Storm Focuses on Second Round

Who's up for seconds? The Seattle Storm is, having traded its first-round pick to Minnesota yesterday in a three-player deal and its third-round pick to Houston prior to the season for guard Rita Williams. That leaves the Storm with just one pick left in tomorrow's WNBA Draft, the 19th selection of the second round.

Anticipating where the Storm will go with the pick is about like trying to predict what the weather will be like a year from today. There are some general guidelines one can go by, but the sheer number of factors involved make the forecast next to impossible.

Naturally, the buzzword with the second-round pick is "Best Player Available".

"What (Coach) Anne (Donovan) said to me, is at No. 19, we're looking for the best player we can get, just someone who can come in and compete at training camp," Storm chief operating officer Karen Bryant told the King County Journal.

If the Storm does factor in need at all, it seems more likely to go for a guard, particularly one who can play point, after picking up a post and a wing player in yesterday's deal.

Three guards in particular are likely picks. Texas A&M's Toccara Williams has been mentioned as a possible first-round pick after a strong pre-draft camp, but could last until pick 19. Purdue's Erika Valek is an experienced floor leader who won last year's Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award. The local favorite is Washington's Giuliana Mendiola, who is expected to go around that part of the draft.

"The hometown player aspect in the first round doesn't come into play," Donovan told the Tacoma News-Tribune last week. "You're just trying to get the best player. The second round it might factor in a little, and it would in the third round."

Amongst forwards, Vanderbilt's Jenni Benningfield, Louisiana Tech teammates Amisha Carter and Catrina Frierson, USC's Ebony Hoffman and Tennessee's Ashley Robinson could be selected in the middle part of the second round.

Despite acquiring center Janell Burse yesterday, the Storm could look to add another center as a project for Donovan to work with. She helped Tammy Sutton-Brown, selected with the 18th pick in 2001, develop into an All-Star in Charlotte. If the Storm goes that route, Colorado's Tera Bjorklund and intriguing 6-8 UC Santa Barbara product Lindsay Taylor are possibilities.

Any of those players could be taken before the Storm picks, or a projected first-round selection could slip down to the Storm. Or is another trade a possibility? It's all part of the excitement of the WNBA Draft, which airs tomorrow morning starting at 9 a.m. Pacific on ESPN, with the second and third rounds (and the Storm's pick) on NBA TV.