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W. Basketball #ProHogs

The Razorbacks have contributed to the WNBA ranks with four players who have made the rosters. A fifth was invited to try out but did not make the opening day roster. A sixth player, C’eira Ricketts, was the 24th overall pick in the 2012 draft but did not make the roster.

Ricketts went on to play oversees for the Flying Foxes in Austria. Teammates Lyndsay Harris and Ashley Daniels also went oversees in 2012-13. Harris plays in Spain and Daniels in Portugal.

The most notable player is Shameka Christon. Christon is the most successful Arkansas women’s basketball player in the WNBA.

The former SEC Player of the Year and SEC Legend remains the highest drafted women’s basketball player in Arkansas history when she was taken fifth overall in the first round by the New York Liberty.

Playing in 33 of 34 regular-season games as a contributor from the bench, Christon helped the Liberty to a second-place finish in the Eastern Division in 2004 and was selected to the All-Star team in 2009 when she led the Liberty with 16.1 ppg and 31.7 minutes-per-game.

Christon was traded to the Chicago Sky for the 2010 season averaging 8.5 ppg and 2.4 rpg and apg.

In the past seasons, Arkansas has sent 12 of its star players into the professional ranks, with four of the most notable standouts helping their teams reach the WNBA playoffs during their rookie seasons.
Lauren Ervin joined her team in 2009. The Connecticut Sun drafted Ervin in the third round of the 2008 WNBA Draft even though the double-double post threat could not play the 2008 season due to a college career ending ACL injury.
Wendi Willits came home in 2001 with a World Championship ring as a member of the Los Angeles Sparks. Willits became the second Razorback to make a WNBA regular-season roster. Signed by the Sparks as a free agent, Willits survived the preseason games and graduation to make the opening day roster for L.A.

It was ironic that Willits’ Sparks knocked off her former Arkansas’ teammate’s old WNBA team.

In 1998, Christy Smith became the first Razorback women’s basketball player to go to the WNBA. She was the only WNBA player to go from the 1998 Women’s Final Four to the 1998 WNBA Playoffs.

Her pro career in 1998 resembled her college days at Arkansas. Drafted 17th overall as the second-round pick of the Sting, Smith started the first 13 games of the WNBA season. Her rookie season looked promising until a broken right pinkie sidelined her for six games. She came back to start the season finale for the Sting and played in the Stings’ playoff series with eventual WNBA champion Houston.

In 2002, there were four former Arkansas players in WNBA camps. Joining Willits were three free agents, Amy Wright with the Detroit Shock and Karyn Karlin and Shaka Massey with the Miami Sol.

After the 2003 season, Dana Cherry joined Arkansas’ WNBA draft list. While union negotiations prevented a draft camp, Cherry impressed the scouts during her senior season to become the 23rd player taken in the 2003 draft, selected by the Charlotte Sting.

Cherry’s teammate India Lewis took her three-point shooting skills to The Netherlands to play for BV Lavy in Amsterdam in 2003 and 2004. Brittney Vaughn earned a spot on the Minnesota Lynx training camp roster and played in exhibition contests in 2008.

Arkansas isn’t limited to the WNBA. Karyn Karlin had the chance to play with three pro teams in the year prior to her 2002 training camp appearance with the Sol — the Finnish league before being picked up by Calais in the French league then on to the Birmingham Power of the National Women’s Basketball League.

Celia Anderson signed to play with the Alexander the Great team based in Thessaloniki. Despite being the shortest American post in the league, Anderson led the Greek pro circuit in rebounding during the 2002 season. She has returned to Arkansas to pursue a master’s degree.

Another member of the Final Four team, Treva Christensen saw action in the Finnish league in 2002 for the Insolo team.

Former Kodak All-American Delmonica DeHorney played for Japan Air Lines for a season after she led the Razorbacks to the NCAA West Regional Finals in 1990 and the Sweet 16 in 1991. DeHorney also played pro ball briefly in France.

Smith was the second Razorback to participate in the WNBA predraft camp. Her former teammate, Kimberly Wilson, worked out during the first-ever predraft camp in 1997. Smith also holds the distinction of being the second Lady’Back drafted by an American pro league. Cheryl Orcholski was drafted by the Columbus Minks of the old Women’s Basketball Association.

ANOTHER CONNECTION
In 2009, the WNBA announced that the Detroit team would relocated to Tulsa, Okla., and shortly after, the league announced former Razorback men’s head coach Nolan Richardson would be the team’s first head coach.

Richardson and the Tulsa Shock played to a 6-28 inaugural season record. Richardson also added former Razorback men’s assistant coach Wayne Stehlik to the bench as an assistant.

#ProHogs

Celia Anderson
Alexander the Great (Greece), 2001

Lonniya Bragg
Atlanta Flame (WBCBL), 2006 [MVP, 2006]
Sundsvall Saints (Sweden), 2008

Dana Cherry
Charlotte Sting (WNBA) [23rd pick overall; 2nd rd, 2003 draft]

Treva Christensen
Insolo (Finland), 2002

Shameka Christon-Retired
Phoenix Mercury (2015-16)
San Antonio Stars (2012-2015)
Chicago Sky (2010-11)
New York Liberty (WNBA), 2004-2009
(5th pick overall; 1st round, 2004 draft, WNBA All-Star Team, 2009)
Rivas Futura (Spain) 2006
Elizur Ramla (Israel D. I), 2004-05
Hondarribia-Irun (Spain), 2008
Orenburg (Russia), 2009

Delmonica DeHorney
Japan Air Lines, 1991

Lauren Ervin
Connecticut Sun (WNBA), 2008-09
(37th pick overall, 3rd round, 2008 draft)
Sundsvall Saints (Sweden) 2009
Phoenix Mercury
Faenza (Italy), 2010-11
Washington Mystics
Ceyhan Bid (Turkey)
Leonas De Ponce (Puerto Rico)

Lyndsay Harris
Hondarribia (Hondarribia, Spain), 2013

Whitney Jones
Volsun KP Brno (ZBL); Gesam Gas Le Mura Lucca (Italy); Bursa BSB (Turkey); Evo New Basket Oberhausen (Germany)

Karyn Karlin
Birmingham Power (ABL), 2002
Miami Sol (WNBA), 2002 camp
BC Nokia (Finland), 2001
Calais (France), 2001

India Lewis
BL Levy (Holland), 2004

Shaka Massey
Charlotte Sting (WNBA), 2000
(59th pick overall; 4th round, 2000 draft)

Cheryl Orcholski
Columbus Minks (WBA), 1984 [40th pick of 1984 draft]

Keira Peak
PeKa (Finland), 2014

C’eira Ricketts
Phoenix Mercury (WNBA), 2012
(24th pick overall; 2nd round, 2012 draft)

Christy Smith
Charlotte Sting (WNBA), 1998 & 1999
(17th pick overall; 2nd round, 1998 draft)

Brittney Vaughn
Minnesota Lynx (WNBA), 2008
Visby (Sweden), 2008-09

Rochelle Vaughn
Dallas Lady Diesel (WBCBL), 2006
Russia, 2008-09

Wendi Willits
Los Angeles Sparks (WNBA), 2001 [Free agent]

Amy Wright
Detroit Shock (WNBA), 2002 camp