WNBA All-Decade Nominee Bios
HOUSTON COMETS (1997-Current)
Arcain is one of a handful of veterans who have been with the WNBA since the league's inception. Selected by the Houston Comets in the second round (13th overall) of the WNBA Elite Draft in 1997 Stinson enters the 2006 season ranked eighth 8 in steals (347), 19th in field goals made (997) and 20th in points (2,652) in league history.
Arcain was an instrumental part of the Comets' championship run as she helped Houston win the league title in each of the WNBA's first four seasons. In 2001, she had a breakout year, ranking fourth in the league in scoring (18.5) while averaging 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists. She was rewarded by being voted onto the All-WNBA First Team and to the WNBA All-Star Game.
A Brazilian, Arcain has been a fixture in international competition, helping the Brazilian national team capture silver in the 1996 Olympics and Bronze in the 2000 Games.
SUE BIRD, GUARD
SEATTLE STORM (2002-Current)
With a WNBA championship and an Olympic gold medal on her resume, Bird is quickly establishing her place among the top players in the world. Last season Bird was voted to her third WNBA All-Star Game and earned All-WNBA First Team honors for the fourth consecutive year, joining Cynthia Cooper as the only players in WNBA history to receive that honor in each of their first four seasons. Having ranked either first or second in the league in assists in each of her four campaigns, Bird also captured the 2005 WNBA Cascade Dish and Assist Award after leading the league in assists.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 Draft and the first-ever guard selected as the league's top pick, Bird's impact was immediate as she helped the Storm to their first-ever post-season appearance in her rookie season. Bird capped her rookie year by being named the Women's Sports Foundation's Team Sportswoman of the Year in recognition of her accomplishments at the University of Connecticut and in the WNBA.
In 2003, Bird racked up a WNBA-record seven point/assist double-doubles. The following year, she led the Storm to their first WNBA Championship after ranking second in the league in assists and fourth in three-point field goal percentage. She also helped the U.S. earn Olympic gold at Athens in 2004.
As a collegiate senior and one of the nation's elite point guards, Bird led UConn to a perfect 39-0 record and another national championship, earning national Player of the Year honors in the process.
SACRAMENTO MONARCHS (1997-2004)
Bolton was one of 16 elite players who formed the foundation of the eight-team WNBA in its inaugural season of 1997. As a guard for the Sacramento Monarchs, Bolton exploded on the WNBA scene, compiling enormous numbers in the first year, averaging 19.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.35 steals per contest, good enough for a spot on the All-WNBA First Team.
Bolton went on to have eight stellar seasons with the Monarchs and enters 2006 ranked 24th in league history in steals (254) and 30th in points (2,183). A two-time WNBA All-Star, she also earned two gold medals with the US Olympic team in 1996 and 2000.
During her college career at Auburn, Bolton made four NCAA tournament appearances, advancing to the NCAA championship game in 1989 and 1990. She won three SEC titles and was named to the 1998 NCAA Final Four All-Tournament team.
SWIN CASH, FORWARD
DETROIT SHOCK (2002-Current)
Cash joins Sue Bird, Ruth Riley and Sheryl Swoopes as the only current WNBA players to have won an Olympic gold medal, NCAA championship and WNBA title.
The second overall draft pick in 2002, Cash quickly forged a reputation as a tenacious all-around player, leading the Shock in points and rebounds per game that season, while also leading the league in free throws made. One year later, she led the Shock to its first WNBA title and was named to the WNBA All-Star Team and All-WNBA Second Team.
In 2004 Cash led Detroit to another playoff berth after ranking first in the league in free throws made (158) and fifth in points (526). She also earned All-WNBA Second Team honors and helped the U.S. bring home an Olympic gold medal from Athens. Despite missing the first 12 games of 2005 due to injury, Cash was still voted to the WNBA All-Star game and helped lead Detroit to its third straight postseason berth.
At UConn, Cash capped a stellar career by teaming with Sue Bird to lead the Huskies to an undefeated 39-0 season and the 2002 national title.
Off the court, Cash launched Cash for Kids, in 2005 to assist youth agencies and schools in Detroit, MI and her hometown of Mckeesport, PA.
