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2006 Shooting Guard Prospects

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Kevin Pelton, storm.wnba.com | March 27, 2006
When the WNBA announced its inaugural All-Rookie Team last fall, there were two shooting guards in the five-player group. That Tan White would be an All-Rookie pick after the Indiana Fever selected her with the second overall pick was hardly a surprise, but the other member of the All-Rookie Team was the 22nd pick, Sacramento's Chelsea Newton. Newton moved into the starting lineup to start the season and stayed there all season as the Monarchs won the WNBA Championship. (Then, however, Sacramento had to leave Newton exposed in the Expansion Draft, and she was selected by the Chicago Sky.) White's season was a slight disappointment. Expected to contend for Rookie of the Year honors, White shot just 33.5%.

Storm first-round pick Tanisha Wright also contributed heavily as a rookie, particularly late in the season. Wright faced an adjustment to the league's new rules interpretations prohibiting contact on the perimeter, but she caught on in the second half and filled in very well when Betty Lennox was injured during August. The Storm went 5-3 with Wright as a starter. The other shooting guard from the 2005 Draft who proved valuable as a rookie, albeit in a limited role, was undrafted Laurie Koehn, who shot a league-high 46.7% from 3-point range.

Storm Outlook: The Storm re-signed Lennox this off-season to a multi-year contract and still have Wright on her rookie contract through at least 2007. That would seem to make shooting guard a distant priority for the Storm in the Draft, though players who are versatile enough to play the point or small forward could be of interest

SHERILL BAKER

WNBA.com profile
The measurements: 5-8
College: Georgia
The skinny: Baker isn't the prospect that White was entering the WNBA, but they have certain similarities. Both players are undersized SEC shooting guards who rely on their quickness. Baker really blossomed as a senior, averaging 18.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. She also shot 53.1% as a senior, up from 43.2% as a junior, which was previously her career high. Baker really shines at the defensive end of the court, pilfering a league-leading 146 steals - a remarkable 4.7 per game - as a senior to break White's SEC career record and Teresa Edwards' Georgia record. Baker's size will be something of an issue, but she probably will be able to play point for brief stretches in the WNBA.

TAMARA JAMES

WNBA.com profile
The measurements: 5-10
College: Miami
The skinny: James is an outstanding scorer who became Miami's all-time leading scorer during the WNIT and averaged at least 20 points per game during three of her four seasons. An All-Conference pick the last three years (2003-04 in the Big East, the last two years in the ACC) James did it while shooting a very solid 49.7% in her career and averaging 6.7 rebounds per game. James spent a fair amount of time in the post, which will be a tough order in the WNBA at 5-10, but she has a perimeter game (48 3s on 38.1% accuracy as a senior) and is a safe bet to make the transition. Did you know? During her first two years at South Broward High School, James played with new Storm guard Toccara Williams.

LISA WILLIS

WNBA.com profile
The measurements: 5-11, 170
College: UCLA
The skinny: One of UCLA's three All-Pac-10 guards, Willis distinguished herself in college with her versatility. As a senior, Willis posted 17.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.2 apg and 3.6 spg. She's got good size for a two guard, has 3-point range (she's the Bruins all-time leader with 253 triples, hitting them at a 42.0% clip as a senior) and doesn't have any obvious major weaknesses. Willis projects to be a solid player who can immediately step in and contribute as a reserve, not unlike what Wright did for the Storm last season.

SHANNA ZOLMAN

WNBA.com profile
The measurements: 5-10
College: Tennessee
The skinny: If WNBA teams needed a reminder of what Zolman can do, they got it Sunday as she led Tennessee's win over Rutgers by scoring 18 of her career-high 29 points in the second half and shooting 5-for-9 from 3-point range. Zolman is the best pure shooter in the Draft, an honor that didn't help Koehn get drafted last year. But Koehn still ended up outplaying several high draft picks, and Zolman is a more complete player who has been able to run the point for the Lady Vols down the stretch after Sade Wiley-Gatewood transferred and Alexis Hornbuckle suffered a broken wrist. Zolman is a 42.2% career 3-point shooter in college, and while the WNBA line is longer by nine inches, only seven players (minimum 50 attempts) hit that percentage last season.

SHONA THORBURN

WNBA.com profile
The measurements: 5-10
College: Utah
The skinny: Half of the Canadians by way of Utah who figure to play a prominent role in this year's WNBA Draft (along with forward Kim Smith), Thorburn has the size and ability to play either guard position in the WNBA (she played point guard most of her Utah career, but is listed as a shooting guard here to even out the positions a bit). Ann Meyers compared Thorburn to countryman Steve Nash during the NCAA Tournament, and while she'll be very lucky to have that kind of WNBA career, Thorburn does an effective job of balancing looking for her own shot and setting up others a la Nash. The Co-Mountain West Player of the Year as a junior along with Smith, the versatile Thorburn averaged 14.9 points, 6.2 boards and 6.2 assists that season and 12.0, 6.5 and 7.3 this year, including the first triple-double in MWC history in the conference championship game. Thorburn needs to improve her 3-point accuracy (32.5% in her career) and quickness might be a problem against smaller point guards.

OTHER SHOOTING GUARD PROSPECTS
LaTonya Bond, Missouri - All-Big-12 First Teamer averaged 17.3 ppg as a senior and can play the point.
Scholanda Houston, LSU - Noted athlete and defender who has 3-point range (37.6% this year) played a secondary role in leading Tigers to three straight Final Fours.
Kari Koch, Missouri State - Heir to Jackie Stiles as high-scoring guard for former Southwest Missouri State; became third player in MVC history to score 2,000 career points.
Megan Moody, Tulsa - Aussie native has plenty of size to play forward at 6-2, but is versatile enough to play guard.
Aarica Ray-Boyd, Louisiana Tech - Led WAC in 3-point shooting as a freshman (44.7%); also has good size at 6-1.