Mystics Search for Cornerstone with Number Two Overall Pick

The Washington Mystics know firsthand the value of a number two overall draft pick. In 2004, the Mystics called the name of now franchise-player Alana Beard on draft day. On April 9, the Washington Mystics will again pick second with the hope of landing yet another impact player.

After a busy off-season that saw the Mystics deal the ninth and 15th overall picks in this April’s draft to acquire point guard Lindsay Harding, general manager Angela Taylor is now deep in draft preparations.

“The value of the number two pick for us is extraordinary as we try to build a championship team,” Taylor said. “There are some quality kids coming out of the draft this year, and we are being very diligent in identifying the player that best fits into our plans at #2.”

High atop the Mystics wish list are Louisville forward Angel McCoughtry, Oklahoma center Courtney Paris, University of Connecticut guard Renee Montgomery, Auburn guard DeWanna Bonner, and the University of Maryland duo of guard Kristi Toliver and forward Marissa Coleman.

Angel McCoughtry, a Baltimore native and two-time All-American at Louisville, has been compared to former WNBA great Sheryl Swoopes. The explosive six-foot-one-inch forward can score from anywhere on the court. Defensively, McCoughtry is averaging nearly five steals per game.

“McCoughtry is one of the first players since Sheryl Swoopes who has the ability to impact the game on both ends of the court,” Taylor said. “She’s a match-up nightmare in that she can score over smaller guards and is too quick for forwards to defend off the dribble. I think she’ll make an immediate impact on the defensive end in the pros.”

Courtney Paris, the 2006-2007 AP National Player of the Year at Oklahoma, is a double-double machine. The powerful six-foot-four-inch center has the potential to be a dominating post-player. Despite facing constant double-teams, Paris is averaging nearly 16 points and 14 rebounds per game this season.

“The consistent dominance that Courtney has demonstrated over her four years at Oklahoma is remarkable,” Taylor said. “She impacts the game in a variety of ways that don’t show up on the stat sheet. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a true low block post like a Kym Hampton.”

Renee Montgomery, the point guard for top-ranked UConn, is the consummate floor general. Not only is she a reliable scorer, distributor, and defender, Montgomery is also an excellent leader.

“Being a four-year starter and the vocal leader for a program like UCONN speaks volumes about what Renee will bring to the league,” says Taylor. “She is a versatile guard who can play either the 1 or the 2, can score from 3 or off the dribble, has a great understanding of the game, and makes others around her better.”

The term ‘versatility’ best describes Auburn’s wiry six-foot-four-inch guard DeWanna Bonner. The two-time All-SEC performer can play three positions and can score from anywhere on the court.

“[Bonner] is one of the most unique players that we’ve seen in the women’s game in a long time,” Taylor said. “At 6’4”, she can handle the ball, shoot the 3, defend multiple positions, and rebound.”

Maryland’s jitter-bug point guard Kristi Toliver is perhaps best known for her clutch step-back three pointer in the 2006 national championship game. Toliver, the recipient of the 2008 Nancy Lieberman Award for the nation’s top point guard, is a prolific scorer with deep range and exceptional quickness.

Coleman, the 2005 Washington Post All-Met Player of the Year and Toliver’s teammate on Maryland’s 2006 national championship squad can do a little of everything. The six-foot-one-inch guard/forward is the only player in Maryland history to ever record a triple-double.

“Not only are [Toliver and Coleman] winners but they are the ultimate competitors,” Taylor said. “They have consistently demonstrated that they can score from anywhere on the court and that they have the ability to put a team on their back while taking over a game. You wouldn’t mind having the ball in either one’s hands when the game is on the line.”

With the additions of veteran center Chasity Melvin, talented guards Lindsey Harding and Matee Ajavon, the Mystics have a great deal of flexibility with the number two pick.

“A couple of these players could start right away for a few WNBA teams,” Taylor said. “The amount of playing time and the role that our #2 pick plays in the upcoming season will depend largely on how quickly she makes the transition from the college game to the pros as well as on how she competes in training camp. Due to recent roster moves that filled some voids, we have the luxury of bringing her along at her own pace, which will be beneficial over the long run.”