TAMIKA CATCHINGS, FORWARD
INDIANA FEVER (2001-Current)
A First Team All-WNBA choice in her first two campaigns, a Second Team selection the next two years and a perennial All-Star, Catchings enters 2006 ranked among the league's all-time leaders in steals (2nd), scoring (4th) and rebounding (6th) per game.
In 2005, Catchings was named the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year and played in her third All-Star game after receiving the most votes among Eastern Conference players for the second time. She also led the league in steals, ranked third in defensive rebounds and eighth in scoring and for the third time in four seasons, she finished among the top three vote-getters for the league's MVP award.
The third pick in the 2001 draft, Catchings sat out that season with a knee injury but came back to be the 2002 Rookie of the Year after ranking second in the league in scoring and leading the Fever to its first playoff berth.
Catchings, the daughter of former NBA player Harvey Catchings, was a member of an NCAA championship team and a national collegiate Player of the Year at Tennessee and helped the 2004 U.S. team win Olympic gold.
Born with a hearing impairment, Catchings received the Reynolds Society Achievement Award in 2000, an honor presented annually to an individual who has overcome hearing, vision or speech loss and inspired others. A true role model, she is active with the WNBA "Read to Achieve" campaign, conducts numerous basketball clinics and has formed the "Catch the Stars Foundation, Inc." to provide academic and sports-related programs for at-risk youth. In January 2006, she was a finalist for the Wooden Citizenship Cup, a national award presented to the top college and professional athlete who exhibits outstanding community service.
HOUSTON COMETS (1997-2000, 2003)
Cooper was one of 16 elite players who formed the core of the then eight-team WNBA in its inaugural season of 1997. As a guard for the Comets, Cooper quickly distinguished herself as a star by becoming the first player to reach the 1000 and 2500-point plateaus. In fact, Cooper led the WNBA in scoring during each of the league's first three years averaging no less than 22 points per game each season. Behind this outstanding play, the Comets went on to capture the league's first four championships with Cooper being named Finals MVP all four times.
Cooper's first four years in the WNBA were littered with accolades as she earned All-WNBA First Team honors each year, was selected to the WNBA All-Star Team three times and was named league MVP twice. Cooper started every game she played and missed only two games in her WNBA career.
Cooper retired following the 2000 season and was shortly thereafter named the head coach of the Phoenix Mercury. She stayed with the Mercury for two seasons before returning as a player with Houston in 2003, only to suffer a torn rotator cuff after only four games, retired permanently.
Cooper led the USC Trojans to three Final Four appearances in four years and to NCAA titles in 1983 and 1984.
TAMECKA DIXON, GUARD
HOUSTON COMETS (Current) AND LOS ANGELES (1997-2005)
A three-time All-Star in her nine seasons with the Los Angeles Sparks, Dixon is one of only a handful of players to be with the WNBA since its inception. She now embarks on a new phase of her career after signing with Houston this off-season. Selected by L.A. in the second round (14th overall) of the inaugural WNBA Draft, Dixon has been putting up solid numbers ever since, with one of her biggest efforts coming in 1998 when she averaged 16.2 points and 2.5 assists per game.
In 2001, Dixon was named to the All-WNBA Second Team as she helped lead L.A. to its first ever WNBA championship. She put together solid numbers the next season, logging 13.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, and was a key factor in the Sparks' second consecutive league championship.
At Kansas in 1997, Dixon averaged 14.2 points per outing while shooting .457 from the field. She was the Big 12 Player of the Year as a senior and was named to the Kodak All-America Team and the AP All-America Second Team.
JENNIFER GILLOM, FORWARD
LOS ANGELES SPARKS (2005) AND PHOENIX MERCURY (1997-2002)
One of the original 16 elite players assigned to the league's first eight teams, Gillom burst onto the WNBA scene with big numbers. In each of her first three seasons she averaged more than 15 points per game and finished the 1998 season ranked second in the league in scoring (20.8 ppg). An All-WNBA Second Team pick in 1997 and a First Team choice in 1998, she played in the inaugural All-Star Game in 1999.
Entering 2006, Gillom ranks 13th in league history in career points (2,896), 26th in rebounding (968) and 31st in steals (221).
