Charles was one and only choice

UConn coach Geno Auriemma (right) listens to two of his seniors, Kalana Greene (left) and Tina Charles, who were drafted by WNBA teams on Thursday. Charles was selected No. 1 overall by the Sun while Green went to the New York Liberty with the first pick of the second round.
UConn coach Geno Auriemma (right) listens to two of his seniors, Kalana Greene (left) and Tina Charles, who were drafted by WNBA teams on Thursday. Charles was selected No. 1 overall by the Sun while Green went to the New York Liberty with the first pick of the second round.

Mohegan - Tina Charles said she never thought about being selected No. 1 by the Connecticut Sun at Thursday's WNBA draft until it was officially announced.

"Yeah, right," said Kalana Greene, Charles' UConn teammate. "When you play like Tina has played the last couple of years, you know that there's no one above you coming out of the draft ... especially with Connecticut needing players like her."

Said Charles: "I don't really like to listen to what people say. I just need to know the truth from the actual source."

Charles' source came in the form of over 500 Sun fans who had gathered for the draft at Margaritaville. The crowd loudly announced the Sun's pick to a nationally-televised audience.

"Yeah, I guess you guys (the media) were actually right," Charles said. "I'm definitely excited. My heart was beating out of my chest.

"It was definitely emotional for my mom (Angella Holgate). I remember her taking a deep breath in, and my dad (Rawiston Charles) was really happy. And coach (Geno Auriemma) was there for me like he always is.

"It was incredible."

Greene was taken by the New York Liberty with the first pick of the second round (13th overall).

Charles, a 6-foot-4 center, was one reason why the Sun traded All-Star guard Lindsay Whalen and the second overall pick in the draft to the Minnesota Lynx for the No. 1 pick. The other was to acquire guard Renee Montgomery, Charles' former UConn teammate.

Charles averaged 18.2 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks this year and helped the Huskies finish unbeaten and win the national championship for the second straight year.

"(She's) a true center, which are hard to find in our league," said Kara Lawson, an ESPN basketball analyst — and Sun guard. "Sometimes it's hard to find post players that enjoy being in the paint that love to bang. They all sometimes want to step outside and shoot and want to do all those things. Not that Tina can't do that, but she loves to be in the paint.

"She loves the physical play. She loves blocking shots. She runs the court great. Sets great screens. She's going to be a huge impact player for us in the inside because she gives us a scoring threat on the block."

Charles is excited about being reunited with Montgomery, who was the fourth overall pick in 2009.

"It's definitely going to be a lot of fun," Charles said.

"Renee and I always have fun on and off the court. I know I'm going to learn more things from her. She's part of the reason I grew as a player at Connecticut."

Greene, a 5-10 guard, averaged 11.4 points this season. She'll be seeing a lot of Connecticut this summer because the Liberty and Sun play each other five times.

"I think it's going to be like old practices at UConn or pickup games," Green said about playing against Charles and Montgomery. "Hopefully I can go up there and get a couple of bragging rights against them and give Connecticut a couple of losses."

n.griffen@theday.com

READER COMMENTS

Loading comments...
Hide Comments