Storm Selects Lennox in Dispersal Draft

The Seattle Storm's newest player, shooting guard Betty Lennox, is no stranger to drafts. She was selected sixth overall by the Storm yesterday in the WNBA's 2004 Dispersal Draft, marking the second straight year that Lennox has been selected from the roster of a defunct team. She was taken third overall last year by the Cleveland Rockers after spending a half-season with the Miami Sol.

Lennox was the 2000 WNBA Rookie of the Year.
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In the 27-year-old Lennox, the Storm is getting a scorer. As a rookie with the Minnesota Lynx in 2000, when she was named Rookie of the Year, was the only rookie to make the All-Star team, and was named All-WNBA second team, Lennox averaged 16.9 points per game. Last season, playing a reserve role for the Rockers, Lennox averaged 7.6 points.

That production, should Lennox again come off the bench, would be very useful for the Storm. After forward Amanda Lassiter replaced the injured Adia Barnes in the starting lineup, the Storm's highest-scoring reserve in 2003 was center Simone Edwards at 4.6 ppg.

The Phoenix Mercury provided a surprise to start the Dispersal Draft. Expected to take forward LaToya Thomas, giving them consecutive first picks overall (the Mercury holds the first pick in this year's amateur draft), Phoenix instead went with Australian forward Penny Taylor. An All-Star in 2002, Taylor's stock in the Dispersal Draft was tarnished by the possibility that Basketball Australia could force Taylor to choose between playing a full WNBA season or playing with the national team in next summer's Olympics. In conversations before the draft, the Arizona Republic reported, Taylor told the Mercury she will play next season.

The Washington Mystics too passed on Thomas, though only because they already have All-Star Chamique Holdsclaw at power forward. With a glaring need for a center, the Mystics chose 6-3 Chasity Melvin, a 2001 All-Star and the Rockers leading scorer and rebounder last season. With the third pick, the San Antonio Silver Stars were thrilled to add Thomas, who tied with Gwen Jackson of the Silver Stars as runner-up for last year's Rookie of the Year.

Holding the fourth pick, the New York Liberty chose Ann Wauters, the first pick of the 2000 WNBA Draft who sat out last season, and the Indiana Fever followed by taking wing Deanna Jackson.

Given the players left on the board, the 5-8 Lennox was an obvious choice. A natural scorer who can shoot from the perimeter (she is a career 35.3% three-point shooter), Lennox has struggled to find a WNBA home. A strained left hip capsule that eventually required arthroscopic surgery held Lennox to ten games during her second season, and rookie Svetlana Abrosimova took her starting job. The Lynx dealt Lennox to the Miami Sol early in the 2002 season.

During her one season with the Rockers, Lennox played an inconsistent role on a team crowded at shooting guard with both Jackson and veteran Merlakia Jones, who, as an unrestricted free agent, was not eligible for the Dispersal Draft. A streak shooter, Lennox had some outstanding games. She scored 20 points or more on three occasions, including opening night against the Los Angeles Sparks. Lennox also scored 14 points in Game 2 of Cleveland's first-round playoff loss to the Detroit Shock, a 66-59 win for the Rockers.

No Storm reserve scored 20 points or more last season, and just three of the team’s players (Sue Bird, Sandy Brondello and Lauren Jackson) reached that mark at all.

“Betty is an exciting player who adds solid depth to our perimeter game,” Storm Coach Anne Donovan said in a prepared release. “She’s an explosive shooting guard who has had tremendous success in this league.”

The Storm knows what it is getting in Lennox, as both of the team’s assistant coaches, Jessie Kenlaw and Jenny Boucek, have worked with her in the past. Kenlaw was an assistant coach during Lennox’s senior season at Louisiana Tech, where Lennox just missed teaming with Storm center Alisa Burras, who graduated the year before Lennox transferred in. Boucek was Lennox’s assistant during her half-season with the Miami Sol.