May 18, 2012
STANFORD, Calif. - Six Stanford Women's Basketball alumnae begin a new season alongside the world's best this weekend as the WNBA's 16th season tips off Friday night.
The newest Cardinal alumna in the league will feature in the WNBA opener as 2012 No. 1 overall pick Nnemkadi Ogwumike and the Los Angeles Sparks visit the Seattle Storm Friday night. The opener tips off at 7 p.m. PT on NBA TV.
Also donning jerseys this opening weekend will be Nicole Powell '04 (New York Liberty), Candice Wiggins '08 (Minnesota Lynx), Jayne Appel '10 (San Antonio Silver Stars), Kayla Pedersen '11 (Tulsa Shock) and Jeanette Pohlen '11 (Indiana Fever).
All six Cardinal players were also WNBA first-round picks.
Once she takes the court Friday night, Ogwumike will become the 25th Stanford player to play in a WNBA regular-season game. As the top overall pick in April's draft, she was also the Cardinal's 10th first-round selection.
Ogwumike, Stanford's first WNBA overall top pick, springs into the WNBA after her third straight All-America season on The Farm. The 2012 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award recipient became just the fourth player in Stanford history to average a double-double over a full season when she scored 22.5 points and grabbed 10.2 rebounds a game this past season.
The Cypress, Texas native set Stanford single-season records with 809 points scored, a 22.5 scoring average, 191 free throws made and 230 attempted. A consensus All-American, Ogwumike was also named Pac-12 Player of the Year for the second time as well as MVP of the Pac-12 Tournament and Fresno Regional while leading the Cardinal to a 35-2 record and its fifth straight Final Four.
Stepping into her rookie season, Ogwumike joins a Sparks team that finished fifth in the Western Conference last year with a 15-19 record.
Wiggins, still Stanford's all-time leading scorer with 2,629 points, enters her fifth year in the league with Minnesota, the defending WNBA champions.
Coming off of an injury-plagued 2010 that limited her to just eight games, Wiggins played all 34 regular-season games in 2001, scoring 5.9 points a game while shooting 39.5 percent from 3-point range.
In the playoffs Wiggins averaged 4.0 points a game, hitting eight 3-pointers as the Lynx powered through three rounds to win its first WNBA title. Wiggins starred in the title-clinching contest, scoring 10 points with five rebounds and two assists in Minnesota's 73-67 Game 3 victory that finished off the sweep of the Atlanta Dream in the WNBA Finals.
Powell, the most-tenured Cardinal player in the league, begins her ninth season overall and third in New York in 2012. The Liberty opens its 2012 season Saturday at 1 p.m. PT, hosting the Connecticut Sun.
Originally drafted third overall by the now-defunct Charlotte Sting, Powell, Stanford's first three-time All-American and one of just four Cardinal members of the 2,000-Point/1,000-Rebound Club, spent a year in Charlotte before moving on to the Sacramento Monarchs from 2005-09. There, she helped lead the Monarchs to the franchise's only WNBA title in 2005.
After the Monarchs folded in 2009, Powell was selected first by the New York Liberty in the ensuing dispersal draft.
The 2005 WNBA Most Improved Player and a one-time All-Star (2009), Powell has played 268 games in her WNBA career, starting 236. She averages 10.9 points and 4.3 rebounds a game and is a 38.3-percent 3-point shooter for her career heading into the 2012 campaign.
Last year she averaged 9.7 points as the Liberty went 19-15 to claim the fourth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot. In the playoffs, the Liberty fell in the first round to the Indiana Fever, two games to one.
Two-time WBCA All-American and 2009 Pac-10 Player of the Year Jayne Appel embarks on her third season with the San Antonio Silver Stars, the team that drafted her fifth overall in 2010. Appel and the Silver Stars open the 2012 campaign Saturday at 5 p.m. PT, visiting fellow Cardinal alumna Kayla Pedersen and the Tulsa Shock.
The 2010 WNBA All-Star has appeared in 59 games over her first two seasons, averaging 3.3 points and 3.6 rebounds a game while shooting an even 50.0 percent from the field. Appel has helped lead the Silver Stars to the playoffs in each of her seasons in the Lone Star State. San Antonio, however, has bowed out of the playoffs in the first round each season, being swept by Phoenix in 2010 and falling in three games to eventual champ Minnesota last year.
Entering their second seasons together in the league, the duet of Kayla Pedersen and Jeanette Pohlen hold the distinction of being Stanford's first multiple No. 1 picks in a single season.
Pedersen, taken seventh overall by the Tulsa Shock, and Pohlen, selected ninth by the Indiana Fever in 2011, experienced both ends of the spectrum in their first WNBA seasons.
Pohlen and the Fever captured the top seed in the Eastern Conference with a 21-13 record, reaching the Eastern Conference Finals before being eliminated in three games by Atlanta. This year, the Fever opens up at home against the Dream Saturday at 1 p.m. PT.
The 2011 Pac-10 Player of the Year and Associated Press All-America First Team selection played all 34 regular-season games, starting two, averaging 4.1 points a game and hitting 46.8 percent of her 3-point attempts.
Pedersen, Stanford's all-time leader in rebounds (1,266), games played (150) and started (150) and minutes played (4,762), as well as a two-time Associated Press All-America honorable mention (2010-11) and four-time All-Pac-10 selection, experienced a tough rookie year in the league in 2011. Her Tulsa Shock team went a league-worst 3-31, as head coach Nolan Richardson was fired during the season and replaced by interim head coach Teresa Edwards.
Pedersen, however, displayed the trademark durability and leadership that Stanford fans know all too well, weathering the changes in Tulsa to average 6.8 points and 3.6 rebounds a game while shooting 40.2 percent from the field. She started 20 of the 33 games in which she appeared and was fifth on the team with 23.8 minutes a game.