Charde Houston Proves Value Is Not Defined By Draft Number

Charde Houston was selected by the Minnesota Lynx with the 30th pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft.
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Nobody wants to be the last person in the draft room to have their name called. But it has to happen to someone each year - one prospect invited to the draft will have to sit and hear every other player’s name called before theirs.

In 2008, that player was Charde Houston, who was selected by the Minnesota Lynx in the third round with the 30th overall pick.

“For me, being one of the last to go I felt kind of embarrassed,” she said in a phone interview from France last week. “I felt like I let myself down. I knew in my heart I was a lot better than what a number portrayed me to be. I was just heartbroken. I just wasn’t expecting that.”

Houston had an up and down college career at the University of Connecticut and much had been made of how she drove coach Geno Auriemma crazy by showing flashes of brilliance in the midst of inconsistency.

Despite all of that, by virtue of being invited to the draft she was still projected to go in the first two rounds and no one would have predicted her to be the final player in attendance to walk up to the podium to receive her handshake and jersey.

While she may have been disappointed in her draft position, Houston did not let that ruin the moment when her name was called.

“I was still happy because I was still able to live out my dream and at the same time just to see the look on my mom’s face, and my aunt’s face and everybody that was there to support me, it made me feel a lot better.”

Houston was one of three draftees – along with Candice Wiggins (No. 3 overall) and Nicky Anosike (No 16 overall) - to arrive at Lynx training camp a month later. Houston knew that this was the time to prove her worth.

“When training camp came, it was like, ‘This is my shot; to show them I deserve to be on the team; that I deserve to be here,’” she said. “And with my hard work, every day I just went into each practice and I wanted to prove that they didn’t make a mistake when they drafted me.”

Minnesota definitely made the right decision in selecting Houston, who would go on to have a solid rookie season, averaging 8.8 points and 3.7 rebounds in under 18 minutes per game. In her sophomore season, Houston would increase those numbers to 13.1 points and 5.5 rebounds and was rewarded with her first All-Star selection.

“It’s definitely a great accomplishment,” she said. “I don’t know if there’s another third round draft pick that was able to become an All-Star in just their second year. So, for me, it’s just another success story in knowing that it doesn’t matter where you go, what draft pick you are. It’s just a matter of your drive, the ability that you have and capitalizing off of the opportunity that you’re given.”

Many players that are drafted lower than they believe they should have been often enter their careers with a chip on their shoulder, determined to show every team that passed on them that they made a mistake. Houston did not take that approach.

“It wasn’t so much of me worrying about the other teams passing on me or saying, ‘I’m gonna show you,’” she said. “I just felt like I had to maximize the opportunity I was blessed with and, in turn, I wouldn’t have to say that teams are gonna be upset because they passed on me. I just felt like my hard work, my drive and my determination would speak for itself.

“In this case it wasn’t an issue of me proving it to anybody,” she continued. “It was me wanting to prove to myself that I am capable of doing a lot better than what number 30 says that I am capable of doing. I never doubted my abilities, but it was just a matter of me starting from the bottom and working my way up to the top.”

As the 2010 WNBA Draft approaches, the players selected will face a daunting task to make a team no matter where they are selected. In the years since Houston was drafted, WNBA rosters have been trimmed to 11 players each and this year the league features 12 teams, meaning there are 132 jobs available.

Considering that most teams have an established core, it appears that all rookies, and especially later round picks, will have a difficult task ahead of them to land one of those jobs once training camps open.

For those players, Houston offers the following advice: “I would definitely tell them, 'Don’t ever attach a number to your value.' I mean, a number is just a number. You know, you can even have draft picks that go high and end up not doing, not playing up to that number. So it goes both ways.

“It’s just a matter of, once you are given an opportunity by being drafted at any number, it gives you an opportunity to go to the team and tryout. It doesn’t even necessarily mean that you made the team. You still have to go there, tryout, show what you’re capable of doing and prove that you deserve to be on the team.”