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Unrau must play waiting game

Missouri senior could be taken in the second or third round of the WNBA Draft.
Friday, April 16, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:53 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 6, 2008

Evan Unrau might not know where she will be in a month, but she is certain she will be near a telephone and in front of a computer Saturday afternoon.

Unrau hopes to be one of 39 players selected in the WNBA Draft, which begins at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Last month, Unrau became the first Missouri player to be named to the All-Big 12 Conference first team in consecutive seasons and she is one of 62 draft prospects listed on the WNBA’s Web site.

The first round of the draft will be televised on ESPN, but Unrau is not a projected first-round pick and said she said she doesn’t know what to expect this weekend.

“It is probably a completely different situation for some other players, but from my standpoint I can’t really control anything, so I’ve got to just wait and see,” Unrau said. “It would definitely be nice to see my name with a team but if it doesn’t happen there are always other opportunities.”

Despite Unrau’s uncertainty about her draft status, there is a realistic chance she will be picked in one of the three rounds. Unrau was one of 28 college seniors invited to the WNBA’s pre-draft camp in Tarrytown, N.Y., last week where she played in front of the coaches and general managers of the 13 WNBA teams.

In her four years at Missouri, Unrau developed into one of the most versatile players in the country and was consistently one of the Tigers’ leading scorers and rebounders. Last season, she led the Tigers with 17 points per game and led the Big 12 with 8.9 rebounds per game while guiding Missouri to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in three years.

Unrau said she is accustomed to having time away from basketball after the college season, but this year she never stopped her daily workouts after Missouri’s 68-44 loss to Stanford in the first-round of the NCAA Tournament.

“It’s really different because in past years when the season ended I try to separate myself from basketball because it consumes you so much throughout the entire year and I just need a break,” Unrau said. “This year it’s been hard because I’ve had to stay in shape and go shoot and stay motivated. It’s weird because my body is not used to being motivated this time of the year.”

If Unrau is drafted, her extended basketball season will become longer. Draftees will report to their team’s training camps as early as April 26 with hopes of earning a spot on a team’s final 11-player roster when the WNBA regular season begins June 1.

Unrau could also become the third Missouri player drafted into the WNBA in the league’s seven-year history. In 2001 Amanda Lassiter and Marlena Williams, Unrau’s teammates during the 2000-01 season, became the first two Missouri players picked in the WNBA Draft.

Lassiter was the Houston Comets’ first round pick. The Seattle Storm traded her to the Minnesota Lynx on Thursday. Williams was the Indiana Fever’s third-round pick and she no longer plays in the WNBA.

Although Unrau knows she has no control over what team drafts her, she said she wouldn’t mind playing with Lassiter and her young Seattle teammates.

“I’d like to be on a team where there are some younger players because I think it is kind of hard to be a young player and go to a team with a bunch of veterans,” Unrau said.

“I think Amanda Lassiter is lucky in Seattle because they are a really young team and they have a lot of good chemistry so someplace like that would be fun.”

Unrau said if the WNBA doesn’t work out she is interested in playing in Europe. She hopes to graduate either this summer or next fall, but that depends on what transpires during the next few weeks.

“It’s kind of hard right now because everyone wants to know what I am going to do now with basketball and everything,” Unrau said.


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