At the University of Mississippi she complied 2,186 points, second best on the school's all-time list. In her senior year she led the SEC in scoring (23.2), was named to the Kodak All-America team, and also earned SEC Female Athlete of the Year and Mississippi Sportswoman of the Year honors.
YOLANDA GRIFFITH, CENTER
SACRAMENTO MONARCHS (1999-Current)
A key fixture in the Sacramento Monarchs lineup since being selected number two overall in the 1999 WNBA draft, Griffith has been dominating the paint year after year. Griffith exploded on the scene by averaging a double-double in her rookie season, putting up 18.8 points and a league best 11.3 rebounds per game. She took home league MVP honors and All-WNBA First Team accolades that year and was selected to the inaugural All-Star game. Since then she has participated in four more All-Star games and has been named All-WNBA First Team once and Second Team three times.
Griffith's biggest feat came last season when she led Sacramento to its first WNBA title, earning Finals MVP acclaim after averaging 18.5 points and 9.8 rebounds in the series.
Entering 2006, she ranks in the top 10 in league history in nine career categories, including second in rebounds (1,882), fifth in steals (409), sixth in field goal percentage (.515), seventh in blocks (276) and eighth in points (3,306).
Griffith earned Division II All-America honors at Florida Atlantic, where she dominated play and ranked among the nation's leaders in every major statistical category.
BECKY HAMMON, GUARD
NEW YORK LIBERTY (1999-Current)
A point guard whose game includes plenty of flash and even more substance, Hammon has been a fan-favorite in New York since being signed by the Liberty as a free agent out of Colorado State in 1999. She finished the 2005 season ranked No. 1 league-wide in free-throw percentage (.901) and No. 2 in both three-point field goals made and attempted (65-178). She was also voted to compete in the 2005 WNBA All-Star Game.
In 2004, Hammon led her team to the WNBA Eastern Conference Finals and ranked fifth in the league in assists (150). She was also voted to a team of WNBA All-Stars that competed against the 2004 USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team in a special exhibition game at Radio City Music Hall before the U.S. team went on to compete in the Olympics.
Prior to joining the WNBA, Hammon led Colorado State University to a 33-3 record in 1999 and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. She was named Colorado Sportswoman of the Year and a First Team All-America by Kodak, the Associated Press and Sports Illustrated.
CHAMIQUE HOLDSCLAW, FORWARD
LOS ANGELES SPARKS (2005-Current) AND WASHINGTON MYSTICS (1999-2004)
The league's number one pick overall when selected by the Mystics in 1999, Holdsclaw entered the WNBA after authoring one of the best collegiate careers in history and immediately earned Rookie of the Year honors.
One of only three players selected to every WNBA All-Star Game, Holdsclaw has twice been the league's leading vote-getter at All-Star time. Holdsclaw is a three-time All-WNBA Second Team member and going into the 2006 season she ranks among the WNBA's top 10 in three categories, third in points per game (18.1) and in field goals made (1,352) and fourth in rebounds per game (8.6).
Holdsclaw put together six outstanding seasons in Washington before being dealt to the L.A. Sparks in 2005 in one of the biggest trades in WNBA history. She went on to finish that season ranked third in the league in scoring (17.0 ppg), sixth in double-doubles (7) and eighth in rebounding (6.8).
At the University of Tennessee, Holdsclaw won both the Naismith and Sullivan awards as the national player of the year, led the Lady Volunteers to three NCAA titles and earned Most Outstanding Player honors in the 1997 and 1998 Final Four. At the time of her graduation, Holdsclaw was Tennessee's all-time leading scorer and rebounder with 3,025 points and 1,295 rebounds and was only the fifth woman in NCAA history to reach 3,000 points.
Holdsclaw is one of only a very few women to have a Nike shoe, the "BBMiqueShox," named after her.
SEATTLE STORM (2001-Current)
One of the WNBA's most successful international players, the native Australian enters 2006 ranked second in league history in scoring average (18.4 ppg), third in blocked shots (2.18 pg) and No. 7 in rebounding (7.8 pg).
