2006 Point Guard Prospects
The last two WNBA Rookies of the Year have been point guards, but they couldn't be more different. Diana Taurasi is a combo guard who could move to shooting guard this season and is a lethal scorer whose height poses constant matchup problems. Taurasi is part of a recent trend toward WNBA point guards who score more and are bigger than their predecessors, but Temeka Johnson emerged as a throwback last season en route to winning Rookie of the Year, finishing second in the league in assists at 5-3 (if that).
Johnson was one of four point guards drafted in the first round last April, but the only one to have a real impact on the league. Dionnah Jackson did not even make the Detroit Shock's roster, while Loree Moore played sparingly in New York, in part because of injuries. Kristin Haynie became a regular in the Monarchs rotation and the team showed its faith in her by protecting her and exposing fellow rookie Chelsea Newton in the Expansion Draft. Haynie should play a larger role this season.
The incoming crop has another Rookie of the Year contender who could be the top overall pick, and several players who could be drafted in the first round.
Storm Outlook: The starting point guard position is filled for the foreseeable future by one Sue Bird, but the Storm has an opening behind Bird after losing Francesca Zara in the Expansion Draft. Toccara Williams has been invited to training camp, but the Storm could look to shore up the position behind Bird with one of its three picks on April 5.
The measurements: 5-9, 160
The skinny: One of the consensus top four players in the Class of 2006, Pondexter could be the top overall pick and won't likely slip past Phoenix at number two. This season, Pondexter became the first player in Big East history to make the league's First Team all four season of her career. She's a finalist for basically every national player of the year honor and was Big East Player of the Year this season, averaging 21.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game to lead the Scarlet Knights to an undefeated Big East regular season. Pondexter isn't a classic point guard, splitting playmaking responsibilities at Rutgers with talented Matee Ajavon, but her WNBA coach will surely want the ball in her hands. It's hard to see any future for Pondexter that doesn't include instant and sustained professional success.
The measurements: 5-8, 150
The skinny: A highly-touted recruit who teamed with former Storm guard Michelle Greco in the Bruins backcourt as a freshman, Blue was an All-Pac-10 First Team pick all four years. There's plenty for WNBA teams to like about Blue, notably the fact that she has successfully balanced getting her own points and setting up talented teammates Noelle Quinn and Lisa Willis. Blue averaged 6.0 assists per game as a junior and 5.9 as a senior. She's a capable 3-point shooter who hit better than one a game this season at a 41.8% clip. Blue is outstanding in the open court and capable of playing inside in traffic, grabbing about five rebounds per game all four seasons at UCLA.
The measurements: 5-7, 135
College: Notre Dame
The skinny: A standout in the classroom and on the basketball court, Duffy was a Big East Academic All-Star throughout her Notre Dame career and was the conference's Scholar-Athlete of the Year as a senior. On the court, that translated into an assist-to-turnover ratio near two for the southpaw as a senior. Duffy will run an offense without making a ton of mistakes, though she's perhaps not as creative a set-up player as some of the other top point guard prospects. Duffy has 3-point range and was outstanding from downtown as a sophomore and junior, hitting better than 40%, before tailing off to 34.7% last year.
The measurements: 5-8, 125
College: Texas Tech
The skinny: A terrific distributor, Grant is the Big 12's all-time leader in assists with 844, averaging better than six a game throughout her career and 7.0 as a junior to rank third in the NCAA. She's quick with the basketball and has maintained an excellent assist-to-turnover ratio (2.15 as a senior). Grant isn't a big-time scorer, but averaged double-figures for the first time as a senior (12.0 points per game) and has developed her perimeter shooting after failing to make a single 3 as a freshman (though shooting is still not her strength).
The measurements: 5-7
The skinny: Kendrick burst onto the scene as a freshman, averaging 12.4 points and 5.1 assists to earn some freshman All-America accolades. Since then, Kendrick's individual numbers haven't been as big, but she's managed a Georgia team with plenty of talent, including backcourt-mate Sherrill Baker and post Tasha Humphrey, that is in the Sweet Sixteen. Kendrick has started all 131 games of her college career, and will break Kelly Miller's Georgia record for starts when the Bulldogs take on UConn this weekend.
|OTHER POINT GUARD PROSPECTS|
Cotelia Bond-Young, Wake Forest - Wake Forest's leading scorer the lat two seasons; a prolific 3-point shooter (85 makes as a senior) if not a particularly accurate one (on 34.4% shooting).
Lindsay Bowen, Michigan State - Haynie's backcourt-mate last year moved to point as a senior and saw her scoring take a hit. Not a true point guard, but will have to play the position at 5-7. Great shooter (43.0% from 3 as a junior) with big-game experience.
Crystal Smith, Iowa - Big-time scorer (17.2 ppg as a senior) who is more shooting guard than point but will have to play on the ball in the WNBA at 5-6.
Tasha Williams, Louisiana Tech - WAC Player of the Year as a junior, averaged 12.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.8 steals per game as a senior.