Mercury Draft Rutgers’ Pondexter with 2nd Overall Pick

Posted: April 5, 2006

The Phoenix Mercury today selected Rutgers guard Cappie Pondexter with the second overall pick in the 2006 WNBA Draft.

Phoenix acquired the draft rights to Connecticut guard Ann Strother (selected with the 15th overall pick) from the Houston Comets in exchange for the draft rights to Michigan State forward Liz Shimek (selected with the 18th overall pick) and Duke forward Mistie Williams (selected with the 21st overall pick).

The Mercury chose Iowa guard Crystal Smith in the third round with the 32nd pick overall.

“We’re very excited about adding Cappie Pondexter to our talented group of players,” head coach Paul Westhead said. “She’s an unselfish player who at the same time gives us another option in the clutch because she can create her own shot.”

Named a finalist for the Nancy Lieberman Award as the nation’s top collegiate point guard, the five-foot-nine Cappie Pondexter averaged 21.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.7 steals in her senior campaign. She shot a 48.3% from the field in 2005-06, including 48.8% from three-point range, and 81.0% from the free-throw line.

A member of the 2006 AP All America first team, Pondexter was unanimously selected the 2006 Big East Player of the Year after being named to the All-Big East First Team all four years at Rutgers. Pondexter is the only player in the conference’s history selected to the first team in all four seasons.

“Cappie is who we wanted,” said general manager Seth Sulka. “She’s a player who loves to compete, loves the game of basketball, and we think she gets us that much closer to our goal of returning to the playoffs and bringing a WNBA championship to Phoenix.”

Pondexter, who led her team to a 27-5 (.844) mark in her senior season (97-22, .815 in her career), was a finalist for the 2006 State Farm Wade Trophy, Naismith Award and John R. Wooden Award—all recognizing the player of the year in women’s college basketball.

A native of Chicago, Illinois, Pondexter is a member of the 2006 Women’s USA Basketball Senior National Team.

Guard Ann Strother, acquired via trade with Houston, is a six-foot-three-inch former teammate of Mercury guard Diana Taurasi’s at the University of Connecticut. In her senior season, Strother averaged career-highs of 14.0 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.

Crystal Smith averaged 17.2 points per game in her senior season at Iowa.

“Ann Strother and Crystal Smith are great shooters who can also run the floor and defend,” said Sulka. “They’re going to give us much-needed depth in both of those areas.”

Led by Coach Paul Westhead, the 2006 Phoenix Mercury open this 10th Anniversary season May 20, visiting the 2005 WNBA Champion Sacramento Monarchs in a nationally televised match-up on ABC. The Mercury host the Seattle Storm on Thursday, May 25, in the team’s 2006 home opener. Lower-level season tickets are on sale now and start at just $189 for 17 games. Click here for more information or call 602-252-WNBA.