WNBA SELECTS 32 PLAYERS; WOLTERS MEETS HARTFORD'S FAITHFUL
The WNBA held its inaugural draft yesterday as 32
players were selected by eight teams. The Houston Comets
selected USC All-American Tina Thompson with the first pick.
The WNBA begins its season on June 21 (WNBA). In S.F., Jake
Curtis writes that "of the dozen top college seniors
targeted by both the WNBA and the American Basketball League
in their competition to sign high-profile players,
[Stanford's Jamila] Wideman and Thompson were the only two
signed by the WNBA" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 4/29). In Hartford,
around 400 people greeted the ABL's press conference
announcing Kara Wolters' signing with the Blizzard (Bruce
Berlet, HARTFORD COURANT, 4/29).
TALE OF TWO LEAGUES: In Hartford, Jeff Jacobs compares
the WNBA and ABL: "At this point, it's hard to determine
whether the WNBA is a basketball league or the Jock Miss
America Pageant. ... [the] WNBA seems content as arena-
filler to jackknife between tractor pulls and indoor
football." Jacobs, on the ABL: "Women's basketball might be
huge in Hartford. But there's a bigger beast than the WNBA
in much of America. It's called potential lack of interest"
(HARTFORD COURANT, 4/29). USA TODAY's Dick Patrick profiles
the two leagues, noting "If the ABL has the edge with '96
Olympians and the class of '97, the WNBA counters with three
marquee names" in Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes and Rebecca
Lobo. But Patrick writes the WNBA's "reputation is less
player-knowledgeable and player-friendly," and that it
"alienated some players with its inflexible approach on
salaries and decision deadlines." Jerome Stanley, agent for
Tina Thompson: "It's hardball. It's the same as the NBA
only it's dressed up because this is women and it's new"
(USA TODAY, 4/29). In N.Y, Jack Cavanaugh calls the Wolters
signing "another coup" for the ABL and a "balm of sorts" for
Hartford which is "still reeling" from the Whalers' decision
to relocate (N.Y. TIMES, 4/29).