Golden Gopher goes first in draft

Updated: April 26, 2005, 10:04 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

SECAUCUS, N.J. -- Janel McCarville has heard all the talk about how this year's incoming rookie class in the WNBA won't be as talented as the last.

Janel McCarville
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty ImagesJanel McCarville is the first player from Minnesota to be selected as the top player in the WNBA draft.

"We've been overshadowed by the players from the past," McCarville said after being selected by Charlotte as the top overall pick in Saturday's league draft. "We definitely have great players. Every year brings something different to the league and adds spice to it."

The 6-foot-4 McCarville averaged 16 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.2 steals last season while leading Minnesota to a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament -- the highest in school history.

McCarville is confident she's ready for the faster play in the WNBA.

"It's a little bit more uptempo," she said. "I'm definitely prepared. I'm strong and agile enough, but I know I have a lot to work on and I'm looking forward to it. I'm the type of player that will do anything my team needs to help it win, whether it's rebound, pass or even score."

McCarville has already received advice from former teammate Lindsay Whalen, who was a first-round pick by the Connecticut Sun last year.

"She's talked to me a little bit about it," McCarville said. "What to expect, how to handle things and approach things. So she's definitely been there for me."

Former WNBA All-Star and ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo thinks McCarville is ready to contribute.

"I think she is already the best passing post player in the WNBA," Lobo said. "Couple in Dawn Staley, perhaps the best passing guard in the WNBA, and Charlotte will be exciting to watch this upcoming season."

McCarville said she is looking forward to playing with new teammate Staley.

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"It's definitely a privilege to play with her," McCarville said. "She's a good passer, hopefully we'll connect on a couple of good ones."

The Indiana Fever selected Tan White from Mississippi State with the second pick, and the Phoenix Mercury followed by taking Texas Christian's Sandora Irvin. The San Antonio Silver Stars picked Kansas State's Kendra Wecker at No. 4, and the University of Houston's Sancho Lyttle went to the Houston Comets with the fifth pick.

White led the nation in scoring with 23.5 points per game, had a Southeastern Conference-record 372 career steals and led Mississippi State to 12 straight wins. The 5-7 guard also won the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award, given to the best women's college basketball player who is 5-8 or shorter.

White believes the physical play in the SEC has prepared her for the WNBA and that her biggest challenge will be settling into the point guard role with the Fever.

"In college, I played whatever the team needed me to," White said. "This time I'm going to have a definite position. It'll be great to play with [Tamika] Catchings, who I played against when she was at Tennessee."

Irvin, a Naismith Trophy finalist and first-team All-American, was the NCAA career leader in blocked shots with 480. The niece of former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin was the Conference USA player of the year, averaging 19.9 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.5 blocks.

Now she'll be teamed up with Diana Taurasi, last year's No. 1 pick and rookie of the year.

"I don't know anyone who wouldn't want to play with Diana Taurasi," Irvin said. "I've never been with someone that good. I am definitely looking forward to her leadership. I think she can definitely help my game."

Wecker, the Big 12 player of the year, averaged 21 points and 10.1 rebounds for Kansas State despite missing three games with a sprained ankle early in the season. She also shot 42 percent on 3-pointers.

Lyttle, an all-Conference USA first-team selection, averaged 18.8 points and 12.1 rebounds for the Cougars last season.

The Washington Mystics, who traded three-time All-Star Chamique Holdsclaw to the Los Angeles Sparks last month, took LSU's Temeka Johnson at No. 6.

Rounding out the first round, it was Georgia's Kara Braxton to the Detroit Shock at No. 7; Katie Feenstra from Liberty to Connecticut with the eighth pick; Michigan State's Kristin Haynie to the Sacramento Monarchs at No. 9; Tennessee's Loree Moore to the New York Liberty next; UC Santa Barbara's Kristen Mann to the Minnesota Lynx with the 11th pick; Penn State's Tanisha Wright to the defending champion Seattle Storm at No. 12; and Oklahoma's Dionnah Jackson to the Shock with the 13th and final pick of the first round.

Mann, a 6-foot-2 forward, averaged 19.5 points and 9.4 rebounds and provides some versatility to the front court. McConnell-Serio said Mann will start the season at power forward for the Lynx, but her shooting range could make her a good fit at small forward off the bench.

"She can extend the defense out to the 3-point line and open things up inside for our post players," McConnell-Serio said.

The Lynx's addition of Notre Dame forward Jacqueline Batteast in the second round "was a steal,'' McConnell-Serio said. "We're very fortunate to get someone with her experience. She brings size and strength and a physical presence." The 6-2 Batteast was an All-American last season after averaging 16.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists a game for the Irish.

Batteast is an excellent defender and shot blocker and her offensive game features both the mid-range jumper and a strong postup game.

"Something we haven't had is a post-up [small forward]," McConnell-Serio said. "She can face up and hit the 3 and take players off the dribble."

McConnell-Serio was at a loss for words when asked how an All-American with the size and skills Batteast possesses slid to the second round, 17th overall.

"She was not at the pre-draft camp in New York, and Notre Dame didn't go far into the tournament so she wasn't in the forefront of a lot of coaches' minds," McConnell-Serio said.

After the draft, the Sun traded the rights to the 6-8 Feenstra to the Silver Stars for 7-2 center Margo Dydek.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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