A four-time All-Star, Jackson has also been named to the All-WNBA First Team in each of the last three seasons. She received ESPY Awards for "Best WNBA Player" following both the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Jackson led the Storm to the WNBA crown in 2004, bringing Seattle its first major professional sports title in 25 years.
Just two seasons after being selected first overall by Seattle in the 2001 Draft, Jackson became the first international player to be named league MVP and the youngest ever to garner the WNBA's highest honor. During that season, Jackson set a WNBA record by hitting 17 field goals in a game against Los Angeles. On Aug. 20, 2005, she hit her 1,000th career field goal, becoming the youngest player in WNBA history to reach the milestone.
Excelling at an early age, however, is nothing new to Jackson who, at age 16, became the youngest player ever selected to the Australian National Team. Since then, she's led the Opals to a gold medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and silver medals at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, the 2002 FIBA World Championships in China and the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
SHANNON JOHNSON, GUARD
SAN ANTONIO SILVER STARS (2004-Current), CONNECTICUT SUN (2003)
AND ORLANDO MIRACLE (1999-2002)
Johnson has been one of the premiere guards in the WNBA since debuting with the Orlando Miracle (now the Connecticut Sun) in 1999. A three-time selection to the All-WNBA Second Team, Johnson was particularly solid in 2002 when she averaged 16.1 points, 5.3 assists and 4.2 rebounds per contest.
With four trips to the All-Star Game on her resume entering the 2006 campaign, Johnson ranks among the top 25 in league history in seven different categories, including fourth in assists (1,031), 10th in steals (335), and 19th in scoring (2,653).
At the University of South Carolina, Johnson finished her career ranked second in school history in scoring (2,230) and three-point field goal percentage (.382) and set the record for most points in a single game with 50. A three-time All-SEC pick, Johnson ranked second among NCAA Division I scorers in 1996 (24.7 ppg).
VICKIE JOHNSON, GUARD/FORWARD
SAN ANTONIO SILVER STARS (Current) AND NEW YORK LIBERTY (1997-2005)
Johnson is one of a handful of veterans who have been with the WNBA since the league's inception. Selected by the Liberty in the second round (12th overall) of the WNBA Elite Draft in 1997, Johnson spent nine seasons with New York before joining San Antonio. The leader in nearly every major statistical category in Liberty history, Johnson is one of only seven WNBA players to amass 3,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. She enters 2006 ranked among the WNBA's top 10 in three career categories: first in minutes (8,950), sixth in assists (787) and eighth in field goals made (1,244).
In 2004, Johnson finished the season ranked second in the league in free-throw percentage (.886) and eighth in assists per turnover (1.75) while helping lead the Liberty to their sixth playoff appearance in eight years.
In 2002 she became the first Liberty player and 11th WNBA player ever to record 2,000 career points. Johnson then had a big year in 2003 when she registered her 2,500th career point and her 500th career assist.
As a collegian, Johnson scored 1,891 career points and grabbed 831 rebounds at Louisiana Tech. She was the Sun Belt Conference MVP and a Kodak and Street & Smith All-American selection in both 1995 and 1996.
LOS ANGELES SPARKS (1997-Current)
Leslie enters 2006 as the league's all-time leader in scoring (4,732) and rebounding (2,540). A two-time league MVP (2001, 2004), she joins Chamique Holdsclaw and Nykesha Sales as the only players selected to every WNBA All-Star Game.
Leslie made history in the 2002 All-Star Game when she became the first to dunk in a women's pro game. That same year she led L.A. to a second straight title and was MVP of both the Finals and the All-Star Game. Just one year earlier, Leslie became the first female and the fourth pro basketball player ever to win a league's All-Star Game, League and League Finals MVP honors in a single season. In so doing, she etched her name in the record books alongside NBA greats Shaquille O'Neal, Michael Jordan and Willis Reed.
A six-time All-WNBA First Team pick, Leslie also owns three Olympic gold medals and was twice honored as USA Basketball's Female Athlete of the Year.
Off the court, she has served as a national spokesperson for the WNBA Breast Health Awareness program, Big Brothers & Big Sisters of America and more. She also opened the "Lisa Leslie Sports Complex" at her high school and has partnered with NIKE on the "Takin' It Inside" program which benefits under-served girls in Southern California.
