Mercury Choose Auburn’s DeWanna Bonner With No. 5 Pick

By Stefan Swiat, PhoenixMercury.com
Posted: April 9, 2009

In the Phoenix Mercury’s war room Thursday, an eruption of applause occurred when the Minnesota Lynx selected Renee Montgomery with the fourth overall pick. It wasn’t that the Mercury's front office and coaching staff were elated for their friends in the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” it was because they knew that they had gotten their woman.

Because the draft had gone differently than Phoenix had planned, Mercury Head Coach Corey Gaines was worried that the Lynx were going to snatch up guard/forward DeWanna Bonner. But to the club’s surprise, its prize prospect was still available when it came time to select, making the decision to scoop up Bonner with the No. 5 pick that much easier.

“We’re excited,” Mercury General Manager Ann Myers Drysdale said on choosing Bonner. “All along she’s been our No. 1 pick and we think she fits in great with our lineup and our style of play.”

Gaines first became aware of the Auburn star two years ago when Bonner’s father approached him and started informing the Mercury coach about the talent that his daughter possessed. Dismissing her father as yet another proud parent promoting his child, Gaines didn’t pay the raves much mind until he first saw Bonner while he was scouting the SEC Tournament two years ago.

After connecting the dots between father and daughter and realizing who she was, it dawned on him that he had received an incredible tip. In fact, if there was some way that she was eligible for the draft last year, he would have tried to draft her then.

“I had a wish list and there was only one name on there,” Gaines said. “I thought that she’d be gone because she’s definitely going to change the way the WNBA is played with her style and ability.”

Bonner is an extremely unique player that can play all five positions on the court. At 6-4, she’s long, lanky and possesses a great ability to run the court. Gaines has been impressed with her ability to score, finish at the basket, rebound and block shots.

The former Tiger led the SEC in scoring at 21 points a game, while also pulling down 8.5 rebounds a night. She was named the SEC Player of the Year as well as a State Farm/WBCA First-Team All-American in her senior season.

When Phoenix made the offseason acquisition for veteran playmaker and former Rookie of the Year Temeka Johnson from the Sparks, the need for the Mercury to find a point guard in the draft became resolved. So as they prepared for this season’s draft, they were in search of versatility.

“I can plug her around in different spots,” Gaines said. “That’s something that’s important now in our league.”

Not only will she be an asset on offense, but she’s predicted to be an ideal component for the Mercury’s “rover” defense. At the point of their zone defense is the said “rover” position, whose job it is to harass and trap perimeter players. Gaines already sees the potential in using Bonner as the “rover” because of her speed and wingspan.

At Auburn, Bonner finished as the second all-time rebounder in school history, while also leading the team in blocks per game during her final season.

The slender guard believes that the Valley of the Sun could be a perfect fit for her.

“I like the philosophy of running that they have in Phoenix,” she said. “They also have a great reputation as an organization there.”

Bonner said being drafted was “a dream come true” and that she “can’t wait to meet Diana Taurasi.”

But as an incoming rookie, Bonner already seems to know her role.

“I hope she gives me the ball… when she’s not scoring,” Bonner said. “I never thought I’d be playing with Diana Taurasi. It is such an honor.”

Third-Round Picks

In the third round, the Mercury selected Florida guard Sha Brooks with the 31st overall pick and George Washington center Jessica Adair with the 34th overall pick Thursday.

A 5-7 guard, Brooks led her team in scoring this past season while averaging 16.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists. She started all but one of her 126 career games and never missed a game in four seasons at Florida.

Brooks was a unanimous 2009 All-SEC selection and was a 2009 Associated Press All-American Honorable Mention. She left Florida with collegiate averages of 14.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.

Adair also led her school in scoring in 2008-09, notching averages of 13.7 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.65 blocks. The 6-4 center graduates with career averages of 12.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.37 blocks and was named to the All-Atlantic 10 First Team in 2007 and 2008

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