Arizona Daily Wildcat Online
Front Page
· Basketball
· Columnists
Live Culture
Police Beat
Photo Spreads
Special Sections
The Wildcat
Letter to the Editor
Wildcat staff
Job Openings
Advertising Info
Student Media
Arizona Student Media info
UATV - student TV
KAMP - student radio
The Desert Yearbook
Daily Wildcat staff alumni

Commentary: A surprise: Someone's going for the draft

Christopher Wuensch
Arizona Daily Wildcat
By Christopher Wuensch
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 1, 2004
Print this

In what promises to be a season of mass defections, the exodus has begun in Tucson - and with it, history has been made.

It's not Channing Frye. It's not Andre Iguodala. It's not even Salim Stoudamire leaving the Old Pueblo.

So who could it be? Someone so unbelievably mind boggling you wouldn't believe it if she told you herself.

Time out. Did you say she? Herself?

That's right, history has been made right here in the backyard of McKale Center. Women's basketball sensation Shawntinice Polk has declared herself eligible for the 2004 WNBA draft.

In doing so, Polk becomes the first woman ever to leave college early to join the ranks of the women's professional basketball league.

That spells bad news for an Arizona women's basketball program that once considered itself to be on the rise - and good news for the franchises of Phoenix, Washington, Charlotte and Connecticut, the respective teams holding the first four picks in this year's April 17 draft.

The news gripped the Old Pueblo late last night when the sophomore declared her intentions at a McKale Center press conference after signing with agent Brian Penso, an Arizona alum.

Early expert projections have Polk following somewhere behind UConn's Diana Taurasi and Duke's Alana Beard as the league's top picks.

According to women's college basketball insiders, the Wildcat center with the infectious smile should go fourth to the Connecticut Sun, who received the pick in a trade with the San Antonio Silver Stars for Shannon Johnson on Jan. 28.

Connecticut, a No. 3 seed in last year's WNBA playoffs, finished 18-16 and was swept in the second round by the league's eventual champions, the Bill Laimbeer-coached Detroit Shock.

Polk would become just the second woman from Arizona to make it to the WNBA, following in the giant footsteps of 1998 graduate Adia Barnes, who averaged 5.5 points per game for the Seattle Storm last season.

Standing at 6-foot-5, Polk would provide Mike Thibault's squad with the dominating force below the basket that the Sun was sorely lacking last season.

Left behind in her wake is a team reeling from her exodus. No. 00 leaves behind a Wildcat squad with just that: double-zero rebounders next season. Polk provided Arizona with a team-leading 10.3 rebounds per game and was one of three Wildcats scoring over 10 points per game in 2003-2004.

Now that Polk (16.6 ppg) and senior guard Aimee Grzyb (10.9 ppg) have left, the onus for scoring rests entirely on the 5-foot-6 shoulders of leading scorer Dee-Dee Wheeler.

Wheeler poured in a team high 16.9 points per contest for the 24-9, Wildcats in 2003-04.

Teammates of Polk gathered in the back of the McKale Center's press conference room last night to witness the defection of their star. Some sat stone-faced as if in shock. For the rest, their emotions proved too powerful to overcome. Their fearless leader was exiting court left.

Wheeler and Grzyb added a spark to the resurgent Wildcats this season, but Polk is Arizona women's basketball. A former Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, Polk has proven invaluable to coach Joan Bonvicini's squad.

Women's basketball is, in fact, on the rise. So much so that the NCAA women's championship game in April of 2002 - in which UConn dropped the Sooners of Oklahoma - was the most-watched college basketball game in the history of ESPN. That's more than 25 years of broadcasting.

Still need more proof that women's hoops is accelerating in our modern culture?

Candace Parker has fans of perennial powerhouse Tennessee women's basketball salivating for things to come in the Volunteer State. On Tuesday, the Vols' signee became the first women's McDonald's high school All-American to win - get this - the men's slam dunk contest!! Whatever they put in the water at Naperville (Ill.) Central High, please send it down to Tucson and Polk, who will need the hops to compete with the "big girls" next year.

Sadly, this tale has a twisted ending.

If you believe any of this story about Polk, even for a minute, I have real estate I'm selling on "A" Mountain. Real cheap. Although stats, names and teams are accurate in this story, Polk in fact is not leaving Arizona and Penso, for all we know, is an alumnus. The Parker bit is true; she's a better jumper than you and me combined, and could probably make Hassan Adams blush.

Happy April Fools' Day.

Christopher Wuensch is a journalism senior. He can be reached at

Write a Letter to the Editor
Raising the bar
Athlete Of The Week: What can Brown do for you?
Commentary: A surprise: Someone's going for the draft
Women's Hoops Notes: UA coach pleased with Stanford's tourney run
Staff picks
Housing Guide
University of Arizona Visitor's Guide
Restaurant and Bar guide
Search for:
advanced search Archives

Webmaster -
© Copyright 2003 - The Arizona Daily Wildcat - Arizona Student Media