The list of players -- selected by a panel of national media, coaches, former players and WNBA personnel -- includes seven of the league's original players and represents the very best in women's professional basketball. Former Lady Vols Chamique Holdsclaw and Tamika Catchings are among the nominees.
Holdsclaw was league's number one pick overall when selected by the Washington Mystics in 1999. She entered the WNBA after authoring one of the best collegiate careers in history and immediately earned Rookie of the Year honors. One of only three players selected to every WNBA All-Star Game, Holdsclaw has twice been the league?s leading vote-getter at All-Star time. Holdsclaw is a three-time All-WNBA Second Team member, and going into the 2006 season she ranks among the WNBA?s top 10 in three categories, standing third in points per game (18.1) and in field goals made (1,352) and fourth in rebounds per game (8.6). Holdsclaw put together six outstanding seasons in Washington before being dealt to the Los Angeles Sparks in 2005 in one of the biggest trades in WNBA history. She went on to finish that season ranked third in the league in scoring (17.0 ppg), sixth in double-doubles (7) and eighth in rebounding (6.8).
As a player at Rocky Top, Holdsclaw won both the Naismith (1998, 1999) and Sullivan (1999) awards as the national player of the year, led the Lady Volunteers to three NCAA titles and earned Most Outstanding Player honors in the 1997 and 1998 Final Four. At the time of her graduation, Holdsclaw is Tennessee's all-time leading scorer and rebounder with 3,025 points and 1,295 rebounds and became the fifth woman in NCAA history to reach 3,000 points. The Astoria, N.Y., native is one of only a very few women to have a Nike shoe, the "BBMiqueShox," named after her.
A First Team All-WNBA choice in her first two campaigns, a Second Team selection the next two years and a perennial All-Star, Catchings enters 2006 ranked among the league?s all-time leaders in steals (2nd), scoring (4th) and rebounding (6th) per game. In 2005, Catchings was named the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year and played in her third All-Star game after receiving the most votes among Eastern Conference players for the second time. She also led the league in steals, ranked third in defensive rebounds and eighth in scoring, and for the third time in four seasons, she finished among the top three vote-getters for the league's MVP award. The third pick in the 2001 draft, Catchings sat out that season with a knee injury but came back to be the 2002 Rookie of the Year after ranking second in the league in scoring and leading the Indiana Fever to its first playoff berth.
Catchings, the daughter of former NBA player Harvey Catchings, was a member of an NCAA championship team. A national collegiate Player of the Year at Tennessee, she helped the 2004 U.S. team win Olympic gold. Born with a hearing impairment, Catchings received the Reynolds Society Achievement Award in 2000, an honor presented annually to an individual who has overcome hearing, vision or speech loss and inspired others. A true role model, she is active with the WNBA "Read to Achieve" campaign, conducts numerous basketball clinics and has formed the "Catch the Stars Foundation, Inc." to provide academic and sports-related programs for at-risk youth. In January 2006, she was a finalist for the Wooden Citizenship Cup, a national award presented to the top college and professional athlete who exhibits outstanding community service.
Voting for the WNBA All-Decade Team will begin this Friday, and will be conducted among fans, select national and WNBA-market media, and current WNBA players and coaches. Fans are encouraged to vote by logging onto WNBA.com. The All-Decade Team will be announced in June and honored at the 2006 WNBA All-Star Game set to take place at Madison Square Garden in New York on July 12.
The league's official Web site will feature a special section dedicated to the All-Decade Team, complete with player histories, statistics and video highlights of each nominee. The new WNBA.com History section, in which the voting will take place, may also serve as a resource for fans and media alike, providing career statistical leaders, award winners, season recaps and more. Fans will be able to vote for their All-Decade Team players once per day (daily).
"We view the celebration of our 10th anniversary as a way to mark the accomplishments of our past and embrace our vision for the future," said WNBA President Donna Orender. "The selection of the WNBA All-Decade Team will enable our fans and the league to honor the players who have contributed so much to the growth of the WNBA and of women's basketball."
Members of the All-Decade team will be selected on the basis of their overall contribution to the WNBA, with consideration given to on-court performance and ability, leadership, sportsmanship and community service, as well as contribution to team success and the growth of women's basketball.
In addition to selecting an All-Decade Team, the WNBA will celebrate its 10th Anniversary season by providing fans an opportunity to determine the Greatest Moments in league history and through a season-long initiative, "10 Years of Caring," where all teams will demonstrate their continued commitment to their communities.