April 9, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Notre Dame senior guard Charel Allen (Monessen, Pa./Monessen) was selected in the third round of Wednesday's Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) Draft, going with the 43rd overall pick to the Sacramento Monarchs. Allen becomes the seventh Notre Dame women's basketball player in the past eight years to be chosen in the WNBA Draft, and the first since Megan Duffy went in the third round of the 2006 draft to the Minnesota Lynx.
A two-time honorable mention All-American (earning that status from the Associated Press this past season), Allen recently completed a storied career that places her among the greats in the 31-year history of Irish women's basketball. The 5-11 wing also was a midseason candidate for this year's John R. Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy, as well as a preseason choice for the State Farm/WBCA Wade Trophy -- all three honors go to the country's top women's college basketball player. What's more, Allen was a two-time first-team all-BIG EAST Conference selection, one of only six players in program history to pull off that feat.
This season, she was named to the Preseason Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) All-Tournament Team and was a two-time BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll choice, giving her six of the latter citations in her career. Allen started all 34 games for the Irish (and all 66 games in her final two seasons), ranking 11th in the BIG EAST in scoring (15.1 ppg), fourth in free throw percentage (.815) and 13th in steals (1.85 spg). She also had two double-doubles and scored in double figures 30 times (including 21 of her final 22 games), highlighted by four 20-point outings and a career-high 35 points in the second round of the NCAA tournament against No. 14/13 Oklahoma (a game the Irish won 79-75 in overtime).
Allen departs as the first women's basketball player in school history to record 1,500 points (1,566), 500 rebounds (656), 200 assists (239) and 200 steals (206) in her career. She also ranks eighth all-time at Notre Dame with 1,566 points, one of 10 categories where she appears in the top 10 in the program's career record books, in addition to countless appearances on the Irish single-game, single-season, and NCAA tournament charts.
Allen joins Duffy (who signed a training camp contract with the WNBA's New York Liberty earlier this year after a two-year stint in Minnesota) and Ruth Riley (San Antonio Silver Stars) as former Notre Dame women's basketball players currently on WNBA rosters. Riley has won two WNBA titles during her seven-year career (2003 and 2006 in Detroit) and was the Most Outstanding Player of the 2003 WNBA Finals, becoming the first player ever to be named the finals MOP at both the college and professional levels (she earned the collegiate honor in 2001 while leading Notre Dame to its first national championship). Riley also is one of three Irish players who have won WNBA titles -- Jacqueline Batteast (2006 Detroit) and Coquese Washington (2000 Houston) also have earned championship rings.
Riley was the first-round selection (fifth overall) by the now-defunct Miami Sol in 2001, starting the active string of Irish players selected in the WNBA Draft. Also in 2001, current Irish assistant coach Niele Ivey was a second-round choice (19th overall) by the Indiana Fever, while Kelley Siemon was taken in the third round (48th overall) by the Los Angeles Sparks. A year later, Ericka Haney was a third-round selection (47th overall) by the Detroit Shock. In 2005, Batteast was drafted in the second round (17th overall) by the Minnesota Lynx, and the following year, the Lynx chosen Duffy in the third round (31st overall).
Allen was one of four players selected by Sacramento in Wednesday's WNBA Draft. The Monarchs also picked up Maryland center Laura Harper, Texas A&M point guard A'Quoneshia Franklin and UTEP center Izabela Piekarska, the latter two also being taken in the third round along with Allen. In addition, Allen was one of seven BIG EAST Conference players chosen in this year's WNBA Draft, representing five different schools (Connecticut, DePaul, Notre Dame, Rutgers and West Virginia). Ironically, the pick Sacramento used to take Allen on Wednesday was a supplemental choice granted to the Monarchs after their third-round pick in 2007 was voided (Sacramento had inadvertently chosen another BIG EAST player -- WVU's Meg Bulger -- who still had one year of eligibility remaining).
The Irish (25-9), who were ranked 15th in the final AP poll and 13th in the season-ending ESPN/USA Today coaches poll (the latter was released Wednesday) capped off an outstanding 2007-08 season with the program's seventh NCAA Sweet 16 (regional semifinals) appearance in the past 12 years and the sixth 25-win season in that span. Along the way, the Irish knocked off three ranked opponents (giving them 45 wins over Top 25 opponents in the past decade) and finished fourth in the high-powered BIG EAST with an 11-5 record. Notre Dame also gave eventual national champion Tennessee all it could handle in the NCAA Oklahoma City Regional semifinals on March 30, leading the Lady Vols at halftime (33-31) for the first time in the 20-game series with UT and trailing by only eight points twice in the final 90 seconds before finally falling by a 74-64 score.