By VIN A. CHERWOO, AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Maya Moore began the month by becoming the third
two-time selection as the Associated Press’ player of the year. On
Monday, the four-time All-American is expected to be selected No. 1
overall by Minnesota in the WNBA draft.
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve wouldn’t officially confirm the UConn
star was going to be the team’s pick. However, she didn’t deny it,
“If I were to confirm that I’d be in big trouble,” she said in
a recent conference call with reporters. “The assumptions that are
being made are not off base, and this franchise is excited about
the prospect of a very talented player out of the University of
Moore averaged 19.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 53
percent shooting from the field over her four years at UConn,
including 22.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists as a senior.
She finished fourth on the NCAA’s career scoring list with 3,036
points, including 36 last Sunday night in UConn’s loss to Notre
Dame in the Final Four.
And Reeve says Moore stands out for more than just her numbers.
“I see a player who is extremely passionate about the game, and
her overall skill level,” Reeve said. “Her ability to shoot the
basketball is what people look at. … She runs and rebounds the
ball well … commits to every part of the game, does a bit of
everything and (is) determined to be the best.
“The aspect that everyone always talks about that translates to
success on our level is Maya’s work ethic. When your best player is
your hardest-working player, great things happen to you.”
The Shock, who finished 6-28 last year in their first season
after moving from Detroit, will pick second and are expected to
select 6-foot-8 Liz Cambage. The 19-year-old has drawn comparisons
to fellow Australian and three-time WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson, who
was the same age when she was selected No. 1 overall by Seattle in
However, Australia’s Herald Sun newspaper recently reported
Cambage didn’t want to play for Tulsa. Shock coach and general
manager Nolan Richardson said he wouldn’t be swayed by those
“If that’s the person we will choose to pick, then that’s the
person we will choose,” Richardson said. “Whether or not she
decides to play, that would still be her option. … We’re still
going to do what we still need to do regardless of what a player
says about where she wants to play.”
That may not be an issue after all, as Cambage denied saying she
didn’t want to play in Tulsa in an interview posted on the league’s
website this week.
“That was taken so out of context it was ridiculous,” Cambage
said. “I was saying I’d love to go No. 1 and it would be nice, but
Maya Moore will probably go No. 1 and I’ll go No. 2.
“I really don’t care where I go. I’m just happy that I’m here
(in the U.S.).”
After Moore and Cambage, the choices aren’t so clear among a
pool deep with frontcourt players, including Texas A&M’s Danielle
Adams, Ohio State’s Jantel Lavender and Xavier’s Amber Harris and
“It seems like there’s a lot of bigs in the game compared to
what I saw last year,” said Richardson, entering his second season
in the WNBA.
Chicago has the third pick, the Lynx will pick again at No. 4,
followed by Chicago, San Antonio, Tulsa again, Atlanta and Indiana.
New York, Washington and defending champion Seattle will close the
For teams looking for guards, Stanford’s Jeanette Pohlen,
Gonzaga’s Courtney Vandersloot, Texas A&M’s Sydney Colson and
Oklahoma’s Danielle Robinson are among the top backcourt players.
“It’s a draft that’s deep, maybe not in terms of franchise
players, but players that will help WNBA teams this year,” Reeve
New York coach and GM John Whisenant, entering his first season
leading a Liberty squad that reached the Eastern Conference
semifinals last year, had a lot of praise for Pohlen (14.5 points,
3.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists as a senior) and Vandersloot (19.8
points, 3.7 rebounds, 10.2 assists).
“Pohlen was the California Player of the Year out of high
school,” he said. “She has continued to improve, shoots the ball
well, big and strong, thinks well. … (Vandersloot) is
tremendously skilled, and might have an adjustment physically in
the WNBA, but she’ll play. I’ll be happy if either one drops to
Lavender and Phillips know they’ll have to adapt to more
physical play in the WNBA than they experienced in college.
“We’ll have to focus in on the fact that these veterans have
been doing this and know the tricks of the trade and how to do
certain things to get rebounds over rookies like us,” said the 6-4
Lavender, who was fifth in the NCAA in scoring at 22.8 points per
game and led the Big Ten in with rebounding at 10.9. “We’ll have
to have a big emphasis on boxing out and really using the
techniques we know to be rebounders in the league.”
Phillips, who averaged 16.1 points and a team-high 12.4 boards,
“There are going to be a lot of taller players in the league
that we didn’t necessarily have to face in college,” the 6-6
Phillips said. “So we’re going to have to use speed and learn the
tricks to give ourselves a little bit of an edge.”
The Lynx also have the first two selections of the second round,
giving them four out of the first 14 picks. Minnesota also won the
No. 1 pick in the lottery for last year’s draft, but traded it
along with Renee Montgomery to Connecticut for former Gophers star
Lindsay Whalen and the No. 2 pick. The Sun then took Moore’s former
UConn teammate Tina Charles, who went on to earn Rookie of the Year
Reeve doesn’t regret making that deal and likes the position the
Lynx are in this year.
“I’m a former point guard and believe that guards win in this
game,” she said. “I’m a big believer of having leadership at that
position. If I had to do it all over again, 100 percent absolutely
I would do it.
“We’re pleased with how things turned out and this coming
season will show us a lot.”
Training camps open on May 15 and the WNBA’s 15th season tips
off June 3.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)