December 17, 2008 – Well the WNBA off-season’s been anything but boring. First news that the Houston Comets were shutting their doors. Now news that legendary player Chamique Holdsclaw is coming back to the league.
A six-time league All-Star and Rookie of the Year in 1999, Holdsclaw shockingly announced her retirement in June of 2007 — just five games into the season despite leading the team with 15.8 points per game — and pursued an overseas hoops career.
With Holdsclaw back, here’s wishing her and Atlanta the best this season.
From a WNBA release:
The Atlanta Dream acquired the rights to forward Chamique Holdsclaw from the Los Angeles Sparks today in exchange for the 13th overall pick (first round) in the 2009 WNBA Draft. Holdsclaw, an eight-year veteran, is returning to the WNBA after a two year hiatus.
“We are very excited to bring one of the best players in Tennessee women’s basketball history to our roster,” said Team President & COO Bill Bolen. “The excitement this will bring to our fans is huge. We think it’s going to make a big impact on the Atlanta community and the entire southeast.”
The first overall draft pick in the 1999 WNBA Draft, Holdsclaw spent the first six years of her career with the Washington Mystics, averaging 19 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. In her first season as a pro, she was named WNBA Rookie of the Year and was a starter in the inaugural WNBA All-Star game. In 2000, Holdsclaw was named to the Olympic team and earned a gold medal in Sydney.
A WNBA All-Decade Team honorable mention, Holdsclaw most recently played for the Los Angeles Sparks, after being acquired in a 2005 trade for DeLisha Milton-Jones. She spent two full seasons in Los Angeles before announcing her retirement in June 2007. At the time, Holdsclaw was averaging 15.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. After her retirement, she continued to pursue her basketball career overseas, most recently in Poland where she is averaging 17.6 points per game for TS Wisla Can-Pack Krakow in Euroleague action.
“Coming back has been something that I have been thinking about for a while,” Holdsclaw said. “The only thing that was holding me back was my body and being healthy. I realized that if I had the chance I would like to play this summer.”
“I’m just happy that Chamique is back in the WNBA,” said Dream General Manager & Head Coach Marynell Meadors. “I just think she really misses the game. I am looking forward to having her. She elevates our team to another level.”
Holdsclaw had a legendary career at the University of Tennessee where she was a four-time Kodak All-American. She finished her collegiate career with 3,025 points and 1,295 rebounds, making her the all-time leading scoring and rebounder in school history (men’s and women’s), the all-time leading scorer and rebounder in SEC women’s history, and the all-time leading scorer and rebounder in the history of the NCAA Women’s Tournament. Holdsclaw won the Naismith player of the year trophy twice (1998 and 1999) and posted a 134-17 win/loss record during her remarkable career as a Lady Vol. In 2000, she was named Naismith’s Player of the Century for the 1990s.
University of Tennessee Head Coach Pat Summitt echoed the sentiments of Meadors. “I’m excited for her [Holdsclaw] and I’m excited for the Atlanta Dream,” she said. “Great players usually make everyone around them better and I see Chamique doing that for Atlanta right away. She will bring a different dimension to the court for her team. She is tremendously skilled, she knows how to win, and she is an exciting competitor.”