White, Paige Highlight Fever Draft
The Indiana Fever set out to improve its backcourt during the 2005 WNBA Draft, and while drafting a pair of guards with the 2nd and 16th selections, also captured the nation’s leaders in scoring and assists.
Mississippi State’s Tan White, an all-around talent who averaged 23.5 points per game as a senior, was the second overall pick of the draft, following Minnesota’s Janel McCarville who went to the Charlotte Sting. In the second round, Indiana chose West Virginia’s Yolanda Paige, a point guard who pushed the ball up the floor last season to the tune of 9.0 assists per game. In the third round (29th overall), Indiana selected Ashley Earley, the fourth Vanderbilt player taken by the Fever in the past three drafts.
White, a 5-7 All-American who also averaged 7.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.0 steals last season, is the Fever’s first player ever from Mississippi State. It was at MSU that she teamed with LaToya Thomas, the No. 1 player chosen in the WNBA Draft in 2003.
“We got the player that we wanted,” said Fever Head Coach Brian Winters, speaking of White. “She is a perfect addition to our guard corps. She gives us another big-time scorer next to Tamika Catchings. She was the leading scorer in the nation, she has great quickness and great slashing ability to the basket. She knows how to play and score, and she gives us an added dimension. We were very happy to get her with the second pick.”
Asked about playing on an opposite wing as Fever All-Star and Olympian Tamika Catchings, White replied, “I’ve watched her a lot and I think I can work pretty well with her.”
When asked about comparing her game to that of NBA star Allen Iverson, she replied, “Well, our styles of play are similar. I like to penetrate, cross-over, and dish the ball, so I guess we do some of the same things. He’s a great player, it’s an honor if someone compares me with him.”
Fourteen picks after White’s selection, Indiana nabbed Paige, who Winters envisions as an spark to the Fever’s transition game. She averaged 11.6 points per game during her senior year at WVU while breaking the school’s single-season assist mark for the second straight season. Perhaps just as impressive, she posted a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
“Yolanda Paige is the type of point guard that loves to push the ball,” said Winters. “She makes great decisions in transition and she loves to deliver the ball to people. She is not looking to score herself – she can score, but she’s your traditional point guard who wants to get the ball to other people. When you have a player like that, other players want to run with her. If we have Kelly Miller or Tan White or Tamika Catchings running the lane with her, they know that if they’re open, they’re going to get the ball.”
White and Paige join a Fever backcourt that was also bolstered this winter with the free agent acquisition of veteran point guard Tully Bevilaqua, formerly of Seattle and Portland. Together, the new trio joins sharpshooters Kelly Miller, a 34-game starter who was the co-recipient of the WNBA’s Most Improved Player Award in 2004, and Coretta Brown, one of the league’s rookie sensations in 2003.
“One of our goals in the offseason was to get stronger at the guards,” said Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Kelly Krauskopf. “The second pick in the draft helped us do that. We’re very excited about our selections, and about our team.”
1st Rd (2nd overall) - Tan White, Mississippi St., G, 5-7, 23.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 3.5 apg, 3.0 spg
2nd Rd (16th overall) - Yolanda Paige, West Virginia, G, 5-6, 12.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 9.0 apg, 1.1 spg
3rd Rd (29th overall) - Ashley Earley, Vanderbilt, G-F, 5-10, 18.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 2.1 apg, 2.1 spg
Indiana opens training camp on Sunday, April 24.
Single-game tickets for all Fever home games are available at the Conseco Fieldhouse Box Office and all Ticketmaster locations. Tickets may also be purchased by calling (877) WNBA-TIX or by visiting www.ConsecoFieldhouse.com. Full- and half-season ticket packages are available by contacting a Fever ticket sales account executive at (317) 917-2500.