Duke star selected first in WNBA draft

Published 6:51 pm Thursday, April 5, 2007

By By JOE MILICIA, Associated Press Writer
CLEVELAND — Lindsey Harding, the Phoenix Mercury’s newest player, was signing autographs when she heard her name called again.
Scratch that. Make it Lindsey Harding of the Minnesota Lynx.
Harding became the first No. 1 overall pick in WNBA draft to be traded when the Mercury sent the former Duke point guard to Minnesota for All-Star forward Tangela Smith.
In an unpredictable draft lacking a clear No. 1 pick and few players projected to make an immediate impact, both Harding and No. 2 pick Jessica Davenport were traded Wednesday.
Harding has been through some highs and lows recently. She missed two free throws with 0.1 seconds remaining that allowed Rutgers to upset top-seeded Duke 53-52 in the NCAA regional semifinals March 24.
Moments after Harding was traded, San Antonio sent Davenport, along with its first round pick in 2008, to New York for All-Star guard Becky Hammon and a second round pick in 2008.
Davenport, a three-time Big Ten player of the year as a center at Ohio State, brings size and scoring to the Liberty, who finished 13th in the league in scoring last season. They missed the playoffs for the third time in the WNBA’s 10-year history and had a losing record 11-23 for just the second time.
Chicago took guard Armintie Price of Mississippi at No. 3; guard Noelle Quinn of UCLA went fourth to Minnesota; and New York selected Texas forward Tiffany Jackson at No. 5.
Harding said she hoped to bring leadership, passion and her tough perimeter defense to the Lynx, who were 10-24 last year.
An ACC player of the year and two-time ACC defensive player of the year, Harding averaged 13.8 points and four rebounds last season for Duke.
She’ll join a backcourt that includes, Seimone Augustus, the No. 1 overall pick last year.
Phoenix was the first team in the 11-year history of the draft to get the top pick with the smallest odds of winning. The Mercury, 18-16 last season, had just 25 chances out of 1,000 to get the No. 1 selection.
They used it to get Smith, the Charlotte Sting’s leading scorer last season at 13.1 points per game. Minnesota acquired Smith in the dispersal draft in January after the Sting folded.
Washington selected forward Bernice Mosby of Baylor sixth; Katie Gearlds of Purdue went to Seattle at No. 7; and Houston took guard Ashley Shields of Southwest Tennessee Community College eighth.
Harding’s teammate, center Alison Bales, went to Indiana with the ninth pick. The Chicago Sky took Vanderbilt forward Carla Thomas with their second pick of the round at No. 10.
North Carolina’s Ivory Latta, whose team was defeated by eventual champion Tennessee in the NCAA tournament semifinals, was selected by Detroit at No. 11.
Connecticut closed out the first round by taking Kamesha Hairston of Temple and center Sandrine Gruda of France.
Maryland guard Shay Doron, who helped lead the Terrapins to their first national championship in 2006, went to the New York Liberty in the second round at No. 16.
Doron, a native of Israel who attended Christ the King High School in New York, was thrilled to return there. She also liked the idea of playing with the 6-foot-5 Davenport and 6-3 Jackson.
For the second season, the league held the draft the day after the women’s NCAA Final Four in the same city as the championship. There were three rounds and 39 picks overall.