By Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
CLEVELAND, April 3 -- The WNBA draft is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. Wednesday, but the real action will begin at 10 a.m. That's when the league's teams will know for sure whether Tennessee super sophomore Candace Parker will make the jump to the professional ranks.
Under league rules, the all-American is eligible for the draft because she is on track to graduate during this calendar year. Parker, perhaps the nation's most versatile and talented player, reiterated this week her intent to stay at Tennessee. But until they're sure, the league's general managers plan to wait and see.
"Phoenix [which has the number one pick overall] is not going to make a move until 10 o'clock in the morning," said Doris Burke, a WNBA analyst for ESPN.
Parker's presence would change the dynamic of the entire draft. She would bring some star power to a draft pool that's generally regarded as lacking an immediate impact player. But if Parker doesn't declare, Burke said the news might trigger an unprecedented number of draft-day trades.
The Washington Mystics, who have the No. 6 pick overall, don't have any major needs entering the season. With all-WNBA second-teamer Alana Beard, league assist leader Nikki Teasley and a healthy DeLisha Milton-Jones, the Mystics produced an 18-16 regular season mark, the best in franchise history.
But Washington would like to bolster its post game or address a possible future need at the small forward spot, where Crystal Robinson may be a candidate for retirement.
"We don't have a lot of gaping holes," General Manager Linda Hargrove said. "But we're going to be looking for somebody to give us some depth."
Hargrove didn't rule out the possibility of trading their first-round pick in a deal for a veteran player. The Mystics also have the 19th pick (second round) and 32nd (third round).
"It's not a great, great draft," Hargrove said. "It's an okay draft."
Phoenix won the top pick in the draft lottery, despite finishing with an 18-16 record. San Antonio picks second while Chicago, which finished 5-29 in its expansion season, holds the third pick overall.
Top prospects will attend the draft, including projected first-rounders point guard Lindsey Harding of Duke, guard Armintie Price of Mississippi and Ohio State center Jessica Davenport, one of the draft's top post players.
Former Maryland guard Shay Doron is one of 22 players at the draft. Doron, who also participated in the WNBA's pre-draft camp, is projected to go as early as late in the first round.