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"We are pleased to build upon a new tradition of holding our pre-draft camp and the WNBA Draft alongside the events of the Final Four," said Orender. "Players compete in the Final Four one day and are then drafted the next in a rite of passage that is about dreams fulfilled and inspired. The WNBA looks forward to celebrating the great accomplishments, growth and success of women's basketball and the great athletes who play the game."
Cleveland will host the NCAA Women's Final Four on April 1 and 3 at Quicken Loans Arena as well as the Women's Basketball Coaches Association National Convention. In addition to the Draft, the WNBA will host and participate in several events throughout the week.
"On behalf of our Local Organizing Committee and our host institutions, Cleveland State University and the Mid-American Conference, we are thrilled the WNBA Draft is coming to Cleveland," said David Gilbert, President & CEO of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission. "The Draft will serve as a great extension to all of the excitement brought to town by the Women's Final Four and the celebration of women's basketball in our city."
On March 30 & 31, the league's annual Pre-Draft Camp will be held at Cleveland State University, where WNBA coaches and general managers will be afforded the opportunity to evaluate the skills of approximately 40 top global prospects. Players will participate in on-court sessions and compete against one another in hopes of improving their draft status. All sessions will be closed to the public, but open to the media for the final 30 minutes. Players and team representatives will be available for interviews following each session.
Also on March 30, Orender will participate in a panel discussion on Title IX during the Girls and Women Rock: Celebrating 35 Years of Sport & Title IX Symposium to be held at Cleveland State University's Wolstein Center. The symposium will be part of a conference presented by McDonald Hopkins and the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission to discuss the past, present and future implications of Title IX and the issues that challenge its progress. This year marks the 35th anniversary of Title IX and the Education Amendments of 1972.
Last year marked the first time the WNBA Draft was held during the week of the NCAA Women's Final Four. In previous years, the event was held at NBA TV studios in New Jersey while prior Pre-Draft Camps were conducted in the either metropolitan New York or Chicago. The WNBA will invite youth league and high school basketball players from Greater Cleveland to the Draft day event.
In addition to ESPN HD's coverage of the 2007 NCAA Women's Final Four, ESPN2 will provide exclusive first round coverage of the 2007 WNBA Draft presented by adidas with continued coverage of the second and third rounds on ESPNU and NBA TV. WNBA.com will also provide complete analysis and comprehensive coverage throughout all three rounds.
"Pairing the WNBA Draft with the Women's Final Four is perfect, with the excitement of crowning the National Champion on ESPN and then a new era beginning with the Draft the next day in the same city on ESPN2," said Pat Lowry, ESPN coordinating producer remote production. "We look forward to providing coverage of another draft this year in Cleveland and allowing fans to continue following their favorite college stars in the WNBA."
The Phoenix Mercury beat the odds to win the first overall selection in the Draft during the WNBA Draft Lottery on October 26, 2006. It marked the first time that the team with the smallest odds of winning the top pick actually came away with the number one selection. The Mercury had 25 chances out of 1,000 to receive the first overall selection. The San Antonio Silver Stars and Chicago Sky will pick second and third, respectively.
This year's draft class is headed by North Carolina guard Ivory Latta and Ohio State center Jessica Davenport. Other top players expected to be selected are Duke's Allison Bales and Lindsey Harding, Maryland's Shay Doron, Temple's Kamesha Hairston, UCLA's Noelle Quinn, Purdue's Katie Gearlds and Mississippi's Armintie Price.