During the off-season, she has worked as a basketball commentator on television and also found time to be a fashion model with layouts in Vogue and Women's Wear Daily.
CONNECTICUT SUN (2003), HOUSTON COMETS (2002), NEW YORK LIBERTY (1997-2001)
One of the WNBA's original players, Lobo helped put the league on the map. After joining Sheryl Swoopes as one of the first two players to sign a WNBA contract, Lobo was assigned to the New York Liberty in the league's first player allocations in 1997. She spent the first five years of her career with New York until being traded to Houston in 2002 and ultimately finishing her career with Connecticut in 2003.
In the WNBA, Lobo picked up where she left off in college, averaging 12.4 and 11.7 points per game in 1997 and 1998, respectively, and earned All-WNBA second team honors that first season. Lobo also keyed one of the most remarkable streaks in sports history, winning 102 games in a row, including a 35-0 mark and at University of Connecticut in her senior season and the final two games in her Junior year, a 60-0 streak with the US Senior Women's National Team and a 5-0 start in her career with the Liberty.
As a member of UConn's 1995 NCAA championship team, Lobo racked up a slew of awards. She was the Wade Trophy winner, National Player of the Year and a member of the Kodak All-America first team two years in a row. She averaged a double-double for her career before becoming a member of the 1996 gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic team.
Away from basketball, Lobo remains active in numerous organizations that support breast cancer research and awareness as well as the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, the Children's Miracle Network and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund. She also launched the Ruth Ann and Rebecca Lobo Scholarship in Allied Health which encourages more diversity in the health care profession. Today, she continues to contribute to the game as a TV analyst for WNBA games.
MWADI MABIKA, FORWARD
LOS ANGELES SPARKS (1997-Current)
Mwadi Mabika is one of only a handful of veterans who have been with the WNBA since the league's inception. Although not selected during the inaugural WNBA draft, Mabika was allocated to the Sparks prior to the start of the first season and has gone on to enjoy significant success, particularly in 2001 and 2002 when she helped Los Angeles capture back-to-back WNBA titles. A two-time WNBA All-Star, perhaps her biggest season came in 2002 when she earned All-WNBA First Team honors after ranking sixth in the league in scoring (16.8) and adding 5.2 rebounds per game.
Going into the 2006 WNBA season, Mabika ranks among the WNBA's top 25 all-time in seven different categories, including fifth in three-point field goals made (330), ninth in assists (641), 11th in points (2,941), 16th in steals (313) and 20th in rebounds (1,100).
Born and raised in Kinshasa, Congo, Mabika was a member of the Zaire National Team at the age of 14 and was on the Zaire Olympic team that competed in Atlanta in 1996.
TAJ McWILLIAMS-FRANKLIN, FORWARD
CONNECTICUT SUN (2003-Current) AND ORLANDO MIRACLE (1999-2002)
One of the leaders on the Sun roster, McWilliams-Franklin helped guide Connecticut to its second WNBA Eastern Conference Championship in 2005. She was named to the All-WNBA Second Team, competed in her fifth WNBA All-Star Game, and received the 2005 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award for her commitment to the community.
In 2004, McWilliams-Franklin helped her team grab the WNBA Eastern Conference Championship by averaging 12.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. She finished the season as the Sun's leading rebounder and ranked No. 5 in the league in offensive rebounds (83).
At St. Edward's University, McWilliams was named NAIA National Player of the Year in 1993 and was also selected to the Kodak NAIA All-America team in the same year. She also was a member of the 1992 All-America second team and a two-time NAIA All-Tournament Team member (1992 and 1993). At the time of her graduation, McWilliams held the school's records for career scoring (1,837), points in a single season (760) and field goal percentage (.640).
DELISHA MILTON-JONES, FORWARD
WASHINGTON MYSTICS (2005-Current) AND LOS ANGELES SPARKS (1999-2002)
After six seasons with the Sparks during which time she averaged 11.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, Milton-Jones was acquired by the Mystics in March 2005 as part of one of the biggest trades in WNBA history.
