Thursday, April 5, 2007

Baylor forward Bernice Mosby might not have been the biggest player with the biggest name available with the sixth overall pick in yesterday’s WNBA Draft, but to the Washington Mystics she was the best choice as they try to improve on a franchise-best 18-16 season.

“We had her ranked third on our board, so when she had come down to sixth, we were really, really excited,” Mystics general manager Linda Hargrove said. “This is a player that we wanted on our team. We liked Camille Little [from North Carolina]; we liked her versatility. [But] in our rankings, Mosby was ahead of her.”

The move surprised some Mystics season ticket holders who gathered at the District’s ESPN Zone to watch the league’s 11th draft, which was held in Cleveland. The 6-foot-2 Little and Alison Bales, Duke’s 6-7 center, were still available, but Washington went with a 6-1 all-around threat its officials call a young version of Mystics player DeLisha Milton-Jones.

Mosby, who was an honorable mention All-American and a first-team All-Big 12 pick this season, averaged 17.6 points and 9.1 rebounds a game in leading the Bears to a 26-8 record.

“I know they have great players like Alana Beard, DeLisha Milton-Jones, Tamara James and Nikki Blue, and I like their style of play,” Mosby said. “Whatever they have me do to benefit the team, I’ll try to come in and play a significant role. A lot of people have told me a lot of good things about Washington. The people surrounding you make it a lot easier. I shouldn’t go in there worried about anything and just play my game.”

Bales went ninth overall to Indiana, and Little went in the second round to San Antonio, but the Mystics said they already had enough depth in the post. Earlier this offseason, the Mystics selected 6-3 center Teana Miller in the dispersal draft for the defunct Charlotte Sting. Washington also re-signed 6-3 forward/center Chasity Melvin and still has 6-4 forward/center Nakia Sanford on the roster.

“We just felt a girl like Mosby, who has a lot of qualities like Alana Beard and can play a lot of positions, is something we needed more than a big person inside,” Mystics coach Richie Adubato said.

Mosby said she can play either small or power forward. Hargrove said she saw Mosby go head-to-head against Texas forward Tiffany Jackson, whom the New York Liberty selected fifth, on numerous occasions. Hargrove said Mosby can create her own shot and jump over defenders.

“I trust what the organization is saying in that she’s pretty much a DeLisha Milton-Jones, and if she is even half of what DeLisha Milton-Jones is, we have a good pick,” Beard said.

In the second round at 19th overall — two picks after Little was chosen — the Mystics selected forward Megan Vogel out of South Dakota State. In the third round, they took 6-7 center Gillian Goring from N.C. State. Both Vogel and Goring will have to earn a roster spot during training camp.

“We’ll carry anywhere from 11 or 12 [players] based on the salary cap,” Hargrove said. “It’s likely that very few players outside the first round will make teams because there just isn’t a lot of room on everyone’s roster at this point.”

Locally, Maryland shooting guard Shay Doron was selected by New York in the second round with the 16th pick. Doron, who played high school basketball at Christ the King in New York, becomes the first Maryland player drafted since two went in the fourth round in 2002 — Deedee Warley to the Liberty and Marche Strickland to the defunct Cleveland Rockers.

Virginia Tech center Nare Diawara was taken in the third round (30th overall) by San Antonio.

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