- The Washington Times - Friday, April 19, 2002

This will be the day when the Washington Mystics' four-year run of futility ends. Here comes the cavalry.

Today's WNBA Draft will deliver the Mystics two impact players who most likely will start and transform the perennial losers into winners. Washington has the third and fourth overall picks of the four-round draft and appears to be in a can't-lose situation.

Who will the Mystics take? That's up to the Seattle Storm and Detroit Shock who pick in front of them.

For the second year in a row, the Storm have the top pick, but coach Lin Dunn has been listening to trade offers. The consensus is that the Storm will take Connecticut's point guard, Sue Bird, with the No.1 pick.

Pat Summitt, Tennessee's legendary coach and newly hired Mystics player personnel consultant, would neither confirm nor deny that the Mystics have approached Dunn about a trade. If the Mystics offered Dunn both first-rounders for the top pick, Dunn might make the deal because the Storm need multiple players to surround center Lauren Jackson.

But, said Summitt, "She is not going to trade the pick."

The Mystics need a point guard and low-post help, preferably a true center. However, there is no center in this draft that merits a top-five selection. If the Shock select Oklahoma 6-foot swing player Stacey Dales with the second pick, look for the Mystics to take North Carolina point guard Nikki Teasley and one of two available Connecticut forwards, 6-2 Swin Cash or 6-2 Asjha Jones, with their fourth pick.

During an online chat on the league's Web site, District native Teasley, who played at St. John's Prospect Hall in Frederick, Md., said, "I have given that a lot of thought. However, I'm blessed just to be considered one of the top picks, so wherever I go I'll be happy."

The 6-foot Teasley, who is UNC's alltime assists leader with 728 and averaged 15.2 points last season, is coming off a brilliant pre-draft camp where she dazzled WNBA coaches and general managers with her creative passing. Dunn thinks Teasley is one of the five best players available in this draft and is considering taking her with the top pick.

If that is the case, the Mystics will take Dales, a two-time first-team All-American and two-time Big 12 Player of the Year, with their third pick, because the Shock won't pass on Bird.

Teasley certainly would help the Mystics. With her height, she can post smaller guards on the baseline in clear-out situations. She also can hit 3s. Teasley shot 36.7 percent (77-for-209) from behind the arc this season.

Mysteriously, Teasley sat out all of her junior season at North Carolina. When asked why Teasley sidelined herself, Summitt cited "personal issues, personal reasons" and wouldn't elaborate other than saying, "it was her choice."

According to school sources, Teasley was an emotional wreck and needed the time off. One source likened Teasley to a star in a Greek tragedy.

Some mock drafts have the Mystics taking 5-7 Baylor point guard Sheila Lambert, who averaged 19.8 points and 6.5 assists last season. WNBA insiders say Lambert plays like a man and is the quickest player off the dribble in this draft.

"We like Lambert, we like Dales and we like Teasley," Summitt said.

Summitt also mentioned Iowa State 6-4 center Angie Welle as a possibility. But with Cash and Jones both available at No.4, the Mystics might be better served to take an athletic forward and not roll the dice on a center.

Cash, a first-team All-American, averaged 14.9 points and 8.6 rebounds, and Jones averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds for the undefeated NCAA national champions.

"What I know is there are really some outstanding picks in the top four to six, and we have two in that group," Mystics coach Marianne Stanley said. "I feel there are a number of different options for us, all of which are good."


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