Originally selected by Los Angeles in the first round (fourth overall) of the 1999 WNBA draft, Milton-Jones immediately became a key offensive and defensive force throughout the league. In her first season, she helped lead her team to the franchise's first-ever playoff berth and a spot in the Western Conference Finals. Shortly thereafter, Milton-Jones would help lead the Sparks to consecutive WNBA championships in 2001 and 2002.
While at the University of Florida, Milton-Jones participated in four NCAA tournaments. In 1997, she was named to the Associated Press and Kodak All-America Teams while also being selected as the Southeastern Conference Player or the Year and the recipient of the Wade Trophy, presented by the WBCA to the nation's top female basketball player.
DEANNA NOLAN, GUARD
DETROIT SHOCK (2001-Current)
Nolan has emerged as one of the most valuable assets on the Shock roster. In the 2005 season, she averaged a team-best 15.9 points and 3.7 assists per game and competed in her second WNBA All-Star game. Nolan also etched her name into the record books by posting the fourth triple double in WNBA history with 11 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds against Connecticut on May 21, 2005.
In 2003, Nolan helped the Shock to its first WNBA championship by averaging 15.5 points, 3.6 rebounds amd 2.6 assists during Detroit's eight playoff games.
Nolan was originally selected by Detroit in the first round (sixth overall) of the 2001 WNBA Draft and went on to finish her rookie season ranked third on the team in three-point field goals (21).
At the University of Georgia, she was named to the All-SEC Second Team and to the Conference's All-Tournament team in 2001. In 2000, Nolan was named First Team All-SEC, one year after taking the "Lady Bulldogs" to the Final Four.
TICHA PENICHEIRO, GUARD
SACRAMENTO MONARCHS (1998-Current)
A native of Portugal, Penicheiro first made her mark in the U.S. as a flashy point guard for Old Dominion University (ODU). And since being chosen by the Sacramento Monarchs as the second overall pick in the 1998 WNBA Draft, she has gone on to lead the league in assists in six different seasons and enters 2006 as the all-time WNBA career assist leader.
In 2004, Penicheiro helped lead the Monarchs to the Western Conference Finals and finished the season ranked second in the league in assists per turnover (2.26). Just one year later, she led the Monarchs to their first ever WNBA championship.
A four-time WNBA All-Star, Penicheiro was awarded the prestigious WNBA Cascade Dish & Assist Award in 2003. She was also named to the All-WNBA First Team in 1999 and 2000 and earned Second Team honors in 2001.
While at ODU, Penicheiro was a two-time First-Team All-America and four-time First-Team All-Colonial Athletic Association selection. During her tenure there, ODU posted a record of 119-14, won four conference titles and made four postseason tournament appearances.
NYKESHA SALES, FORWARD
CONNECTICUT SUN (2003-Current) AND ORLANDO MIRACLE (1999-2002)
A passionate and dedicated leader on the court, Sales is a fan-favorite in Connecticut. The Sun's all-time leading scorer, Sales has never missed a game since joining the WNBA in 1998. A perennial All-Star, Sales is one of only three players to have competed in all seven WNBA All-Star games.
In 2005, she ranked fifth in league in steals (1.79), sixth in scoring (15.6) and three-point field goal percentage (.422) and became the ninth player in WNBA history to reach the 3,000 career point milestone.
In 2004, Sales led the Sun to their first Eastern Conference Championship and went on to set the record for most points in a WNBA Finals game with 32 in game 2 against the Seattle Storm. She capped the season by being named to the 2004 All-WNBA Second Team.
A native of Connecticut, Sales played at Bloomfield High before starring at UConn. After helping the Lady Huskies win the NCAA Division I national championship in her freshman campaign, Sales earned Kodak All-American First Team honors in 1997 and 1998. She averaged 15.9 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game over her four-year college career.
KATIE SMITH, GUARD
DETROIT SHOCK (2005-Current) AND MINNESOTA LYNX (1999-2005)
One of the game's most prolific scorers became the first woman in professional U.S. basketball history to score 5,000 points (combined WNBA and ABL) on July 13, 2005. At the end of that season, she ranked third among the WNBA's all-time leading scorers with 3,729 points.
