Posted: April 6, 2006
One day after being selected by the Mercury second overall in the 2006 WNBA draft, Cappie Pondexter was in Phoenix for the first time and spoke with PhoenixMercury.com about life, basketball, and dining in Italy with Diana Taurasi.
Pondexter has a glowing smile, and a quiet and honest confidence about her, is very polite and well spoken. Most importantly, Mercury fans should be ready for a very fast and exciting season in 2006. ďCP-23Ē definitely looks and sounds ready to compete to help lead the Mercury back to the playoffs. With what could easily be the most talented backcourt in the WNBA, a championship is no longer a dream, it is the goal and a reality.
PhoenixMercury.com: How did you feel after being drafted yesterday by the Phoenix Mercury with the second pick?
Mercury guard Cappie Pondexter: It was great knowing that my dream is right in front of me. It is something that I worked hard for, for 11 years.
PhoenixMercury.com: Tell the fans about your tattoo.
Pondexter: That tattoo was a motivational thing, Iíve (had) it since my junior year in high school. A lot of people thought that it was cocky, it was never meant to be that. It was a motivational thing. Now that (the dream is here) I just got to keep going forward.
PhoenixMercury.com: What did you do prior to draft day, after your Rutgers season ended in the Sweet Sixteen?
Pondexter: I had a lot of obligations, I went to the 3-point shoot-out and the Menís Final Four. After that, I went to Boston for the Senior Kodak All-Star Game. And then (I) went to the Draft, (the whole while I was) training with USA Basketball.
PhoenixMercury.com: Did you have to meet a lot of General Managers and Coaches prior to the draft?
Pondexter: The funny thing is the only GM I met was Seth (Sulka). We happened to bump into each other at the Pre-Draft Party in Boston.
PhoenixMercury.com: What do you feel is your biggest asset that you bring to the Phoenix Mercury?
Pondexter: My leadership, being able to distribute and getting the ball in places for (teammates) to score.
PhoenixMercury.com: What do you look forward to most coming to the Mercury?
Pondexter: Playing with Diana. Iíve admired her for a long time, sheís a great player. Sheís a proven winner and Iím sure I (will) learn a lot from her.
PhoenixMercury.com: What do all the awards you have won or been a finalist for mean to you?
Pondexter: It means a lot, each year and every day, your coaches and your teammates push you to be the beset you can be, without them, ( I ) wouldnít have the accolades. Really I thank my teammates and my coaches for (them). At the same time I am honored.
PhoenixMercury.com: How important is it to have a great coach? You played for a Hall of Fame coach at Rutgers in C. Vivian Stringer and now for a NBA Champion coach in Paul Westhead?
Pondexter: Having a great coach means you have the opportunity to be a great player. I fell short in winning a National Championship in college. But coming to Phoenix brings me that much closer to getting a ring. Coach (Westhead) is great and I canít wait to start.
PhoenixMercury.com: Tell us a memorable story about your four years playing for Team USA.
Pondexter: (I enjoyed the) camaraderie with my teammates. I got close with Seimone Augustus. We had been playing NCAA basketball for a while, when she got cut the first two times, and then made it the last two times, it was exciting to see her growth was pretty cool.
Also I have to say this, Diana is going to kill me, we were at an Italian restaurant, she loves Italian, she ended up eating a spoonful of garlic and made the nastiest looking face, it was really funny. I think it made her sick.
PhoenixMercury.com: Have you been to Phoenix before?
Pondexter: Iíve never been to Phoenix this is (my) first time. Iím excited, this is a new place, a new beginning, new teammates, new coaches, Iím going to enjoy it. (Warm weather) is better than cold! Coming to a hot place will be great, (especially) after growing up in Chicago, and New Jersey pretty much my whole life.
PhoenixMercury.com: Tell us a bit about growing up.
Pondexter: I was born in Oceanside, California. I grew up in Chicago in a small community and went to a Christian school from preschool to seventh grade. Then I went to public school from eighth grade through high school then on to Rutgers. Chicago was pretty cool, but rough at the same time. Luckily, I had my family and my religious background to keep me focused on my dream of playing professional basketball.
PhoenixMercury.com: What has been one of the most important things in helping you get where you are now?
Pondexter: Faith has guided me through a lot, good times and sad times. Itís all because of God that I am here right now.
PhoenixMercury.com: Do you have a nickname?
Pondexter: (The fans) can call me CP.
PhoenixMercury.com: Do you have any friends in the WNBA?
Pondexter: I have a lot of friends (in the WNBA). Chelsea Newton is my best friend and plays for the Sacramento Monarchs, sheís a graduate from Rutgers. Tammy Sutton-Brown who plays for Charlotte (is also a good friend).
PhoenixMercury.com: Do you have any friends in the NBA?
Pondexter: Iím pretty cool with Luther Head, LeBron, Eddie Curry, Antoine Walker, and Shawn Marion and I kind of know each other from Chicago.
PhoenixMercury.com: Why did you wear number 25 at Rutgers? What number do plan to sport for the Mercury?
Pondexter: I plan to change my number. I (wore) 25 (at Rutgers) because I got it in high school, it was the only jersey (number) left and it kind of just stuck with me through my career. Now in Phoenix I plan to change to number 23.
PhoenixMercury.com: How did you, being the best player and a Parade Womenís basketball player of the year get stuck with the last jersey?
Pondexter: In high school I wanted number 10, but a senior had it. The coach said that we could play one on one for it, but I wanted to show her respect and so I let her have it.
PhoenixMercury.com: Tell us about your passion for Jordan brand basketball shoes.
Pondexter: I think itís a Chicago thing. Theyíre like a religion! You got to have the Jordanís! If you donít, youíre not cool at all! Iíve been obsessed, I am a big fan of Jordan and his game, and once they come out I have to have a pair. My favorite pair are the patent leather black and white (XI).
PhoenixMercury.com: Who are you looking forward to playing against the most this season?
Pondexter: Seimone Augustus, weíre really close and I look forward to playing against her.
PhoenixMercury.com: Anything you have to say to the Phoenix Mercury fans?
Pondexter: Thank You!
PhoenixMercury.com: What advice would you give to girls who want to improve their game and try to make it to the next level?
Pondexter: Continue to always get better, work on your game all the time that you have, and make sure you love it. Love it with everything, because (that love) will get you to the highest level.