Updated: Aug 29, 2019
What Hall of Fame, professional athlete was first drafted as the tenth overall pick sixteen years after graduating from college?
Lynette Woodard - Kansas Women's Basketball 12.5.15
In 1997, sixteen years after graduating from the University of Kansas, and despite her advanced age of 38 years, Lynette Woodard was selected as the tenth overall pick in the WNBA's elite draft.
In 1997, the Women's National Basketball Association was created. In order to give new teams reasonable talent, the league decided to have two drafts. There was the normal collegiate draft that most professional sports leagues hold, and the league also decided to conduct an elite draft. This second draft allowed teams to pick players that had already graduated from college and had gone on to play professionally on other American teams or on teams overseas.
In her first season in the WNBA, Woodard played for the Cleveland Rockers. The following year, she was selected in an expansion draft by the Detroit Shock. During the WNBA's off-season, she began working as a stockbroker in New York City, and after the 1998-1999 WNBA Season, Woodard retired from professional basketball at the age of 40.
Lynette Woodward Digital Museum
Woodard's love for the game developed early in her childhood in Witchita, Kansas. It began with playing "sock ball" with her brother and then progressed to the playground across the street where she practiced constantly and played when her brother and his buddies would let her. She soon cultivated basketball skills which provided her with access to the blacktopped courts and beyond. Woodward won two state basketball titles, and then starred for the University of Kansas where she earned All-American honors in each of her four years.
During her college career, she averaged 26 points per game and scored a total of 3,649 points. She is not only K.U.'s all-time leading scorer among both men and women, eclipsing such Jayhawk luminaries as Danny Manning and Wilt Chamberlain, she is women's, college basketball's all-time leading scorer. As a matter of fact, among all college players, including both men and women, she is college basketball's second all-time leading scorer trailing the legendary "Pistol Pete" Maravich by just 18 points.
After graduating from Kansas in 1981, Woodard played for UFO Schio (Vicenza) in the Italian women's professional basketball league from 1981-1983. In 1984, she returned to the U.S. to captain the U.S. Women's Olympic Basketball Team at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles, leading the team to Olympic Gold. In 1985 she was chosen from ten female applicants as the first woman to play for the Harlem Globe Trotters, and she toured with the team for the next two years before returning to her Italian team. After leading the league in scoring in 1989 and helping UFo Schio win the championship, she decided to take her basketball skills to Japan where she played for the Daina Securities Team from 1990 to 1993, winning a championship in 1992. After the 1993 season in Japan, Woodard thought she had retired from the game, but she when the WNBA came knocking in 1997, she was unable to resist the opportunity to play professional women's basketball in her own country.
In 2004, she was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, and in 2005, she was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tennessee. Woodard also received the 2015 WBCBL Women’s Professional Basketball "Trailblazer" Award on August 2, 2015 along with 9 other female basketball Icons including Cynthia Cooper, Nancy Lieberman, Sarah Campbell, E.C. Hill, Dr. Geri Kay Hart, Robelyn Garcia, Kandi Conda, Lisa Leslie and Tamika Catchings. The award recognizes some of the most influential people in professional women's basketball, specifically those who helped blaze the trail, shape the overall landscape and pave the way for women's professional basketball. Unfortunately there is not much footage available of Lynette Woodard's impressive basketball career. At the top of there is a short video featuring some of the highlights from her college and professional careers. The video in the middle of the page provides a larger variety of still photos spanning her entire career, and the video below allows the viewer to enjoy Lynette Woodard telling her won story in an extended interview in 2017.
Lynette Woodard - 60 Days of Summer 2017 interview