Smith was named to the All-WNBA First Team in 2001 and 2003 and to the Second Team in 2000 and 2002. Shortly after representing the Lynx in the 2005 All-Star Game - her fifth appearance in the mid-season classic - she was traded to the Detroit Shock in one of the biggest transactions in WNBA history and immediately helped the Shock clinch a playoff berth.
A star in international play as well, Smith was a key member of the 2004 USA Women's Senior National Team that brought home an Olympic gold medal and the 2002 U.S. team that also won a world championship.
At Ohio State, Smith became the all-time leading scorer in Big Ten women's history, finishing with 2,437 points. In her senior season, she was named the 1996 Big Ten Player of the Year, the GTE co-Academic All-American of the Year, and earned a spot on the AP All-America Second Team.
DAWN STALEY, GUARD
HOUSTON COMETS (2005-Current) AND CHARLOTTE STING (1999-2005)
A three-time Olympian who has helped the U.S. win three gold medals, Staley was selected by the Charlotte Sting as the ninth pick in the 1999 WNBA Draft. Her impact was immediate both on and off the court where she received the WNBA Sportsmanship Award and the league's Entrepreneurial Award for outstanding community service as a rookie.
In her third season, Staley became the unquestioned leader of the Sting and helped orchestrate one of the sport's biggest comebacks. After starting the season 1-10, Staley became the ultimate 'coach on the floor,' propelling Charlotte to the WNBA Finals and, in the process, was voted as a starter in her first WNBA All-Star Game.
A four-time All-Star overall, Staley enters 2006 season ranked among the leaders in several all-time WNBA categories, including third in assists (1,204), 16th in free-throw percentage (.836) and 17th in steals (303).
After seven years with the Sting, Staley was traded to the Houston Comets in August of 2005. Just as had been the case in Charlotte, Staley's impact was immediate as she helped the Comets clinch a playoff berth.
As a collegian, Staley led Virginia to three Final Fours and was the national Player of the Year in 1991 and 1992. She finished her career as UVA's record-holder for points (2,135) and assists (729) and as the NCAA career leader in steals (454).
ANDREA STINSON, GUARD
DETROIT SHOCK (2005-Current) AND CHARLOTTE STING (1997-2004)
A three-time WNBA All-Star (2002, 2001, 2000) and two-time All-WNBA Second Team selection (1998, 1997), Stinson is an original WNBA player. After being assigned to the Sting in 1997, Stinson's impact was immediate as she was runner up to Cynthia Cooper in league MVP balloting that first season. Stinson went on to spend eight dynamic seasons with Charlotte, helping lead the club to the Eastern Conference crown in 2001 before signing with the Detroit Shock in 2005.
Entering the 2006 season, Stinson ranks third in league history in minutes played, fifth in assists (810), sixth in scoring (3,351) and ninth in steals (342).
At North Carolina State, Stinson ended her career ranked third in school history in scoring, field goals and steals and, to this date, remains the school record-holder for points in a single game.
A recipient of the United Negro College Fund Leadership Award while at NC State, Stinson has continued to make an impact off the court, working tirelessly in the community and garnering a WNBA Community Assist award for her efforts during the 2002-2003 off-season.
SHERYL SWOOPES, FORWARD
HOUSTON COMETS (1997-Current)
The only WNBA player to earn three league MVP awards, Swoopes has been named to five All-Star games and was selected as the league's Defensive Player of the Year three times. Having helped the Comets to four straight WNBA titles (1997-2000) and the USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team to three Olympic gold medals, Swoopes joins Sue Bird, Swin Cash and Ruth Riley as the only current WNBA players to have won at least one Olympic gold medal, one NCAA championship and one WNBA title.
In 2005, the Texas Tech product became one of only two players in league history to win both the All-Star Game and league MVP award in the same season. She also made history in 1999 when she recorded the league's first triple-double, a feat since accomplished by only three other WNBA players.
One of the league's original players, Swoopes enters 2006 as the WNBA's all-time leader in steals (520) while also ranking second in scoring (3,894), seventh in assists (775), 12th in blocked shots (188) and 17th in rebounding (1,134).
So great has been her impact on the game, Swoopes became the first woman to have a Nike basketball shoe named after her. Off the court, she has served as a spokeswoman for The March of Dimes.
