Hall of Famer and ESPN analyst Ann Meyers provides her analysis of the 2004 WNBA Draft, a draft that many coming into believed to be the deepest and most versatile in the league's eight-year history. Ann offered her insight and scouting reports for the top players prior to the draft and
now she talks about what ocurred at the NBA Entertainment
studios in Secaucus, N.J.
WNBA.com: Where there any surprises in this year's draft?
Meyers: "We knew the first seven, I think, but when Chandi Jones went at No.7 to Phoenix we thought maybe some trades would happen. And then Rebekkah Brunson went to Sacramento, that was a surprise as we thought that Iciss Tillis would go there. That is what we were told would happen from speaking to GMs. But I think overall that the draft went as everybody thought."
WNBA.com: In your scouting report on the players involved in the draft you anticipated that Vanessa Holden, the center from Florida, may be selected by the Charlotte Sting with the third pick but they went for Nicole Powell. Any thoughts on that?
Meyers: "What was interesting is that Hayden was the top big player in the draft, so how could a 6-4, 6-5 kid drop because of an injury. If Hayden is that good, go ahead and take her. Then they turnaround and draft Jia Perkins in the third round who won't be able to play this upcoming season because of a medical issue. They seem to be willing to wait for her and I think why not wait for Hayden. But Powell is so versatile, and it's not a bad pick at all."
WNBA.com: Despite attempts to evaluate a draft at the time, how long does it take to really evaluate a draft?
Meyers:"That's a good question. It's very hard as the league has become a veteran league and so in the past young players did not have the opportunity to play as much. But now with free agency and salary cap issues, teams may begin to go with younger players and a number of mid-level vets may not be picked up due to salary reasons. So these players may have an impact sooner than in the past."
WNBA.com: You mentonied during the telecast that in 2000, it was the fourth year of the league and that was the first draft class that went through college with the WNBA in existence and this being the eighth year, makes it the first class to have gone through high school and college with the WNBA. Can you tell us what that means?
Meyers: Sure. "Rebecca and Pam alluded to it on air as well. We now have a lot of McDonald's High School All-Americans with more exposure. There's local and national tv covering the game now. Then if you have the opportunity to go to schools like UConn, Tennessee or a Purdue, people and fans around the country are familiar with the names. Teams like Connecticut are more than happy to get a Lindsay Whalen who played in Minnesota because they know her and know what she can do. Diana Taurasi can be successful whether she's in New York or Los Angeles. It used to be teams wanted local players but now the WNBA is like the NBA in that players go where they are drafted and teams can be succsessful."
WNBA.com: Do you see the Diana Taurasi and Alana Beard combo being like the NBA's version of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony?
"Yes. We have a league now with some star players in their 30's and it will be good to have some players as exciting as those two who will be around for a while. Look at what Larry Bird and Magic did for the NBA and like you mentioned LeBron and Carmelo. Players like Diana Taurasi and Alana Beard bring youth and exburance."
WNBA.com: Can you name one or two teams that matched thier needs the best?
Meyers: "Phoenix did tremendous. They got five players - one in a trade, Shereka Wright that will be announced later. Ashley Robinson, drafted in the second round will help out as will Maria Villarroel. They are a young team with a star [Taurasi] like Cleveland [Lebron James] in the NBA. I don't know if they have have a [coach] Paul Silas who can lead them but they did well.
"Also, Minnesota with Whalen at the point guard. But I also like Detroit getting Iciss Tillis. She's player who can shoot. Finally, Houston. They drafted Stacy Stephens late but she is player that reminds me of Wes Unseld or Charles Barkley and Adrian Dantley. Players who just do things you don't expect. Look at what she can do and not what she can't."
WNBA.com: So, how exciting was it today?
Meyers: "It's always exciting. This is my fifth year doing it and it's great. The new kids coming in and the teams wanting to get better. Even teams that are on top have to make changes as you can not stay the same. Its exciting because teams like Houston wnat to get back on top. Teams like Washington are hungry and have high hopes. The new coaches in the league. All that generates excitement."