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Storm Fills Needs in Draft

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Kevin Pelton, storm.wnba.com | April 5, 2006
Seattle Storm Head Coach and Director of Player Personnel Anne Donovan usually remains very tight-lipped in the days leading up to the WNBA Draft, but this year was an exception. With the Storm's needs at backup small forward, backup post and backup point guard readily apparent, Donovan admitted she was looking for a wing in the first round and to fill the other two positions in the next two rounds.

That's exactly what Donovan got Wednesday, taking UConn forward Barbara Turner with the 11th pick, Florida forward Dalila Eshe with the 25th pick and Texas Tech guard Erin Grant with the 39th pick.

"We had needs at all three places," Donovan said at the Draft's conclusion in a teleconference with the Seattle media. "It's surprising when you get the opportunity to draft to fill those needs. The Draft not being exceptionally deep, you basically take the best player available. In our case, we were able to get the best player available that did also fill needs for us."


"The strengths she possesses start with her athleticism. I think she has one of the best bodies you'll see in the game."
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While a handful of small forwards remained on the board after Indiana took North Carolina's La'Tangela Atkinson, a possible Storm target, Turner was the clear pick in Donovan's eyes.

"The strengths she possesses start with her athleticism," said Donovan. "I think she has one of the best bodies you'll see in the game. She runs the floor. She's going to get out and really run the floor well, rim to rim, really rebound the basketball.

"I think she's going to play on the perimeter, and there will be some transition with that. She's going to have to play against some of the best perimeter players in the world, so there will be an adjustment period. Her athleticism, her drive and her competitiveness really give her some advantages coming in."

In the second round, the Storm added versatility up front with Eshe, a 6-3 post player who is skilled enough to play at the high post and earned All-SEC First Team honors as a senior.

"Eshe is somebody that our staff followed closely, has great ability as a versatile post player and I think is really going to compete hard for a roster spot," said Donovan.

"She came in way under the radar screen for three years, then this last year at Florida really stepped out into a different role and shone for them, which was one reason why Florida had such a great season."

At pick 39, Donovan couldn't have imagined that Grant, one of the top point guards and likely the top passer available in the Draft, would still be available. WNBA.com's mock draft had Grant going to the Storm - in the first round.

"Our needs at that backup point are huge," said Donovan. "She's somebody that has great vision. She's going to need to work on her strength. I think that's the one thing that I see."

While none of the Storm's picks is guaranteed anything, all three will have excellent opportunities during training camp.

"The first thing they've got to do is come into camp confident and ready to compete," Donovan said. "All three of them, when I talked to them, I told them they've got great opportunities - not just filling bodies in training camp, but really competing for a roster spot."

With two and a half weeks until the start of camp on April 24, the Storm's training-camp roster is beginning to take shape but has yet to be finalized.

"We have 17 total and several of those are going to be late arrivals," said Donovan. "It is very possible that we'll add somebody else. We're debating that now, maybe another post player. We still don't have final word on (Suzy) Batkovic [who may miss the season because of commitments to the Australian National Team] yet, so of course once we get that, it will determine whether we need to fill that hole."

The two other Storm players whose contract status has yet to be resolved are starting forwards Iziane Castro Marques and Lauren Jackson. Castro Marques is a reserved player who can negotiate only with the Storm, but this summer's World Championships may also affect her. However, Donovan believes a deal is close with Castro Marques. She also has yet to finalize a deal with Jackson, a restricted free agent who could still be pondering the length of her next contract.

Donovan travels to Australia tomorrow to join the U.S. Senior Women's National Team for the Opals World Challenge, where she'll see Jackson and hopes to get a signed contract as well as a plan for Jackson's return to Seattle.

"The day after tomorrow, I'll see her and get specifics on when to expect her back," said Donovan. "But I'm hopeful she'll be on time."

Players who will arrive late to training camp include Sue Bird, Janell Burse and camp invitee Tiffani Johnson.