Take a look back through the annals of sports history and there are not too many people who can say they were the top pick in a draft.
Janel McCarville is one of those people whose name will forever be linked with that number one spot as the Sting selected her with the top pick in the 2005 WNBA Draft.
�It�s definitely an honor,� she said after the draft. �Not a lot of women can say they�ve gone number one. There�s a lot of tradition and honor behind it. I feel lucky Charlotte drafted me number one.�
Fresh off an outstanding college career at the University of Minnesota, McCarville came to the Queen City looking to help the team in any way she could.
She did realize however that there was significant difference between the WNBA and college and it was going to take some time to get adjusted to playing in the league.
�It is pretty significant,� she said as she talked about the difference. �They play a lot faster in the WNBA. It�s more intense. There�s better athletes overall. From the number one player to the last player off the bench I think they�re very talented. Night in and night out everyone�s going to push each other.�
McCarville got her first real taste of the WNBA on May 21 as the Sting hosted the Washington Mystics. In that game, she grabbed six rebounds, four of them offensive, as well as scored two points.
�The first game is always the hardest,� she said after the game. �It�s just a transition period. I still have adjustments to make.�
Her transition was slowed though as she suffered a lower back sprain after seeing just three minutes of action in her second WNBA game. The injury would end up causing her to miss five games.
She returned to the court on June 12 as Charlotte hosted Seattle. In her return she grabbed six rebounds in 18 minutes of play.
�It felt really good being able to get back out there with my teammates,� she said. �I was really excited for it.�
Over the next six games, McCarville continued to improve as she averaged 4.7 rebounds and 3.2 points in 16.8 minutes over the next six games. She has one of her best performances of the season during that stretch, posting a season-high 11 points and seven rebounds against Washington on June 28.
Even though July turned out to not be the month she had hoped for, as she along with the Sting struggled to find their rhythm on the court, she continued to use the experience as a learning process.
�Even though we�re not having the season we want to have, I think I�ve got great people around me who are leading me and showing me the way. They show me how things have got to be done and how you�ve got to work.�
McCarville continued to put in the work and was given her first WNBA start on August 23 against Detroit. She grabbed four rebounds in the game as the Sting recorded a 56-49 victory. Over the final three games, she averaged 4.6 rebounds and 3.3 points in 17.7 minutes, including a seven-point, six-rebound performance in the season finale on August 27 against Connecticut.
She hopes to use these games as a building block as she returns for her second season.
�I know what I got beat on and did wrong during the season,� she told the Rapids Daily Tribune following the season. �You have obstacles in your way in life that you have to overcome.�
While she�s eager to get back on the court, she�s also looking forward to not having to do the dirty work associated with being a rookie.
�I�m glad it�s over and I don�t have to the dumb things like get down and carry bags anymore. I had a great season with the team. I love the team and I�m looking forward to being back.