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Past articles:
  • 2006 WNBA season wrap-up

  • New Wave of Talent in WNBA

  • The 2006 Young All-America Team

  • 2005-06 College Awards

  • Academic All-America Teams

  • Candace Parker's Comeback

  • 2005 WNBA Season wrap-up

  • 2004-05 College Awards

  • Stanford walk-on Markisha Coleman

  • 2004 WNBA Awards

  • 'BEEF' up your shooting!

  • Gball's Players of the Year

  • UConn's two freshmen

  • Gball's 2003-04 All-Americans

  • Leslie repeats as Player of the Year

  • 2002-03 NCAA Awards

  • Sophia Young

  • WBCA All Stars

  • NWBL Draft

  • The Burge Twins

  • 2002 WNBA Successes

  • Title IX's 35th Anniversary

  • The 2002 High School State Champs

  • The 2002 Gball Awards

  • Being Recruited

  • Protecting Your Knees

  • Candace Parker dunks!

  • Michigan Playoff Results

  • WNBA Teen Advisory Board

  • St. Ann's girls' team

  • Leslie Gball's Player of the Year

  • Hitting the last-second shot

  • Scholarships,
    Part I

  • Scholarships,
    Part II

  • Improving Agility

    By Dave Wohlhueter

    New Phoenix Mercury general manager Ann Meyers Drysdale hit the jackpot in her first WNBA business involvement.

    In last week's WNBA draft lottery, the Mercury won the right to pick first in the April 2007 draft of collegiate players. It marks the first time a team with the longest odds, a 2.5 percent chance, won the lottery. Phoenix, a team that finished the season with seven straight wins (18-16), but just missed the playoffs this past summer, will be followed in next spring's draft by San Antonio and Chicago. The Sky had the best odds of getting the top pick (41 percent) after a 5-29 debut campaign, but dropped to No. 3. Other lottery teams, Minnesota, Charlotte and New York, will round out the first six teams selecting in the 2007 draft.

    Phoenix had the No. 1 pick in 2004, when it chose former UConn guard Diana Taurasi, who led the WNBA in scoring (25.3 ppg.) this past summer. Last spring, the Mercury had the No. 2 pick, and chose guard Cappie Pondexter, who averaged 19.5 ppg. in her rookie season after a stellar career at Rutgers.

    Now it is up to Meyers Drysdale, along with head coach Paul Westhead, to decide what player to choose No. 1. Phoenix also has the option of moving the No. 1 pick to another team for an experienced player.

    What the Mercury needs most is a strong rebounder. The team set a league record for most points per game (87.1 ppg.) in 2006. Even without a "beastly" presence up front, Phoenix set a WNBA record (2,434) for shots in a season, breaking the old mark by 243 shots. The Mercury shot 44.3 percent for a league-record 1,079 field goals made this past summer.

    A big rebounder such as Ohio State 6-6 senior center Jessica Davenport would be a logical choice as the first selection. Davenport is a two-time Big Ten Player of the Year, and led the conference in five statistical categories, including scoring (18.7 ppg.) and rebounding (8.9 rpg.) in 2006.

    Another choice could be Duke 6-7 senior center Allison Bales, who set an NCAA tournament record with 30 blocks last spring. Bales is an excellent defensive player, and certainly would help the Phoenix cause in that category.

    San Antonio, with the second pick in the 2007 draft, needs a mega-scorer or a rangy defensive wizard. If Phoenix didn't opt for Davenport, she would be a great choice. Tiffany Jackson, a 6-3 senior forward at Texas, would add more power up front. Player of the Year Ivory Latta would be available after completing her senior season at North Carolina but doesn't fit the Silver Stars' needs. Latta might be a better choice for No. 3 Chicago, a team that needs the leadership Latta would provide.

    Minnesota picks No. 4, and also needs a scorer to help out 2006 Rookie of the Year Seimone Augustus. The Lynx might go to Augustus' former conference, the SEC, to pick Ole Miss senior guard Armintie Price. The 5-9 All-SEC first-team performer has averaged 16.4 ppg. over three seasons, including a 17.7 mark as a junior. She is also a fine rebounder, with 9.8 rpg. in her Lady Rebel career.

    Any of the above players would help No. 5 Charlotte. The Sting needs rebounding help in addition to a scorer who can put up big numbers. Bales might be the best bet on the boards, and she would be a homegrown talent. Then again, she could be another Janel McCarville, though five inches taller.

    New York, with the No. 6 pick, also needs rebounders. In fact, the Liberty needs much of everything. So, the best talent available will be New York's best bet.

    The rest of the draft first-round pecking order will be: Washington, Seattle, Houston, Indiana, Sacramento, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Connecticut.

    Next April will provide all the answers.

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