During this past college season I had some interesting conversations with players that will be drafted on Wednesday and figured I'd share some of the stories.
ARMINTIE PRICE, Mississippi
She could be my favorite person in the draft. She is a sweetheart with a fascinating and heartbreaking background and after spending a few minutes with her, you can't help but like her. She also gives great quotes.
Fascinating: She started playing in the 8th grade and her mom almost did not let her play on the school team. Armintie is Pentecostal and the religion frowns on girls wearing pants and shorts. Armintie's mom allowed her to play for the school team only after the home ec teacher sewed a piece of an old jersey over the front of the shorts to make a skort - shorts that look like a skirt. She wore that uniform her entire high school career. Once she got to Ole Miss she decided to wear the uniform shorts. However, she only wears skirts and dresses when not in her hoop uniform or team warmup. I don't know if she'll be drafted first - although that is a strong possibility - but I DO know that she won't be wearing a pants suit like many other draftees
Heartbreaking: Armintie's mother passed away in August of '06 after a battle with ovarian cancer. Armintie told me that she could have dealt with it in either of two ways be angry that it happened or be thankful for the 21 years she got to spend with her mom. She chose the latter.
Best quote: I haven't seen anybody that plays the defense I play. I like to get after people and kind of claw their eyes out. Sometimes I try to put my coach's face on the offensive player and that helps.
LINDSAY HARDING, Duke
Could easily be the number one pick. If not, I'd be shocked to see her drop lower than 2 San Antonio really needs a point guard. Lindsay is exactly what you want from that position she's steady, makes big plays, is a good decision maker. She's also what you want in an interview: Extremely articulate and insightful when answering questions.
Lindsay told me that she called almost all of the offenses this past season at Duke. Coach G would go over the game plan in the locker room before games and tell her team what she wanted ie. Attack the basket, push tempo, look for open 3s. While coach was doing this, Lindsay said she would go through her own mental rolodex of plays to know which ones would accomplish her coach's goals. She also based her play calls on the personell on the court with her.
It's a great luxury for a coach when they have a player capable of thinking this way. It might have stemmed from the season she was suspended for breaking team rules. She practiced with the team and sat next to Coach G during games. Lindsay told me that during games she would try to guess which play coach would call before it came out of her mouth. It helped her earn a better understanding of what her coach was thinking and what she wanted in different situation.
KATIE GEARLDS, Purdue
Katie Gearlds was a joy to watch in person when I covered the Dallas regional. She is an extremely confident kid and has great size for a shooting guard. She's willing to run all over the court to get herself open and only needs a second of daylight to get it off. She isn't the least bit shy to shoot but understands the difference between a good shot and a bad one. (There's nothing worse than a player who likes to gun but doesn't know which shots are good and which aren't.) Of course, she can be injury prone sort of... read on and you'll know what I mean.
Torn Medial Molar Ligament? The morning of the Big 10 tournament semifinal, Katie Gearlds was brushing her teeth when she strained a muscle in her neck.
She couldn't hold her neck up without discomfort and couldn't look to the right without a lot of pain. Throughout the course of the day, Katie underwent about 3 hours of treatment so she could play that night. It was sore for a few days but the treatment worked well enough for her to score 17 points in that game.
CAMILLE LITTLE, North Carolina
Camille Little is an intriguing player because she is versatile, athletic, and skilled. She's also carefree and a lot of fun. A few tidbits
She is a communications major but not sure exactly what area she wants to pursue. She could work behind or in front of the camera. To help decide, she is pursuing an internship with Fox Sports Net next fall. She hopes to work in the Atlanta marker. Why Atlanta? Read on
Camille has been dating former Tar Heel and current Atlanta Hawk Marvin Williams for almost two years. I asked her if Marvin gives her advice and she said, No. You get enough advice from everybody else parents, cousins
I don't know if he's given her any draft advice.
IVORY LATTA, North Carolina
Ivory is one of the most dynamic and fun-loving personalities in the draft. Her attitude on the court reminds me of Teresa Weatherspoon. Of course, Ivory has a better jumper than T-Spoon ever did. How confident is Ivory in her offensive game? She told me,
I have a lot of confidence in my shot - if I miss the first shot, I believe I'll hit the second. I love taking big shots.
When I asked if she wanted the ball in her hands when the game was on the line she said, YOU KNOW THAT!!
She has a friendship with rapper Ludacris (he came to UNC's December game against Tennessee) and, along with her Tar Heel teammates, recorded a rap song to CD last month (on assistant coach Charlotte Smith's recording machine).
She claims to be 5-6 but there's no chance of that. No matter, Temeka Johnson proved that a small point guard can be very successful in the WNBA.