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Sparks Invest Top Pick in Big Scorer

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In the WNBA draft Wednesday, the Los Angeles Sparks chose a player from Merrill Lynch & Co., Allison Feaster.

And Spark Coach Julie Rousseau figures Wall Street’s loss is the Sparks’ gain. The club made Feaster, the nation’s leading scorer at Harvard, their first choice and the fifth overall pick in the draft.

Feaster, a 5-foot-11 standout who averaged 28.5 points last season and led Harvard to the startling upset of Stanford in the NCAA tournament, can play nearly anywhere, Rousseau said.

“I’d call her a cerebral player,” she said.

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“She can play in the post if we need her there and she can play on the perimeter too. We can play her anywhere we need her.”

As expected, the top pick was 7-2 Margo Dydek of Poland, by Utah. Sacramento chose point guard Ticha Penicheiro of Old Dominion next, Washington chose Murriel Page of Florida third and Detroit took Korie Hlede of Duquesne fourth.

Feaster will receive a degree in economics June 4. She said she had accepted a job offer from Merrill Lynch as an equities analyst before knowing she’d be a first-round pro pick.

“It wasn’t a hard decision to turn down [Merrill Lynch], I’m now a full-time pro basketball player,” she said.

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“I’m very excited about coming to Southern California. I’ve already met the [Sparks’] staff and it won’t be hard to play hard for them. All I can say is: ‘A championship in ’98.’ ”

The Sparks’ second pick (15th overall) was Octavia Blue of Miami, a 6-1 forward who shot 45% on three-point shots last season and averaged 19.2 points and 5.7 rebounds.

The team’s third choice was 5-10 Rehema Stephens, a 1992 UCLA graduate who started 32 games with the ABL’s Richmond Rage in 1996-97, then played in Greece last season. Los Angeles’ fourth and final pick was 6-0 Erica Kienast, a 1992 UC Santa Barbara graduate.

WNBA Notes

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For the Record: Cindy Blodgett of Maine, the sixth pick by Cleveland, led the NCAA in scoring in her sophomore and junior seasons. The time reference was incorrect in Wednesday’s editions. . . .

Other Pacific 10 Conference players picked: Olympia Scott (Stanford) by Utah; Tanja Kostic (Oregon State) by Cleveland; Adia Barnes (Arizona) by Sacramento; Vanessa Nygaard (Stanford) by New York, and Monica Lamb-Lattin (USC) by Houston. . . .

The ABL draft is May 5. . . .

Spark General Manager Rhonda Windham, summing up the Los Angeles picks: “All four players were there for us in the rounds we wanted to take them in. We were looking for players to fill voids where we needed help and I feel we did that.” Said Coach Julie Rousseau: “We have Pam McGee now [via trade with Sacramento] in the low post with Lisa [Leslie], and we needed three-point shooting. Allison and Octavia give us that. We don’t want teams collapsing on us down low.”

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