It took a little more waiting than expected, but one of the greatest women’s basketball players in Kern County history has her professional home.
Erica McCall, a Ridgeview graduate who played for Stanford, was taken by the Indiana Fever with the 17th pick in the WNBA Draft on Thursday in New York. The Fever didn’t have a first-round pick, so it selected McCall the first time it had the chance.
“I’m super-excited,” she said. “I know Indiana is a great team, and I know they really wanted me. If they could get me in the second round, then they would. I was really excited.
“I’m smiling from ear to ear.”
The Fever spent its first selection on the versatile McCall, who often played on the perimeter during a four-year run at Ridgeview that included three Central Section titles and four BVarsity Player of the Year honors. McCall became more of a post player at Stanford.
McCall, a 6-foot-3 center, was Stanford’s leading scorer and rebounder on a Final Four team as a senior, but she had to wait a while to hear her name called. She was one of 10 players invited to attend the draft at the Samsung 537 building in New York; the other nine were all taken with one of the 12 first-round picks.
“It was tough just being around everyone else taking pictures; it was a little bit like a party, and I was just waiting,” said McCall, who sat with her dad, CSUB women’s coach Greg McCall; high school coach Michael Martin; and friend Chiney Ogwumike, a former Stanford teammate who plays for the Connecticut Sun. “But I knew my opportunity would come. I just had to stay patient.”
ESPN showed a mock draft before the night started that had McCall going to San Antonio with the fifth overall pick. But that didn’t happen, and Connecticut — a team that has regularly contacted her — passed on McCall at No. 8, No. 13 and No. 16.
Add to that a couple of 10-minute breaks, one in between rounds and another for an ESPN interview with top overall pick Kelsey Plum of Washington, and McCall was the last woman sitting for more than half an hour.
“We had an antsy feeling, but we knew it was coming when the cameras starting coming over,” Martin said. “It don’t get no better than this.”
McCall is the second player from Kern County taken in the WNBA Draft after West High product Nikki Blue, who was drafted out of UCLA in 2006. McCall is also the second player from her family selected: Her half-sister, Dewanna Bonner, still plays for Phoenix after the Mercury took her in the 2009 draft.
Bonner’s wife, Candice Dupree, plays for Indiana.
“It’s going to be a family affair,” McCall said. “I think I can fit well in their system. I’m just really excited.”
And waiting a bit longer than anticipated for that opportunity? That was no big deal for McCall, who said she thought about Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was in a similar waiting-by-himself situation at the 2005 NFL Draft before becoming one of the league’s top players.
“It doesn’t matter what draft pick you are as long as you do work and the coaches believe in you,” McCall said. “I wasn’t too worried about it. Once I knew that Indiana took me, everything was great.”