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Australia's Lauren Jackson Signs With WNBA

NEW YORK, April 18 -- Lauren Jackson, the leading scorer and rebounder for Australia's 2000 silver medal-winning Olympic basketball team and one of international basketball's rising stars, has signed a WNBA player contract, making her eligible for the 2001 WNBA Draft. Jackson highlights the list of 12 potential first round draft picks who will be present at the NBA Entertainment Studio in Secaucus, N.J., for the ESPN2 telecast of the draft on Friday, April 20, beginning at 11:30 a.m. EDT.

Lauren Jackson
6-5, Forward/Center, Australia
Lauren Jackson in action
28.8+ | ISDN+
Joining Jackson in-studio for the ESPN2 telecast will be Ruth Riley and Niele Ivey of NCAA champion Notre Dame and the NCAA all-time scoring leader, Jackie Stiles of Southwest Missouri State. Svetlana Abrosimova of Connecticut, LaQuanda Barksdale of North Carolina, Tamika Catchings of Tennessee, Camille Cooper and Katie Douglas of Purdue, Marie Ferdinand of LSU, and Kelly and Coco Miller of Georgia will also be present at the draft.

Jackson, a 6-5 center from Albury, Australia, has played the past two seasons for the Canberra Capitals in Australia's Women's National Basketball League. The 19-year-old was named the co-MVP of the WNBL in 2000 and MVP in 1999 after leading her teams to two consecutive WNBL championships. Canberra captured the crown in 2000, and in 1999 she led her former team, the Australian Institute of Sports (A.I.S.), to the title. Jackson led the league in rebounding and blocks in 2000-01 (14.2 rpg/4.3 bpg) and in 1999-2000 (11.1 rpg/2.5 bpg).

Along with ESPN2's live coverage, all four rounds will be available on TV, the league's 24-hour television network. The draft will also be simulcast on, allowing fans and prospects to log on to see the draft results. The Houston Comets' Coquese Washington will host the draft cybercast and provide periodic reports for television on the reaction online from WNBA fans. Washington, who also serves as an assistant coach at Notre Dame, recently became the first WNBA player to coach in the NCAA Women's Final Four.

Matt Devlin will host ESPN2's telecast and will be joined by three ESPN/ESPN2 women's basketball analysts -- Hall of Famer Ann Meyers, Doris Burke and Vera Jones. The telecast will mark the first-ever national television coverage of the event, which features what many consider the strongest field of draft prospects in the WNBA's five-year history.

The WNBA, the world's preeminent women's sports league, will tip off its fifth year on Memorial Day, May 28, with the four-time champion Houston Comets meeting the Los Angeles Sparks at the Compaq Center in Houston. The game will be televised nationally by NBC at 3 p.m., EDT.

According to a January ESPN Sports Poll, fan interest in the WNBA now ranks 4th overall among professional sports leagues in the U.S. In addition to being the longest running women's professional basketball league in the U.S., the WNBA was also the most successful league launch in sports history. The WNBA's extensive national television schedule has expanded to reach audiences on ESPN, ESPN2 and NBC. During the 2000 season, a record 2.5 million fans attended WNBA games, and the WNBA's combined local, national and international television coverage reached nearly 60 million viewers in 23 different languages and 158 countries.

The Seattle Storm will have the first selection in the four-round draft, followed by the other 15 league teams in inverse order of last year's regular-season records.

2001 WNBA Draft order

Commentators announced for ESPN2's draft broadcast

Talent abounds in draft class of 2001

Official list of eligible draft prospects