Stanford fifth-year forward Mikaela Ruef’s dream 2013-14 season got the Marvel-esque post-credits treatment Monday night when she was selected with the seventh pick of the third round (31st overall) of the WNBA Draft by the Seattle Storm.
Ruef is the 23rd Stanford player to be selected in the WNBA Draft and the second this year, joining Chiney Ogwumike who was taken first overall by the Connecticut Sun. Ruef’s and Ogwumike’s selections give Stanford multiple picks in a single WNBA Draft for the seventh time (1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2007, 2011, 2014), and the first since Kayla Pedersen (seventh, Tulsa Shock) and Jeanette Pohlen (ninth, Indiana Fever) both went in the 2011 first round.
Ruef, from Beavercreek, Ohio, spent five years on The Farm and went to four Final Fours with the Cardinal, most recently last weekend in Nashville as the program made its 12th overall appearance and sixth in seven years at the event.
She enjoyed a career year in 2013-14, being named All-Pac-12 honorable mention while averaging personal bests of 7.1 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.27 assists per game. Her rebounding figure ranked fifth in the Pac-12 while she also finished ninth in assists and sixth with a 1.75 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Ruef’s passing game and figures helped established her as one of the top passing posts in the country, as her assists-per-game figure and assist-to-turnover ratio each were the best among Pac-12 posts.
A two-year captain, Ruef completed a remarkable career arc by helping lead Stanford to a 33-4 record and its 14th consecutive Pac-12 regular-season title on 2013-14. Coming to The Farm in 2009-10, Ruef began her Cardinal career at the end of the bench, seeing just 2.7 minutes a game. As a sophomore, she contributed 2.1 points and 2.9 rebounds a game as a key reserve during Stanford’s run to the Final Four in Indianapolis, but had her momentum stymied the following November when, after playing in three games, she was forced to redshirt the year due to a foot injury.
Showing the determination and resolve which would eventually lead her to All-Pac-12 recognition, Ruef battled back into the Cardinal rotation as the 2012-13 campaign got underway, and was called upon to make her first start on Nov. 16 against No. 1 Baylor in Honolulu. Drawing the assignment of defending national player of the year Brittany Griner, Ruef held her own, limiting Griner to four first-half points and fighting her way to a game-high 12 rebounds in Stanford’s 71-69 upset. Ruef would go on to start 29 of Stanford’s 36 games that year, averaging 4.2 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.17 assists per game.
Returning for a fifth year in 2013-14, Ruef earned the aforementioned All-Pac-12 nod and went on to etch her name in the top-10 lists of a handful of categories in the Stanford record book all while balancing a part-time job as an engineer on campus with Preston Pipelines. Her 345 rebounds came in as Stanford’s ninth-best single-season total, while her haul of 22 rebounds at Washington on Feb. 9 ranked as the third-best single-game mark in Cardinal history, and the best by a Stanford player not named “Ogwumike.”
While she started 36 of the Cardinal’s 37 games this past season, Ruef, who earned her master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering in March, saved some of her best performances for the big stage of the NCAA Tournament. She earned the Most Outstanding Player honor for the Stanford Regional after scoring 14.0 points with 11.0 rebounds and 4.00 assists while shooting 61.1 percent over the Cardinal victories against Penn State and North Carolina. In the regional final against the Tarheels, Ruef posted career highs in points (17) and 3-pointers made (three) while adding nine rebounds and three assists in Stanford’s 74-65 come-from-behind win.Seattle, which also featured former Stanford All-Pac-12 selection Joslyn Tinkle for the final month of the 2013 season, will open its 2014 training camp April 27, with preseason games scheduled over the following two weeks ahead of the WNBA’s Opening Day on May 16.