The Utah Jazz covet height. That's why they drafted Mark Eaton and Greg Ostertag and took chances on Walter Palmer, Brett Vroman, Danny Schayes, Luther Wright, et al.
With an internationally experienced 7-foot-2 player who can run, catch and shoot available to them, do you think the Utah Starzz - part of the Jazz organization - will want anyone else with their first pick in Wednesday morning's four-round WNBA Draft?The Starzz have the WNBA's No. 1 pick, thanks to a 7-21 record in their first year, so they can have any one of the 90-some players that the league has signed to contracts that make them draft-able. The Starzz pick first in each round - Nos. 1, 11, 21 and 31.
Starzz coach Denise Taylor and vice president for basketball operations Scott Layden say they still want to wait because a few top players aren't yet signed. The signing deadline, according to a WNBA official, is "sometime Tuesday." But the best of the unsigned, as of Monday night, is a point guard (Old Dominion's Ticha Penicheiro), and the draft is deep in point guards. Two others yet to be signed are hurt and likely unable to play this season while the Starzz need immediate help.
Poland's 7-2, 24-year-old Malgorzata Dydek - nicknamed "Mega" by a fan - is the WNBA's most talked-about player since her showing at the Chicago WNBA pre-draft camp two weeks ago. She is reportedly the world's third-tallest woman, tallest in Europe. Her 6-7 older sister played in the American Basketball League last year. She has a younger sister who's also growing tall. Taylor compares her body type to that of Elena Bara-nova.
While not committing to picking Dydek on Wednesday, Taylor is clearly impressed. "She can run the floor, catch the ball, and she can shoot," Taylor says. "Just her size brings a presence, even if she doesn't score a lot of points."
Dydek averaged 24.3 points, 6.6 rebounds with Pool Getafe, a Spanish-champion team that was European silver medalist. She has also played for European champion Olympic Poznan of Poland in 1994 and French pro champion Valenciennes Orchies in 1995-96.
"Her defensive presence would be an impact for any team," Taylor says.
With Dydek, the Starzz could make Wendy Palmer's post-ups easier with fewer double-teams, and they could move 6-5 Baranova to small forward, where she might be more comfortable and improve Utah's dismal outside shooting.
Layden calls Utah's No. 1 pick "a moving target" because players are still signing. "We're really wide open," he says.
"Last year," says Taylor, "they signed Tina Thompson the night before the draft at 11:59, and Houston (WNBA champ) picked her first, so we're just leaving all our options open. It's a good problem."