Texas Exes Carey and Brown at WNBA training camp opening weekend
AUSTIN, Texas -- In collegiate sports, the month of April signals the end of the regular season competition for most spring sports as teams gear up for conference post-season action and national championship runs. However, in the WNBA, the women's basketball pro league is just beginning its season each April with training camp.
This weekend, the WNBA training camps are opening up around the country, and the rosters include two former Texas backcourt greats - All-America 5-6 point guard Jamie Carey (2003-05) and All-America shooting guard and 2000 Wade Trophy National Player of the Year Edwina Brown. In February, Carey re-signed for a second year with the highly-successful Connecticut Sun franchise under the direction of head coach Mike Thibault. The Sun posted the league's best record last summer (26-8) and advanced to last year's WNBA finals where they lost to the Sacramento Monarchs.
On March 27, the NY Liberty signed the 5-9 Brown to a training camp contract. Brown has been starring overseas the past two years after rehabilitating from an Achilles tear that cut short her hoops career nearly two years ago. Brown's WNBA career began promisingly when she was the No. 3 pick overall (taken by the Detroit Shock) of the 2000 WNBA Draft. Brown finished in three-way tie for second in 2000 WNBA Rookie-of-the-Year Voting behind Minnesota's Betty Lennox, as the Texas Ex played in all 32 games, averaging 6.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 26.3 minutes per game.
She played for three years in Detroit (2000-2002) before being traded to the Phoenix Mercury in 2003, where, prior to training camp, she blew out her Achilles.
WNBA teams may carry up to 18 players on their roster for the first 10 days of training camp before reducing their rosters to 15 players for the remainder of camp. Team rosters must to be pared to 15 by May 2nd. The final roster cut-down date for the regular season 11-player active playing list is May 22, with teams also being able to place two on the Injured List.
Carey currently is in training camp at the Mohegan Sun casino with the Sun, the two-time defending Eastern Conference champions. Last year, Carey played a key backup role for the Sun as they made a big run to the WNBA finals. Drafted by the Phoenix Mercury in the third round of the 2005 draft, the 5-6 rookie was cut and later signed with the Sun. Battling injuries, she played in 15 game in a backup point guard role. Carey saw significant time during the playoffs, playing in six of the Sun's eight playoff games while averaging 11.8 minutes per game while dishing out seven assists.
This past winter, Carey continued to work on her master's degree in sport management at UT while playing for the Colorado Chill of the National Women's Basketball League. Carey prepped for the upcoming WNBA season by helping the Chill to a 16-4 mark and to the NWBL championship in March. She averaged 13.1 points, 2.7 rebounds and 34 minutes per game while hitting 43 percent of her 3-pointers (44-102).
Both Carey and Brown are veterans in battling through adversity and injuries, and that toughness will serve them well during training camp.
Right now, Carey and Brown are immersed with hundreds of other WNBA hopefuls in conditioning drills, strength training and scrimmages around the 14-team league. It will only be three short weeks of camp and drills before everyone knows their fate as the 2006 WNBA season gets set to unfold in mid-May.
Two other former Longhorns who were on 2005 WNBA rosters have retired from the league. On February 28th, former UT All-America guard Edna Campbell, who played for Jody Conradt from 1989-91, announced her retirement. Campbell last played with the San Antonio Silver Stars. Another former Silver Star, Tai Dillard '03, did not return to the team this year after playing three seasons (2003-05) for her hometown Silver Stars. Dillard currently is focusing on her high school teaching and coaching career in San Antonio.
The 5-9 Dillard played three years for the Silver Stars (2003-05) after signing a free agent contract after her senior year at UT where she serving as co-captain and led the 30-5 Longhorns to the 2003 NCAA Final Four semifinals. While in the WNBA, Dillard played in 57 games, scoring 87 points while averaging 7.4 minutes per contest.
Campbell playing for four WNBA teams, including Phoenix (1999), Seattle (2000), Sacramento (2001-04) and San Antonio (2005). In 2002, Campbell became the first active player to be diagnosed with breast cancer. After missing the first 31 games of the 2002 season battling the disease, she made a remarkable return to the court in the final game of the season. During the 2003 season Campbell started in all 34 games for Sacramento and received the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award. The seven-year WNBA veteran played in 161 career games, averaging 7.1 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 21.3 minutes per game. She leaves the game ranked 12th on the WNBA's all-time list in three-point shooting percentage connecting on 38.8 percent (161-416) of her shots from beyond the arc. Her remarkable career included playing for U.S.A. Basketball, a three-year stint in the American Basketball League (ABL) and a number of years playing professionally in Europe. Campbell helped Team USA win the gold medal at the World Championships in 1998 and was an alternate for the 1996 Olympic Team.