Monday, April 11, 2011

Stanford Goes Seven and Nine in the WNBA Draft

Stanford Women’s Basketball player Kayla Pedersen was selected seventh by the Tulsa Shock in the 2011 WNBA draft. Another Stanford star, guard Jeanette Pohlen was selected ninth by the Indiana Fever. Top Ten for each, baby! Wow, congratulations to the women for all their hard work and for Stanford and Tara VanDerveer’s program to get them “pro” ready. Now they just have to make the team, although top ten picks are expected to. (C had a little bet with R about where Jeanette Pohlen would be drafted, and, well, let’s just say, C failed miserably and R had every faith in Jeanette).

And it was great when Kayla’s name was announced, after hugging her parents, she got a big hug from Jeanette at the next table. We are sure Kayla would have returned the favor when JP was drafted two spots behind her, but she was probably busy doing interviews and posing for pix and stuff.

A huge surprise for C and R was Gonzaga’s Courtney Vandersloot getting picked third and going to Chicago. Congratulations to her, we look forward to following her WNBA career. She looked incredible in her highlight reel.

First pick, of course, was Maya Moore, who was selected by Minnesota. Minnesota also got the fourth pick and selected Xavier’s Amber Harris, a big post player who can dribble, much like Kayla. We are excited for former Stanford player and current Minnesota player Candice Wiggins, whose team went from cellar-dweller to play off team with just those two picks.

And now C and R can officially say we LOVE Maya Moore. They were showing her highlights again and she is just amazing. Such a pure jump shot. And they showed her playing on the USA National Team, and said how she held her own on what is essentially a WNBA all-star team and against other country’s veterans. We are looking forward to her long and illustrious pro career.

So the second pick selected by Tulsa, was an Australian National Team player, Elizabeth Cambage, who did not come to the US to play college. We have been hearing about her the last few days as draft day counted down, especially since she is 6’8. We figured she must be a seasoned veteran in her 20’s. Turns out she is 19.

Now, the WNBA has this really great rule saying that a player cannot be drafted until their graduating class has made it through four years of college. This is to prevent players from jumping early to the pros, like in the men’s NBA. Essentially, colleges with men’s teams are “renting” male players for a year or two until they turn pro, or else they skip college altogether, (Kobe, LeBron). It is rare to see a college senior on a men’s team, and it also decreases the graduation rate (Maryland’s Men’s Basketball team only graduated 8% of its players this year).

Not so in the women’s game, which has a far higher graduation rate, probably because of the WNBA rule. One notable exception is Epiphanny Prince who left college a year early to play in Europe and get a paycheck for her family. She came back to the WNBA the following year when the rules said she could.
Actually, this is a more complete explanation of the WNBA’s eligibility: you must have turned 22 years old, graduated from college, completed your eligibility to play or played at least two seasons for another professional league. So Lizzie played for 2 years in an Australian professional league, starting when she was 17. So she gets to come to the WNBA when she is 19? But other 19 year olds can’t be drafted? Seems like they should stick to the 22-year-old rule for everybody.

Well, Lizzie can always room with Kayla Pedersen in OK. And now Kayla can say she’s not the tallest player on her team.

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