This is our WNBA game: Carey, Schreiber chosen in 2005 WNBA Draft
AUSTIN, Texas -- As the WNBA gets ready to roll out its new slogan - "This Is Our Game 2005" - you can add two more Texas Longhorn names to the professional women's basketball ranks - two current UT seniors who hope that 2005 will feature "their game" in the USA pro league.
On Saturday, April 16, Texas basketball standouts Jamie Carey (Thornton, Colo.) and Heather Schreiber (Windthorst, Texas) were both chosen in the third round of the 2005 WNBA Draft, which was conducted at the NBA Entertainment Studios in Secaucus, New Jersey.
Carey, the 5-6 All-Big 12 guard who was a National Player of the Year candidate the last two years, was selected 31st overall (the fifth pick in the third round) by the Phoenix Mercury. All-Big 12 frontcourt standout Schreiber, who also was up for National Player of the Year honors the last two seasons, was chosen as the 39th pick overall (13th and final pick of the third round).
Carey (12.2 ppg, 2.5 assists per game, team-high 70 3-pointers made) and Schreiber (10.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 43 3-pointers) helped led Jody Conradt's Longhorns to a 22-9 mark this year. UT finished second in the Big 12 race to eventual NCAA champions Baylor, and advanced to the 2005 NCAA Championship second round. The Longhorns were ranked No. 11 in the final Associated Press Top 25 Poll.
Carey and Schreiber continued the proud history of Texas basketball players turning professional, as they become the seventh and eighth Longhorn players for head coach Jody Conradt to be selected in the WNBA Draft. Carey is the third Longhorn in history chosen by the Phoenix franchise in the draft.
A third Longhorn - 6-2 forward Annissa Hastings (San Antonio, Texas) is expected to get a free agent tryout. Several teams contacted Conradt and Hastings over the past few weeks indicating their interest in her.
Following Saturday's announcement, Schreiber met with local reporters at her apartment in Austin, while Carey, in route to traveling back to her homestate of Colorado for speaking engagements, spoke via phone. Both of them had watched the first round of the draft on ESPN2, and then turned their attention to NBATV for the second and third round announcements.
"I'm pretty excited to have the opportunity to play in the WNBA," noted Carey. "To be going to a place like Phoenix is great news - it is a great place, a good city. I'm familiar with Phoenix since I spent a lot of time playing basketball there during the BCI National Championships while I was in high school. At this point in time, it doesn't really matter who drafts you - it's all about teams filling in their roster gaps and needs. So, you go to the team which drafts you and give it your best shot."
Carey also noted, with irony, that her stop-over Saturday afternoon on her flight from Austin to Colorado was - in Phoenix!
"I guess that's a good sign,", she laughed. "I already spoke to my mother who wants me to make sure to go into a sports shop at the airport and buy her a Phoenix Mercury shirt today!"
Carey also was quick to point out how excited she was for her teammate Schreiber to be drafted.
"I was really, really excited when I found out that Heather was picked by LA," said Carey. "She really deserves an opportunity to play at the next level. And, if nothing else, this will give her a chance to go and live in California for a bit, which will be good for her!," Carey concluded, laughing, since she spent three years herself in northern California at Stanford University prior to transferring to UT and is anxious for Schreiber - from the small Texas 1A town of Windthorst - to have an opportunity to experience California.
And Schreiber herself was quick to note that she expected Carey to have success in Phoenix.
"I was really glad to see Jamie's name pop up in the third round," Schreiber noted. "Jamie is the perfect example of a point guard, a leader who understands the game. She knows how to get the ball to her teammates and always finds the right matchups. She'll do a great job in Phoenix."
Schreiber said that she was anxious as the draft entered the third round, and that she did not immediately know that she had been picked.
"I was watching the draft on NBATV, and they cut away to talk to WNBA President (Donna) Orender," Schreiber said. "The next thing I know, they came back to the draft board and I saw the last five drafts picks posted - and there was my name!"
"I'm just really happy to have the opportunity to go to camp and show what I can do," noted Schreiber. "I spoke to (new LA head coach Henry Bibby) Coach Bibby this afternoon on the phone, and after he congratulated me he told me the organization had been watching me play since my freshman year. He is brand-new to the LA Sparks, and he told me that he goes into preseason camp with no pre-conceived ideas."
"Coach Bibby told me to make sure I am in shape, because we will be having two-a-days (two practices per day) for the first week," Schreiber concluded. "I was encouraged when he also said he doesn't play favorites - he only favors those players who work really hard. Since I know that my work ethic is one of my strengths, I felt good about what he told me."
Earlier in the 2005 draft, Phoenix had selected 6-3 forward Sandora Irvin from TCU with the third pick and selected Illinois 6-0 forward Angelina Williams in the second round with the 18th overall pick. The Mercury are coming off a 17-17 mark a year ago with a fifth-place finish in the WNBA's Western Division and feature the play of two 2004 Olympians - USA team member Diana Taurasi and Australian Olympian Penny Taylor.
The Los Angeles Sparks did not have a first-round pick Saturday. With the 26th pick (second round), the Sparks selected 5-6 guard DeeDee Wheeler from the University of Arizona prior to picking Schreiber in the final round. Led by 2004 league MVP Lisa Leslie, Los Angeles went 25-9 last year and won the Western Division before being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
In previous years, these are the following Texas Exes chosen in the draft (note: current San Antonio Silver Stars guard Tai Dillard was not drafted as a senior in 2003, but made the squad as a free agent that summer): 2004 (Stacy Stephens, 3rd round, 37th pick by Houston Comets); 2000 (Edwina Brown, 1st round, 3rd pick overall, Detroit Shock); 1999 (Edna Campbell, 1st round, 3rd pick overall, Phoenix Mercury; Clarissa Davis-Wrightsil, 2nd round, 22nd pick, Phoenix Mercury; Andrea Lloyd-Curry, 3rd round, 31st pick overall, Minnesota Lynx); 1998 (Angela Jackson, 4th round, 33rd pick overall, Washington Mystics).
Schreiber summed up what many of Saturday's draftees might have been feeling when they heard their name called.
"In high school, I thought a little about playing in the WNBA. Then, once I got to UT and had some team and individual successes, that thought became stronger. I knew as I advanced through college that there would be a possibility that I would have a chance to be drafted, even though it is a very competitive thing. So, here I am today! And I am anxious to make the best of it during preseason camp."
Both Schreiber and Carey will travel to Chicago next week for a two-day WNBA orientation session for all draft picks, to be conducted Thursday-Saturday, April 21-23. Following that, Schreiber travels to Los Angeles and Carey to Phoenix to get ready for the next steps in their basketball careers - WNBA camp and preseason games.
Hopefully, these will be the first steps in Schreiber and Carey proudly proclaiming the WNBA's new slogan - "This is Our Game" - in the summer of 2005.