DIANA TAURASI, GUARD
PHOENIX MERCURY (2004-Current)
After she led the University of Connecticut to three NCAA titles, the Phoenix Mercury made two-time National Player of the Year Taurasi the No. 1 pick in the 2004 Draft. Taurasi went on to be named the WNBA Rookie of the Year and was honored by ESPN as the year's "Best Female Athlete." That same year, she helped the USA win an Olympic gold medal.
In just her second pro season, Taurasi earned a spot on the All-WNBA Second Team after finishing third in the league in three-point field goals made (56), fourth in scoring (16.0 ppg) and fifth in both assists (150) and total points (527).
Her stature among the game's elite has resulted in her image being put on the covers of Sports Illustrated, ESPN The Magazine and the Los Angeles Times Magazine, and led to Nike making her the first female athlete to have a unisex shoe bear her name. Taurasi is actively involved in the league's community initiatives, serving as the national spokesperson for the nationwide Be Smart - Be Fit - Be Yourself fitness campaign and also works closely with the WNBA Read to Achieve and Jr. WNBA programs.
HOUSTON COMETS (1997-Current)
In the WNBA's inaugural draft in 1997, Thompson made history when she became the first woman drafted by the Houston Comets and the league. Thompson's impact was immediate and lasting as she helped lead the Comets to four straight WNBA titles (1997-2000) and subsequently amassed numerous individual honors.
One of less than 10 veterans still playing since the league's inception, Thompson has stayed on top of her game. Not only has she collected All-WNBA First Team (1997, 1998 and 2004) and All-WNBA Second Team (1999-2002) accolades, Thompson has also remained a strong fan-favorite. She was voted to the All-Star Team five consecutive times (1999-2003) and was selected as the WNBA All-Star Game MVP in 2000.
A key member of the 2004 USA Basketball Women's Team that earned an Olympic gold medal in Athens, Thompson also was an All-American and a finalist for the Naismith Player of the Year as a senior at Southern California.
Off the court, her sartorial splendor is such that she was voted as one of the league's best dressed in a poll of WNBA players.
TERESA WEATHERSPOON, GUARD
LOS ANGELES SPARKS (2004) AND NEW YORK LIBERTY (1997-2003)
A fierce competitor and leader, Weatherspoon is one of the original members of the WNBA. She became a legend in New York during seven seasons with the Liberty before ending her career with the L.A. Sparks in 2004.
Taking a page from some memorable chapters in basketball history, Weatherspoon placed her name alongside the all-time greats with a career-defining moment in the WNBA playoffs. With the Liberty facing elimination from the 1999 WNBA Finals and trailing the Houston Comets in the game's waning seconds, "TSpoon" sank an incredible three-point shot from the half-court line, sending the best-of-three series to a deciding third game.
At Louisiana Tech, where she led the Lady Techsters to two NCAA Finals and the 1988 championship, Weatherspoon also earned the Wade Trophy as the nation's best female college basketball player.
Following her graduation, Weatherspoon, spent nine years overseas in Italy and Russia, playing for four different teams. In 1988 she joined the U.S. Women's Senior National Team for its Olympic gold medal-winning run in Seoul, Korea.
INDIANA FEVER (2003-2005) AND UTAH STARZZ (1999-2002)
A dominant force under the boards since arriving in the WNBA as the third overall draft pick by the Utah Starzz in 1999, Williams stormed into the spotlight, posting big numbers in her first three campaigns and earning All-WNBA First Team honors in each of those seasons. A four-time WNBA All-Star, Williams' best season came in 2000 when she averaged a double-double, leading the league in rebounding (11.6) and ranking fourth in scoring (18.7).
Entering the 2006 season, Williams is among the WNBA's top 25 all-time in nine different categories, including ranking third in rebounds (1,832), 12th in field goals made (1,066), 14th in points (2,894), 19th in steals (270) and 22nd in blocked shots (122).
At UCLA, Williams was not only a two-time All-American in basketball, but a two-time National Player of the Year in volleyball after leading UCLA to NCAA volleyball titles in 1990 and 1991. On the hardwood, Williams averaged 20.4 points and 12.8 rebounds for her career, with the latter figure ranking tops in Pac-10 women's history.