By John Eisel: CNJ sports writer
From the time she started dribbling the basketball, Clovis’ Cisti Greenwalt has always dreamed of playing in a professional basketball league.
“There wasn’t one then, we just assumed there was going to be one,” said Greenwalt, who graduated from Clovis High School and moved on to Texas Tech University.
She didn’t have to dream anymore after she was selected by the Sacramento Monarchs in the third round with the 35th pick on Saturday in the WNBA draft.
“It’s a great opportunity,” said Greenwalt, who helped Clovis win back-to-back state championships in 1999 and 2000 and is the school’s all-time leading scorer. “I’ve been watching (TV coverage) all morning and I didn’t know where I was going to go. It’s an awesome place to go.
“I kind of wanted to stay around Houston and San Antonio, but Sacramento’s a nice town. I guess it really doesn’t matter.”
Sacramento coach John Whisenant said he was surprised Greenwalt dropped into the third round.
“Our need was for guards, but when we got to the third round and Cisti was still there, she was too good of a player not to draft,” said Whisenant, an assistant coach under Norm Ellenberger at the University of New Mexico. “You never know with injuries or trades in professional basketball. You always need good big players.”
Talking with her agent and some coaches at the pre-draft camp this past week in New York, Greenwalt was pretty sure she’d hear her name called sometime.
“They figured I’d get drafted, they just didn’t know where or when it would be,” she said.
Going to Sacramento was a little bit of a surprise for Greenwalt. She said San Antonio seemed the most interested in her services.
Greenwalt said WNBA teams were most attracted by her defensive skills and height. At 6-foot-5, Greenwalt finished her career as the Texas Tech and Big 12 Conference career leader in blocks with 300, including 105 her senior year.
Greenwalt she’s had been thinking about the draft since the start of her senior season and it had only gotten worse since time went on.
“The whole week has been a little nerve racking,” said Greenwalt, who averaged 12.9 points and 8.6 rebounds as a senior.
Sacramento has been a power in the West, having finished a game short of the WNBA Finals three of the last four years. Last year they were 18-16, finishing third in the West.
The Monarchs have been set in the middle for the past few years with four-time all-star Yolanda Griffith, who finished in the top 10 in scoring, rebounds, blocks and steals.
Greenwalt was the last of Sacramento’s four draft picks. Also headed to Sacramento are guards Kristin Haynie of Michigan State (first round, ninth overall), Chelsea Newton of Rutgers (second round, 22nd overall) and Anne O’Neil of Iowa State (third round, 30th overall).
Minnesota’s Janel McCarville was taken by the Charlotte Sting as the number one overall selection in the 2005 draft followed by Mississippi State’s Tan White (Indiana) and TCU’s Sandora Irvin (Phoenix).