April 15, 2004
DURHAM, N.C. - Duke University seniors Alana Beard and Iciss Tillis are preparing for the 2004 WNBA Draft on Saturday at 12:00 p.m. on ESPN in Secaucus, N.J. at the NBA Entertainment Studios. Both Blue Devils will travel to Secaucus, N.J. on Friday in preparation for the draft and are expected to be taken in the top 12 picks on Saturday.
The first round draft order is- 1. Phoenix, 2. Washington, 3. Charlotte, 4. Connecticut, 5. New York, 6. Minnesota, 7. Minnesota, 8. Phoenix, 9. Indiana, 10. Sacramento, 11. Detroit, 12. Los Angeles and 13. Detroit.
Beard, the consensus National Player of the Year, led the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) in scoring (19.7) and finished the season with averages of 5.4 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 2.4 steals and 1.4 blocks a contest, while leading Duke to a 30-4 record and a Mideast Region Final appearance. The Blue Devils were ranked No. 1 in the final Associated Press poll for the first time in school history and finished her career with eight ACC Championships- four tournament and four regular season titles.
"It doesn't really matter to me which team I get drafted by," said Beard. "I am just grateful to be able to play in the league. I feel like I can go in and probably fit in anywhere. I am just there to do whatever the team needs me to do and whatever they ask of me."
She was named Wooden Award, Associated Press, State Farm Wade Trophy, USBWA and ESPN.com National Player of the Year for her efforts. Beard, a 5-11 native of Shreveport, La., was also named winner of the Bayer Advantage Senior Class Award and Kodak All-America for the third straight year.
For her career, Beard compiled 2,687 points, 789 rebounds, 509 assists, 404 steals and 149 blocks. She became the first player in NCAA men's or women's history to register over 2,500 points and 400 assists and will leave Duke as the all-time leading scorer for men and women. She led the Blue Devils to two NCAA Final Four appearances and became only the second woman to be named Associated Press first team All-America on three occasions.
Tillis, a product of Tulsa, Okla., is one of the most versatile players in the draft as the 6-5 forward can play any position on the court. A three-time first team All-ACC and 2003 Kodak All-America, Tillis averaged 12.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks in 2003-04. In the ACC statistics, she ranked 10th in scoring (12.5), fifth in rebounding (6.7), first in free throw percentage (86.5), eighth in steals (1.78) and fifth in blocked shots (1.34).
For the second straight year, Tillis stepped up her game in the ACC Tournament as she earned MVP accolades, after averaging 18.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks. Tillis finished her career with 1,712 points, 946 rebounds, 301 assists, 270 steals, 151 blocks and 25 double-doubles.
"I am really nervous about the draft," said Tillis. "I really don't have any idea where I will be picked and that is nerve-racking. I am glad the draft is early so we don't have to wait all day for it to happen. To be drafted has been a goal of mine since the league began. I have developed a lot over the last four years and I look forward to the next stage of my basketball career."
Duke has had three players drafted by the WNBA over the last five years- Michele VanGorp (18th overall by the New York Liberty in 1999), Peppi Browne (43rd overall by the Charlotte Sting in 2000) and Georgia Schweitzer (21st overall by the Miami Sol in 2001).
The 2004 draft will have three rounds and 38 total picks. The WNBA preseason will begin on May 4 and the regular season will kick off on May 20.