WNBA Bio: Chamique Holdsclaw

By the time Chamique Holdsclaw graduated from high school, she was already an unparalleled New York hoops legend who led the perennially powerful Christ the King Regional High School to four consecutive New York State Championships. By the time Holdsclaw would raduate from the University of Tennessee in 1999, she had helped to lead the Lady Vols to three consecutive NCAA Women’s Basketball Championships in her first three season – and almost a fourth as a senior.

At Tennessee, Holdsclaw became the school’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder among both the men’s and women’s programs with 3,025 points and 1,295 rebounds. She was also only the fifth women’s basketball player in NCAA history to reach 3,000 career points. In 1998, Holdsclaw received the James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States.

In the 1999 WNBA Draft, Holdsclaw was selected by the Washington Mystics with the first overall selection. In her first season, she was named the Rookie of the Year and was a starter in the inaugural WNBA All-Star Game. She averaged 16.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game in her first season. The next year, Holdsclaw was named to the Olympic team, helping to lead the U.S. Women’s team to a gold medal in 2000.

During her subsequent seasons in the WNBA, Holdsclaw continued to improve her numbers. In 2002, despite missing several games with an ankle injury, Holdsclaw averaged a double-double per game with 19.9 points and 11.5 rebounds. By 2003, she was averaging 20.5 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. On July 24, 2004, however, she failed to show up for a game against Charlotte, played one more game in reserve and then didn’t play the rest of the season including the entire playoffs.

At first, Holdsclaw refused to discuss the reason for her absence, other than to rule out cancer, pregnancy and drug addiction, but following the season, she told The Washington Post that she was suffering from clinical depression and that she had been ashamed to discuss it with the public.

On March 21, 2005, Holdsclaw was traded to the Los Angeles Sparks in exchange for Delisha Milton-Jones. On May 19, 2006. ESPN.com reported that Holdsclaw left the Sparks. No reasons for her departure were given, and no timetable was available as to her return. Holdsclaw sports career averages of 17.9 points per game and 8.6 rebounds.

Although Holdsclaw is not the player who was once predicted to become “the greatest feamle basketball player of all-time,” she is an absolutely fine basketball player who deserves the benefit of the doubt and time to recover from whatever illness she is currently battling and I, for one, am hoping that, not only does she make a confident return to the WNBA, but more importantly, a full return to whatever Holdsclaw considers perfect health for herself – both physically and mentally.

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