Getting to Know Your New WNBA

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After a weekend of festivities, media training and photo ops, the WNBA draft was held Monday at the ESPN headquarters in Connecticut. Athletes who have been dreaming of this day since they were young girls dribbling a basketball in the driveway or the school gym were a bundle of nerves waiting for the names to be called. With 12 teams, 11 roster spots and plenty of players returning for the WNBA's 15th season, this year’s rookie class has a lot to prove. So who was selected and where will they play? Without further ado, meet the newest class of professional ballers.

1) As expected, UConn’s Maya Moore, the No. 1 overall pick, will be heading to Minnesota to play for the Lynx. Hopefully, the three-time winner of the Wade Trophy and four-time All-American, can help turn the tide for the Lynx who went 13-21 last season. Moore finished her college career with 3,036 points, helping Connecticut win a record 90 straight games over the past two seasons and two national titles.

2) Aussie phenom Elizabeth Cambage was selected No. 2 by the Tulsa Shock. At 19 years old, the stylish 6-foot-8 Cambage is one of the youngest players ever selected to play in the WNBA. Cambage has played professionally since the age of 17 and was chosen 2011 WNBL MVP after leading the league in scoring, shot-blocking and field-goal percentage.

3) Gonzaga, who made a Cinderella run during the recent NCAA tournament, was rooting for 5-foot-8 Courtney Vandersloot as she was drafted third overall by the Chicago Sky. Vandersloot, largely regarded as the best point guard out of college, led the Zags to their first Elite Eight appearance in March, and became the first Division I player — male or female — to amass career totals of 2,000 points and 1,000 assists.

4) Amber Harris, the 6-foot-5 star forward out of Xavier, was chosen fourth by Minnesota. A post player with dribbling skills, she will join Maya Moore in an attempt to move the Lynx into the playoffs.

5) The fifth overall pick, Ohio State center Jantel Lavender, is heading to Los Angeles Sparks to play alongside returning player Candace Parker. The 6-foot-4 Lavender, Big Ten's only four-time Player of the Year, had a strong senior year, averaging 22.7 points, 10.9 rebounds and 1.78 blocks.

Other Notables:

Stanford seniors Kayla Pedersen and Jeanette Pohlen were also among the top players chosen in Monday's draft. Pedersen went to the Tulsa Shock with the seventh pick and Pohlen, a guard, is heading back to Indianapolis where the Cardinal lost to TAMU last week in the semi-final of the NCAA championship. The Atlanta Dream, with the No. 8 pick, selected Xavier forward Ta'Shia Philips.

In a surprise move, the New York Liberty scooped up Georgia Tech star Alex Montgomery at No. 10, stunning the entire studio and sending her into tears. The Tacoma native will play for first-year Liberty coach John Whisenant, who won the 2005 WNBA championship with the now defunct Sacramento Monarchs.

Aggie star Sydney Colson was taken No. 16 by the Connecticut Sun before she was traded to the New York Liberty about an hour after the draft ended. Teammate Danielle Adams, the Most Outstanding Player in the women's Final Four in Indianapolis a week ago, was the last of 15 players invited to the ESPN studio to be drafted. Adams who can knock down the three-pointer and was instrumental in TAMU winning the NCAA championship, wasn’t scooped up until the 20th overall pick. She will stay in Texas and play for the San Antonio Silver Stars – a short trip from her digs ,in College Station.

In other news, Brittany Spears (no, not the pop star) was selected #19 by the Phoenix Mercury. The University of Colorado guard became a trending topic on Twitter though that may have been the result of fans of the singer who don’t know how to correctly spell her name.

All the players were coached on what to wear and they went through hair and make-up at the studio but Maya Moore and Sydney Colson stood out in their metallic and animal prints. Cambage, who is studying fashion, was the showstopper with her asymmetrical hairstyle and black, ostrich-shrug.

Most of the draftees will trade their uniforms in for caps and gowns to receive their college diplomas next month before reporting to training camp. Prior to the opening of camp, Moore, the only college player on the 2010 World Championship team, will travel to Las Vegas to train with her USA Basketball teammates preparing for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Will we see any of the new players on the floor when the WNBA tips off its 15th regular season? Be sure to tune in to see if Moore, Harris or Lavendar get any playing time when the Lynx visit the Sparks in their opener on June 3rd.

crossposted on Pretty Tough

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