In Monday afternoon’s WNBA Draft, Stanford players Kayla Pedersen and Jeanette Pohlen were both taken among the first 10 selections. The Tulsa Shock took Pedersen with the #7 pick, and the Indiana Fever nabbed Pohlen at #9. It is the first time in school history that two Cardinal players have been chosen in the top 10 in the same year.
Pedersen joins the #2 pick in the draft, center Elizabeth Cambage of Australia, in Oklahoma. But controversy surrounds Cambage perhaps more than any other player selected so high in the draft following her remarks to an Australian newspaper expressing her desire not to play for the Shock.
“I don’t want to play at Tulsa,” she told the Herald Sun. “I’ve made that clear. They want to make me a franchise player, but I’m not going to the WNBA for that. I’m going there to learn and improve my game. But what can you do? My agent will deal with that and I’ll focus on trying not to stress out.”
Cambage has since qualified her remarks and looks to join the team. She and Pedersen will play with the recently unretired Sheryl Swoopes and former Olympic great Marion Jones on the Tulsa roster. The Shock also selected Italee Lucas from North Carolina and Chastity Reed of Arkansas-Little Rock.
If draft-day prognostications mean anything, Pedersen is already ahead with the Tulsa administration. Shock head coach Nolan Richardson called her a “female Larry Bird type player”.
Indiana, on the other hand, wanted to bulk up its backcourt depth chart, which only held 4 guards entering the draft. Pohlen will step into Fever facilities as the tallest pure guard on the roster, with only veteran combo guard-forward Katie Douglas matching Pohlen’s 6′ 0″. Pohlen could have an opportunity to play early and often in her rookie season, given the generally underwhelming performance of the veteran guards in Indiana.
The team begins and ends with multiple All-WNBA selection and graduate of the Tennessee program Tamika Catchings, who is entering her 10th professional season and nearly averaged a double-double last year while leading the team in scoring and rebounding.
The WNBA season begins on June 3, when Minnesota–the new team of UConn’s Maya Moore–travels to Los Angeles to face the Sparks in the opener.