In the 20 days leading up to the 20th annual WNBA Draft, WNBA.com and @WNBA are highlighting the first 19 No. 1 overall picks and their place in league history. Our 20-day countdown continues with Janel McCarville, the first selection in the 2005 WNBA Draft.
With the first pick in the 2005 WNBA Draft, the Charlotte Sting selected center Janel McCarville out of the University of Minnesota.
After averaging a double-double in each of her final two college seasons, and helping lead the Golden Gophers to the 2004 Final Four alongside future WNBA star Lindsay Whalen, McCarville struggled in her first two WNBA seasons as she was plagued by injuries and limited playing time.
With Charlotte ceasing operations following the 2006 season, McCarville was claimed by the New York Liberty as part of the dispersal draft and finally started to showcase the talent that led to her being a No. 1 overall draft pick. She was named the WNBA’s Most Improved Player in 2007 after averaging 10.4 points (more than double her previous season average), 4.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.2 steals.
She followed that up with two more productive seasons with New York before taking a two-year hiatus from the WNBA. In 2013, McCarville was acquired by the Minnesota Lynx as part of a three-team trade. In Minnesota, McCarville reunited with Whalen and provided the Lynx with a veteran post presence with the ability to score, rebound and make plays for teammates.
McCarville helped Minnesota win its second WNBA championship in three years (and her first WNBA title) as the Lynx finished the playoffs a perfect 7-0. McCarville scored 10 points in Minnesota’s title-clinching Game 3 win over Atlanta. She would play one more season in Minnesota, but did not return for the 2015 season. However, she has continued to play professionally overseas.