Zellous taken in first round by Detroit
Shavonte Zellous is going to Motown.
The Pitt senior guard was drafted 11th overall by the Detroit Shock in the WNBA draft Thursday, making her the first Pitt player ever taken by the pro league. She joins a loaded team that won its third championship in 2008 and has a good chance of capturing its fourth this year.
Zellous, a 5-foot-10 guard, leaves Pitt as the third-leading scorer in program history with 2,251 points and the top single-season scorer ever with 747 points. She is also the only player in Pitt history — men or women — and just the fourth player in Big East women’s history to score 600-plus points in three separate seasons. She was the sixth-leading scorer in the nation in 2008-09, averaging 22.4 points per game.
Two other panthers players — Marcedes Walker and Laine Selwyn — played with WNBA teams, but both got their shot via free-agent tryouts.
Zellous, who became Pitt’s first All-American when she was named to the Associated Press’ Third Team, was one of 15 top prospects invited to attend the draft in Secaucus, N.J.
“(I feel) overwhelming joy for Shavonte because of everything she’s done to get where she is right now,” Pitt coach Agnus Berenato said. “She’s worked so hard, and to get drafted in the first round is unbelievable. And it’s another first for Pitt. To have someone drafted in the first round; we’ve never had anyone in the draft. I can’t tell you how proud I am.”
Zellous did not return several calls seeking comment.
Competition for WNBA jobs is expected to be tight this year, with rosters dropping from 13 to 11 players and one fewer team with the loss of the Houston Comets.
But while the Shock returns nine players from last year’s championship team, they have only two guards, 2008 No. 4 pick Alexis Hornbuckle and Ashley Shields. Elaine Powell is an unrestricted free agent. Deanna Nolan, who led the team in scoring last year with 17.6 points per game, is listed as a guard/forward.
Nolan happens to be one of the players after whom Zellous patterns her game.
Going into the draft, coach Bill Laimbeer told the Detroit Free Press, “Two things that would be working in favor of the player is we need a guard or a small forward to make the team, and the second is we need the small contract.”
Berenato called Laimbeer a very good, very disciplined coach.
“It’s just such an unbelievable situation, going into a team that knows how to win, she’s a winner, and now she gets to play on a team with great players who can carry the load while she finds her way,” Berenato said. “For her first job it’s just a great position to be in and a great move.”
The Shock’s season begins on May 30 against San Antonio in Traverse City, Mich.
Karen Price is a former freelancer.