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May. 25, 2010 - Libby Ellis

Naismith in the WNBA

With the WNBA season underway, and Tina Charles already having a rookie of the year type start to the season, we thought it might be fun to examine how the other Naismith Players' of the Year have fared in the WNBA. Since our projected number 1 pick for the 2011 WNBA Mock Draft is Maya Moore, who was the recipient of this National Collegiate Player of the Year award in 2009, we can get a glimpse into what type of player she might become.

Tina Charles
In 3 games she is averaging 16.3 points per game, 9.7 rebounds per game, and 2 blocks per game. Could be the start to a great career...

Maya Moore
To be Continued...

Candace Parker
After winning two NCAA Championships with the Tennessee Lady Vols in 2007 and 2008, Parker was chosen by the Los Angeles Sparks as the first pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft. That season, she became the second WNBA player (first being Lisa Leslie) to ever dunk in a game. Parker was also named league MVP and Rookie of the Year for 2008. She missed the 2009 season after giving birth, but still received 2nd Team All-WNBA honors the next season after missing an additional month.

Lindsey Harding
Lindsey Harding was picked first overall in the 2007 WNBA Draft by the Phoenix Mercury, though she was traded to the Minnesota Lynx later that day. Harding was having a successful rookie season when she sustained a knee injury and was taken out of the lineup. In 2009, Harding was traded to the Mystics where she has continued her success in both scoring and assists (11.9 ppg and 5.4 assists per game).

2006, 2005
Seimone Augustus
Seimone Augustus was drafted first overall by the Minnesota Lynx in 2006. She was named the WNBA Rookie of the Year in 2006. Augustus was part of the WNBA All-Star team in 2006 and 2007. She is also a member of the USA women's basketball team, and helped the team win gold at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.

2004, 2003
Diana Taurasi
Taurasi was picked first overall in the 2004 WNBA Draft by the Phoenix Mercury. That season, she was selected to the Western Conference All-Star Team and won the WNBA Rookie of the Year award. In 2007, Taurasi led her team to the WNBA finals, where the Mercury defeated the Detroit Shock to win the Championship. She was a member of the 2004 and 2008 Olympic teams which both won gold at the Games. In 2009, Taurasi was named WNBA MVP, led her team to another Championship, and was named WNBA Finals MVP.

Sue Bird
Sue Bird was chosen first overall by the Seattle Storm in the 2002 WNBA Draft. That same year, she was chosen to play on the Western Conference All-Star Team, was a runner-up for Rookie of the Year, and was selected to play on the All-WNBA First Team. In 2004, Bird led the Storm to their first WNBA Championship. She was a member of the US Olympic Women's Basketball Team in 2004 and 2008

Ruth Riley
Notre Dame
Ruth Riley was picked fifth overall in the 2001 WNBA Draft by the Miami Sol. After two mediocre seasons, Riley was traded to the Detroit Shock in 2003 during a dispersal draft due to the folding of the Sol. That season, the Shock defeated the Los Angeles Sparks to win the WNBA Championship. In 2005, Riley was selected to the Eastern Conference Team in the WNBA All-Star Game. Riley led her team to another Championship when the Shock defeated the Sacramento Monarchs in 2006. She was selected for the USA Women's Basketball Olympic team in 2004.

Tamika Catchings
Catchings was drafted by the Indiana Fever in 2001, and earned WNBA rookie of the year in her first year on the court. She led the team in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks throughout her career. She was a member of the gold-medal winning USA Women's Basketball Olympic Team.

1999, 1998
Chamique Holdsclaw
Chamique Holdsclaw was selected first in the 1999 WNBA Draft by the Washington Mystics. That season, she was named Rookie of the Year and played in the first ever WNBA All-Star Game. Holdsclaw also played in the Olympic Games the following year, leading the team to gold. After numerous trades and breaks from playing professionally, Holdsclaw transferred to the San Antonio Silver Stars.

Kate Starbird
Kate Starbird was selected 26th overall in the third round of the 1999 WNBA Draft. Starbird was the product of numerous trades until 2003.

Saudia Roundtree
Roundtree never ended up playing in the WNBA

Rebecca Lobo
Rebecca Lobo was drafted to the New York Liberty during the first season in 1997. Lobo was picked to the All WNBA Second Team and WNBA Eastern All-Star team in 1997.She was selected to the 1999 All-Star team but could not play due to a torn ACL.

Lisa Leslie
Leslie was drafted to the Los Angeles Sparks in the 1997 draft. She led the Sparks to the playoffs five times, and finally won a WNBA Championship in 2001. Leslie made history in 2003 as the only woman to ever dunk in a WNBA game. That same year, she was the only player to score over 3,000 career points, then the following season she reached the 4,000-point landmark. Leslie participated in the Olympic games 4 times, leading Team USA to gold each year. She was named to the WNBA all decade team in 2005-2006.

Sheryl Swoopes
Texas Tech
Swoopes was picked up by the Houston Comets in the inaugural 1997 WNBA draft. She was the first player to be named WNBA MVP on three occasions (2000,2002, and 2005) and Defensive Player of the Year three times (2000, 2002, and 2003). She was also named to the All-WNBA First Team five times (1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2005). Swoopes was voted the WNBA All-Star Game MVP in 2005. She was also named to the WNBA all decade team in 2005-2006.

1992, 1991
Dawn Staley
After a short period playing overseas, Staley continued her career with the Charlotte Sting after being picked ninth overall in the 1999 WNBA Draft. She led the Sting to the WNBA Championship game in 2001, though they were defeated by the Los Angeles Sparks. In 1994, Staley competed in the World Championships and was named USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year. She continued her success with Team USA in the 1996, 2000, and 2004 Olympic Games, leading her team to gold all three years. Staley was traded to the Houston Comets in 2005, and ended her professional career at the end of that season. Staley was named to the WNBA’s all decade team in 2005-2006.

Jennifer Azzi
After her collegiate career at Stanford, Azzi helped the U.S. win Azzi was picked fifth overall by the Detroit Shock in the 1999 WNBA Draft.

Clarissa Davis
Clarissa Davis was selected 22nd overall in the 2nd round of the 1999 WNBA Draft. Davis played on the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team that earned the bronze medal.

Sue Wicks
Sue Wicks signed with the New York Liberty in the WNBA's inaugural season in 1997. Wicks played in every All-Star game until her retirement in 2002. In 1999 and 2000, Wicks led the Liberty to the WNBA Finals, where they were defeated by Houston both years. Wicks finished her WNBA career 8th in total blocked shots.

1986, 1985, 1984
Cheryl Miller
Cheryl Miller was not able to play while the WNBA was created, but she was able to coach, and she coached the Phoenix Mercury to some very successful playoff seasons.

Anne Donovan
Old Dominion
Donovan was one of the more successful coach's in women's basketball, becoming the only women's head coach to lead a WNBA team to the championship with the Seattle Storm.