Whenever Erica McCall has been awake during the past 15 years or so, it’s a good bet she’s been working toward tonight.
When she’s been asleep, she’s been dreaming of it.
The WNBA Draft is at 4 p.m. tonight in New York, and McCall, who will be in attendance, should hear her name called in the three-round, 36-player draft.
“It seems so super-surreal,” McCall said. “I never thought I’d be in this position, but with God’s grace, it’s happening. I just have to look back on all my hard work and say I deserved this moment. It’s a time to smile.”
The draft’s first round is on ESPN2, with the last two rounds moving to ESPNU.
McCall is one of Kern County’s brightest basketball stars; she was a four-time BVarsity Player of the Year at Ridgeview, the only boy or girl ever to earn the honor all four years. she went on to star at Stanford, where she was the Cardinal’s leading scorer and rebounder this past season.
But that whirlwind collegiate career, which ended just two weeks ago in the Final Four, was only the first half of McCall’s 2017 season.
The second half will begin Friday, after she finds out where her WNBA team will be her new home.
“After the draft, you get a seven-to-10-day period, and then you have a two-week training camp, a week of exhibition games, and then the season (34 games starting May 13),” McCall said.
Several WNBA mock drafts have been published by various websites; in them, McCall goes off the board anywhere from the late first round to the late second round.
McCall said teams have told her she could be a first-round pick. She has received the most interest from the Connecticut Sun, which owns the eighth pick and two of the first four second-round picks; the Dallas Wings, who pick third, fourth and 10th in the first round; and the San Antonio Stars, who have the first and fifth picks.
“I’m expecting the first round; that’s what I’ve been hearing a lot,” McCall said. “But if I go second round or go third round, I’ll be satisfied. Either way the hard work goes into training camp.”
McCall, a 6-foot-3 center, is one of 10 prospects invited to the draft, which is at the theater inside the Samsung 837 building in New York.
She’s hoping to join her older half-sister, Dewanna Bonner, in the WNBA; Bonner plays for the Phoenix Mercury, though she’s on maternity leave (due with twins) this season.
“I haven’t gotten that much interest in Phoenix, because they don’t have a first-round pick,” McCall said. “But that’d absolutely be amazing to play with my sister.”
Only one other Bakersfield product has been a WNBA draft pick: West High’s Nikki Blue, who was drafted in the second round out of UCLA in 2006.
She played five seasons with the Washington Mystics and New York Liberty and is an assistant coach for Cal State Bakersfield’s women’s team — for Erica’s father, Greg.
And so the time has arrived for McCall: a freshman prodigy at Ridgeview the year after Bonner was drafted, a senior leading the Wolf Pack on a historic season, a star at Stanford and, tonight, the beginning of a professional career.
“It’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was a little girl,” she said. “Watching my sister go in the draft made it even more clear to me. For me, (tonight) is all about the experience, just going out there and enjoying what God’s graced me with.”