April 20, 2006
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Training camps for the 2006 Women's National Basketball Association season open on Monday, April 24, featuring five former UC Santa Barbara players who are vying for roster spots on five different teams.
Erin Buescher (1998-2000) will try to help the Sacramento Monarchs repeat as WNBA champions, while Kristen Mann (2002-05) enters her second year with the Minnesota Lynx on the heels of a busy off-season. Meanwhile Kayte Christensen (1999-2002), April McDivitt (2004) and Lindsay Taylor (2001-04) recently signed free-agent contracts with the Houston Comets, Washington Mystics and Seattle Storm, respectively.
Following a one-year hiatus from the league, Buescher averaged 3.3 points and 1.6 rebounds while shooting a sparking 70.0% (28-of-40) and helping Sacramento win its first WNBA title in 2005. A second round draft pick of the Minnesota Lynx in 2001, she played one season there before spending the next two as a member of the Charlotte Sting. In 98 career WNBA games, the 6'2" guard from Rohnert Park, Calif., is averaging 3.7 points and 2.5 rebounds.
As a Gaucho, Buescher ranks fourth in school history with 1,697 career points, a feat accomplished in only three seasons before transferring to The Master's College for her senior campaign in 2000-01. Her 864 career boards are also fourth-best, while her 18.1 career scoring average is easily a UCSB record. The three-time Big West Conference Player of the Year was also a Third Team Associated Press All-American in 1999-00.
Christensen appeared in 103 career games with the Phoenix Mercury from 2002-05 before being released midway through last season. In 2003 she enjoyed her finest campaign, averaging 6.9 points and 4.2 rebounds while starting 16 contests; for her career the 6'3" forward from Alturas, Calif., has posted 3.8 points and 2.9 boards per tilt. After playing with professional teams in Turkey and South Korea this off-season, Christensen was added to the Comets' roster on March 23.
Christensen capped her UCSB career as the Big West Player of the Year and an honorable mention Kodak All-American in 2001-02. Her 54.9% career field goal percentage is second-best in school history, while she also ranks ninth in rebounds with 807. She averaged 11.9 points and 7.3 boards as a Gaucho from 1999-2002 before being chosen by Phoenix in the third round of the 2002 Draft.
In April of 2005 the Lynx selected Mann 11th overall in the WNBA Draft, highest-ever for a former Santa Barbara player. The native of Santa Ana, Calif., averaged 3.0 points and 1.5 rebounds during her first season in Minnesota, scoring a career-high 11 points against Phoenix on Aug. 21. Following her inaugural season in the league, Mann played briefly with a professional team in Zaragoza, Spain, embarked on a three-game tour of Europe with the U.S. Senior National Team and completed her Bachelor's degree in women's studies at UCSB.
As a Gaucho senior in 2004-05 Mann enjoyed one of the best seasons in school history earning Big West Player of the Year recognition and honorable mention All-American acclaim after averaging 19.5 points and 9.5 rebounds, both placing among the top-30 players nationally. The 6'2" forward ranks third all-time at UCSB with 1,700 career points and seventh with 820 boards as a Gaucho, while her career scoring average of 14.9 is second-best.
McDivitt - currently a Gaucho assistant coach - signed a free-agent contract on March 30 with the Mystics, her third WNBA club in as many seasons. The 5'7" point guard played in one preseason game with the New York Liberty in 2004, and two exhibition contests with the Minnesota Lynx before suffering a shoulder injury. In her lone season at UCSB after transferring from Tennessee, McDivitt was named honorable mention All-Big West in 2003-04 and helped the Gauchos advance to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the first time in program history.
Originally a second-round choice of the Houston Comets in 2004, Taylor was traded to the Phoenix Mercury on draft day and appeared in five games that year with her hometown team before being released during the 2005 preseason. This past off-season the Chandler, Ariz., native averaged 16.5 points per game for Botasspor of the Turkish First Division, helping her land a free-agent contract with the Seattle Storm on April 13.
Taylor is Santa Barbara's all-time leading scorer, shot blocker and most accurate shooter, amassing 1,767 points, 243 stuffs and a 55.9% field goal percentage as a Gaucho from 2001-04. She was a four-time All-Big West selection, highlighted by player of the year honors as a junior when she was also an honorable mention Associated Press All-American. Taylor averaged 14.0 points and 7.0 rebounds during her UCSB career.
In addition to the aforementioned players, former Gauchos Erin Alexander (1994-97), Stacy Clinesmith (1997-2000) and Erika Kienast (1989-92) enjoyed careers in the WNBA as well.
Following a busy off-season, former Gaucho Kristen Mann enters her second year as a member of the Minnesota Lynx. (Photo courtesy of the WNBA)