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Trojans Drafted 1-2; Sparks Take Wideman

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Trojans went 1-2 in the Women’s National Basketball Assn. draft Monday, setting off some crowing by the USC-dominated Los Angeles Sparks staffers, whose only lament was a farewell wave to another Trojan, Houston-bound Tina Thompson.

The Sparks, with the third pick, took 5-foot-6 Stanford point guard Jamila Wideman. This, after Houston, with the first pick, had taken USC senior Thompson, and Sacramento had taken Pam McGee, an early 1980s USC standout.

With their three remaining picks, Sparks General Manager Rhonda Windham and Coach Linda Sharp drafted:

--Kansas guard Tamecka Dixon;

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--Katrina Colleton, 1993 Maryland forward;

--Travesa Gant, a 1994 Lamar University forward.

Those four join four previously drafted and assigned Sparks players Lisa Leslie, Penny Toler, Zheng Haixia of China, and Daedra Charles.

At a Forum news conference Monday to discuss the draft and introduce Sharp, who coached USC to two 1980s NCAA championships, Sharp said she couldn’t wait for the team’s first practice May 28. Her team opens its 28-game season June 21 at the Forum against the New York Liberty. The Sparks’ roster will be completed after tryouts May 10-11 at Loyola Marymount.

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Sharp, who returns to Los Angeles after eight seasons at Southwest Texas State in San Marcos, Texas, is now working for the point guard on her 1983 national championship team in Windham.

“Rhonda and I spent all weekend predicting how other teams would draft, talking to other teams . . . and every time Rhonda hung up the phone, she’d say, ‘Sparks are going to fly!’ ” Sharp said.

The disappointment at not being able to draft Thompson was tempered with the pick of Wideman, recommended to Sharp by her coach, Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer.

“She’s a true point guard and Tara told us she has great leadership abilities, that her teammates elected her captain her freshman year,” Sharp said.

Sharp said Wideman would also play shooting guard.

The second college senior drafted by the Sparks, Dixon of Kansas, is a 5-9 guard who “has about six gears,” Windham said. She averaged 20.8 points last season.

Colleton, Sharp said, brings a three-point threat to the Sparks, and Gant gives them “a very strong, physical player.”

Gant played two seasons in Greece and Taiwan after leaving Lamar University in 1994. Colleton, who graduated from Maryland in 1993, has played pro ball in Israel.

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While the WNBA was drafting, the rival American Basketball League announced that 6-7 Kara Wolters had signed and would play for Hartford.

Women’s Basketball Notes

Sparks president John Buss said the club had sold 863 $250 season tickets as of Sunday, and that about 400 Laker season-ticket holders had exercised their options to buy Sparks season seats. . . . Buss also said he had called NBA Commissioner David Stern and asked him to sweeten the pot in the losing bidding war the WNBA waged with the ABL over Stanford’s Kate Starbird. “I told him I hated to see us lose on Starbird, but he turned me down, indicating to me the league would stick to its salary schedule,” he said.

The Sparks will have two preseason “scrimmages,” against Cheryl Miller’s Phoenix Mercury WNBA team, at Phoenix on June 13 and at the Forum on June 15. . . . Sharp, who coached the McGee twins at USC, said of Pam McGee, now 34 and taken second Monday by Sacramento: “She’s absolutely amazing. She has two kids, played in Italy this year and when I saw her at the WNBA combine in Orlando last week I told her I never saw her play better than she is right now.” McGee’s sister, Paula, is Pam’s agent, Sharp said.


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