#Fever15 Moments: Fever Draft Tamika CatchingsTweet
The Date: April 10, 2001
The Indiana Fever drafted Tamika Catchings, a forward out of the University of Tennessee, with the third overall selection in the 2001 WNBA Draft. Since arriving in Indiana, Catchings has cemented herself as one of the greatest players in WNBA and Indiana history.
Catchings had a prolific career playing for legendary coach Pat Summitt. As a freshman, Catchings was a key part of the Lady Vols' national championship team that went 39-0. Catchings was named USBWA and SEC Freshman of the Year and earned NCAA All-Final Four honors. She was AP, Naismith, USBWA and WBCA Player of the Year in 2000 as a junior and a three-time first-team All-SEC selection. Catchings is one of only two four-time WBCA All-Americans in school history.
In her career at Tennessee, Catchings averaged 16.6 points and 7.9 rebounds per contest during her four years at Tennessee. She currently ranks fourth in school history in career scoring (2,113) and rebounding (1,004), and was inducted into the Lady Volunteer Hall of Fame this past November.
But despite her prolific collegiate career, there was some concern about Catchings heading into the 2001 WNBA Draft. 17 games into her senior season, Catchings tore her right ACL, an injury that would end up sidelining her for the entire 2001 WNBA season. Nonetheless, the Fever jumped at the opportunity to take Catchings with the third pick, behind Lauren Jackson (who went first overall to Seattle) and Kelly Miller (second overall to Charlotte).
When Catchings finally made her WNBA debut in 2002, she proved to be well worth the wait, having one of the most dominant rookie seasons in WNBA history. Catchings won Rookie of the Year and was runner-up in voting for both MVP and Defensive Player of the Year. She became the first player in franchise history to be named to the All-WNBA First Team. She ranked in the WNBA’s top 10 in points (18.6 per game), rebounds (8.6), assists (3.7), steals (2.9) and blocks (1.3). And she did all this despite playing half the season while wearing a mask after suffering a broken nose.
The Fever reached the postseason for the first time in Catchings' rookie season, where their star forward averaged 20.3 points and 10.7 rebounds per game.
Over the years, Catchings has rewarded the Fever for their patience a thousand times over. She has spent her entire career with the Fever, earning eight All-Star and 11 All-WNBA selections while capturing the league's Defensive Player of the Year award a record five times (2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, and 2011). Since 2005, Catchings has guided the Fever into the playoffs in eight consecutive seasons. She ranks in the top-10 on the WNBA's all-time charts in virtually every major statistical category and is a three-time Olympic Gold Medalist with the United States women's national team.
Catchings was named WNBA MVP in 2011 and WNBA Finals MVP in 2012 after leading the Fever to the first WNBA championship in franchise history.
There is no question that drafting Tamika Catchings was a moment that transformed the Fever franchise. With Catchings in the fold, a fledgling organization blossomed into a perennial power.
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