Phoenix takes shooter with fifth pick

Mercury Select Kelly Mazzante in Dispersal Draft

PHOENIX, Jan. 8, 2007 — The Phoenix Mercury added depth and a sharpshooter to their All-Star backcourt today, selecting former Charlotte Sting guard Kelly Mazzante with the fifth pick in the dispersal draft.

Originally taken by the Sting with the 18th overall pick (second round) in the 2004 WNBA draft, the 6-0, 155-pound shooter spent the last three seasons as a reserve in Charlotte and is coming off of her best season as a professional in 2006. Mazzante made the third-most three-point field goals in the WNBA last season (64), and posted career-high averages of 8.9 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 21.3 minutes. Mazzante, 24, shot a career-best 38.3 percent from beyond the arc (11th-WNBA).

“There were certainly a lot of good players in this draft,” said Mercury General Manager Ann Meyers Drysdale. “But [Mercury Head Coach] Paul [Westhead] and I agreed that Kelly Mazzante fits perfectly into the system we run and that she was who we needed to select. We’re very excited about the opportunity to pick Kelly.”

This addition gives the high-powered Mercury offense two of the three most prolific three-point shooters from 2006, teaming Mazzante with league scoring title winner Diana Taurasi, who made a league-record 121 three-pointers. It potentially gives Phoenix three players who were in the top 17 in three-point percentage in 2006 (Taurasi, Mazzante, and Cappie Pondexter), more than any other team.

Mazzante’s best game as a pro came at US Airways Center on August 3, 2006, when she tallied a career-high 18 points in a loss to the Mercury. The three-year veteran played in all 34 games last season for the second time in her career.

“Kelly, with her scoring ability, will fit nicely into our fast-break, high-powered offense,” said Mercury Head Coach Paul Westhead. “She’s a good player who will bring good energy and scoring and we can never have enough of that. She will fit in well with our team.”

A three-time Kodak All-American at Penn State, Mazzante finished her collegiate career as the all-time leading scorer in Big Ten conference history (male or female) with 2,919 career points (ninth all-time in NCAA Division I). The two-time AP All-American first team member averaged 21.9 points in her four-year career as a Nittany Lion.

Winners of a franchise-high seven straight to finish 2006, the Phoenix Mercury look to pick up where they left off led by All-Stars Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter in the record-shattering offense of head coach Paul Westhead that scored a WNBA-record 87.1 points per game. Under the direction of new general manager Ann Meyers Drysdale and owners of the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 WNBA Draft, the Mercury open their 11th WNBA season on Saturday, May 19 at 7:00 p.m. at US Airways Center against the San Antonio Silver Stars.