July 8, 2010 -- There was some mildly surprising news out of Tulsa this week, specifically regarding Natasha Lacy, who had consistently been a part of WNBA.com's Rookie Rankings since the start of the season. I say "mildly surprising" because just last week I had noticed some ominous signs that she was being phased out of the Shock's rotation. The team phased Lacy out completely on Monday by releasing her and signing guard Ivory Latta, who rejoins the Shock, although the first time around she was a member of the Detroit version.
With that, Lacy has been removed from the Rookie Rankings, even though her season numbers would still warrant her inclusion. While she was never a threat to challenge Tina Charles for Rookie of the Year honors, earlier in the season she was among the league leaders in assists and steals. So there's a good chance Lacy could catch on with another team, or even come back to Tulsa, at which point she could be right back among the top 5 rookies.
For now though, a spot in the rankings has opened up.
Skinny: In the least shocking rookie news of the week Charles was named Rookie of the Month for June. On the heels of this honor, Charles will take part in The Stars at the Sun game on Saturday as a member of the USA Basketball team that will take on a squad of WNBA All-Stars. It'll be interesting to see how well Charles performs in a game that features the elite of the elite, although Candace Parker and Lauren Jackson will be unable to play because of injuries. Even though Charles is a rookie and veterans usually get more run in such exhibitions, expect to see plenty of Charles since she will be playing in front of her home crowd and she figures to be one of the faces for USA Basketball for years to come. Previous ranking: 1
Skinny: Prince started this past week with a couple of strong shooting performances (3-6 FG vs. CON, 3-7 FG @ ATL) and the Sky won both important Eastern Conference clashes. But she made only 1-of-5 FG attempts in Chicago's last contest, which results in a loss to another East power -- Indiana. Prince continues to show that she can contribute in more ways than just scoring though, as she dished out four assists in 20 minutes off the pine. Still, the Sky are a much more dangerous team offensively when she can find her shot. Previous ranking: 2
Skinny: Griffin ends the first half of her rookie season with mixed reviews. While she's been able to stay in Connecticut's lineup because of her defense and rebounding, she hasn't yet come through with the production that has come to be associated with a top 3 selection. Of course, that could come in time. However, the Sun might not have the luxury of being patient, as they have dropped three straight and five of their last seven to fall to fourth place in the East with New York and Chicago right on their heels. Previous ranking: 3
Skinny: With Lacy out Greene slides into the spot previously held by her at No. 4. Greene turned in one of her best offensive performances this past week, scoring 11 points on 5-of-11 shooting, but her numbers came in a lop-sided loss to the Mercury, whose games typically result in inflated totals. However, it should be noted that Greene scored the majority of the points before the game got out of hand late in the third quarter. Consistency is something that is still lacking for Greene, who the Liberty need to contribute night in and night out in order for them to leap frog teams in the ultra-competitive East. Previous ranking: 5
Skinny: Vesela, not to be confused with vuvuzelas, makes her Rookie Rankings debut thanks in large part to her last outing. Vesela, a Czech Republic native who signed a training camp contract with Seattle prior to the season, scored a season-high 10 points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting from the floor, including 2-of-2 from three-point range, in the Storm's victory over the Liberty on Tuesday. Storm fans probably already know this, but you might want to keep your eye on Vesela in the second half of the season. As a veteran of the Euroleague and the Olympics, Vesela is a seasoned pro and could prove to be the most underrated addition of the past off-season... assuming she continues to get minutes. Right now she's seeing more court time mainly because Jackson is sidelined with a concussion. Previous ranking: NR
Last week, Lauren Hill of Mount St. Joseph University courageously took the floor for her first college game, refusing to let an inoperable brain tumor keep her from achieving her dream – and WNBA stars Elena Delle Donne and Tamika Catchings were on hand to lend their support.