Lindsay Whalen Returns Home to Play for Minnesota Lynx

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Lynx today announced that they have acquired former University of Minnesota women’s basketball star and Hutchinson, Minn., native Lindsay Whalen, along with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 WNBA Draft in exchange for guard Renee Montgomery and the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 WNBA Draft. With the trade, Whalen returns to her home state after elevating the Golden Gopher women’s program to national prominence during her storied four-year career at Minnesota, which included the school’s first-ever Final Four appearance in 2004, her senior year.

"We're very excited to announce the acquisition of Lindsay Whalen," said Lynx Executive Vice President Roger Griffith. "She's a proven, All-Star caliber floor leader who's in the prime of her career, and we expect her to step in and be a great leader for our team, both on and off the court. She's been one of the elite point guards in the WNBA for the past six years and brings an extensive amount of playoff experience to our roster. To get a player of Lindsay's caliber at the peak of her career is a major coup for us. With the addition of Whalen and Rebekkah Brunson, whom we acquired via the dispersal draft of Sacramento Monarchs players, we now have five WNBA All-Stars on our roster and we expect to compete for a WNBA Championship in 2010. We will miss Renee, and thank her for her contributions to our team."

"I'm really excited about the opportunity to come home and play in front of my hometown fans," said Whalen. "I believe Minnesota is a team with a lot of talent, and is ready to contend for the top spot in the Western Conference. I'm thrilled with the chance to play with one of the great scorers in the WNBA in Seimone Augustus and learn under the direction of Cheryl Reeve. With that being said, I'm very thankful for everything the Connecticut Sun organization has done for me the past six years; Coach Thibault and the entire staff there. I'm ready for a new challenge and expect to win a lot of games with the Lynx in 2010 and beyond."

Originally drafted fourth overall in the 2004 WNBA Draft by the Connecticut Sun, Whalen, 27, has averaged 11.6 points, 4.9 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game in 197 career regular season WNBA games (196 starts), all with Connecticut. With 2,290 points, 832 rebounds 964 career assists, Whalen is on pace, in 2010, to become just the third player in WNBA history with 2,500+ points, 1,000+ rebounds and 1,000+ assists. Her 4.9 assists per game ranks fifth all-time in WNBA history. A WNBA All-Star in 2004, Whalen's best season came in 2008, when she averaged 14.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, a league-leading 5.4 assists and 1.5 steals per game en route to finishing runner-up to Candace Parker for league MVP in the closest vote (277-242) in league history. That year she became just the second player in league history to average at least 10 points, five rebounds and five assists in a season, joining Nikki Teasley. In 2009, the five-foot-nine guard started all 34 regular-season games for Connecticut, averaging 12.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game (fifth-most in the WNBA) while recording her fewest turnovers per game of her career, 1.85.

A veteran of postseason play, Whalen has appeared in 26 playoff games in her six-year WNBA career, posting averages of 12.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. Whalen led the Sun to the WNBA Finals in 2004 and 2005. As a rookie in 2004, Whalen averaged 13.4 points and 5.1 assists in eight playoff games, all starts.

Whalen’s acquisition gives the Lynx five players on their roster who have previously been selected to play in a WNBA All-Star game (Seimone Augustus, 2006 and 2007; Nicky Anosike, 2009; newly-acquired Rebekkah Brunson, 2007; Charde Houston, 2009; Whalen, 2004).

“Obviously, the entire Minnesota Lynx organization is thrilled to have Lindsay Whalen in a Lynx uniform,” said Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve. “I'm excited to have the opportunity to coach such a talented point guard. Lindsay's court awareness, ability to rebound, leadership skills and decision-making in the half court will have a great impact on our team.”

A native of Hutchinson, Minn., and Hutchinson High School's career scoring leader, Whalen chose to stay home and play collegiately for her hometown Minnesota Golden Gophers. During her historic four-year run at Minnesota, Whalen singlehandedly revitalized the Golden Gophers, leading the team to three-straight NCAA Tournament appearances (2002-2004), after the school had been to the NCAA Tournament just once before her arrival. Average attendance at women’s basketball games grew from 1,087 during her freshman season to 9,866 her senior year. Minnesota’s all-time leading scorer with 2,285 points, Whalen became the first player from the University of Minnesota to earn All-American honors in three different seasons (2002-2004). A two-time Wade Trophy Finalist (2003, 2004), which is given annually to the top collegiate player, Whalen was just the third player in Big Ten history to garner Player of the Year honors as a sophomore (2002).

The most decorated player in Golden Gopher program history, Whalen owns school records in points, scoring average, games in double figures, free throws made and free throw percentage. A two-time Naismith Award Finalist, Whalen also placed among the top ten leaders in field goals made, field goal attempts, field goal percentage, three-pointers made, three-pointers attempted, three-point field goal percentage, free throws attempted, assists and steals. Whalen became the school’s all-time leading scorer on January 25, 2004 against Michigan State, surpassing 1994 Wade Trophy winner Carol Ann Shudlick. Whalen’s 2,285 career point total ranks fifth all-time in Big Ten history. Whalen, a three-time All-Big Ten First Team honoree (2002 – 2004), is the only four-time Team MVP in school history. Whalen’s number 13 is retired and honored with a banner hanging from the rafters in Williams Arena.

Whalen capped her remarkable collegiate career with an improbable run to the 2004 Final Four. As the #7 seed in the Mideast Regional, the Golden Gophers defeated #10 seed UCLA, #2 seed Kansas State, #3 seed Boston College and #1 seed Duke to reach the program’s first-ever Final Four. In five NCAA Tournament games that year, Whalen averaged 19.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game, earning NCAA Mideast Region MVP honors. Whalen’s 27-point, 6-rebound, 4-assist, 4-steal effort lifted the Gophers over Duke in the Elite Eight. Whalen tallied 11 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists in Minnesota’s 67-58 Final Four loss to Connecticut. In 10 career NCAA Tournament appearances, Whalen holds averages of 20.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game.

Whalen will be the fourth Minnesota native to play for the Lynx, joining Minneapolis North's Tamara Moore, Susan King Borchardt of Holy Angels and Rochester's Kelly Miller. Whalen is currently playing in Prague, Czech Republic, averaging 14.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game in eight EuroLeague contests and 9.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game in 11 ZBL games with USK Prague.

With the trade, the Lynx now own the Nos. 2 and 3 picks in the 2010 WNBA Draft, the first time in league history that a team has owned multiple picks in the top 3.

Montgomery, originally drafted fourth overall in 2009 by the Lynx, heads to Connecticut after averaging 9.0 points, 2.1 assists and 1.9 rebounds per game her rookie year.