Country over WNBA career is the 2012 choice for the Tulsa Shock's Liz Cambage. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
As soon as the balls dropped and the Maya Moore sweepstakes were won by Minnesota, Tulsa went to work on who to acquire with the second pick in the WNBA draft. The Shock took their contemplations seriously and made a trip across the pond - not the little pond of the Atlantic, but the BIG one.
A trio from Tulsa made the lengthy trip to watch Liz Cambage in action during her WNBL season. And convince her that not only was playing in the WNBA in her best interests, contrary to what some of the Aussie national coaches had intimated, but that playing in Tulsa would serve her game well.
All the pre-draft mumblings about Cambage not wanting to play in Tulsa were swept by the wayside as the teenager clapped and laughed and said she "already loved everyone" in Tulsa after her name was called. Everyone was focused on whether or not the reports of not wanting to play in Tulsa were true prior to the pick. So when she set the record straight with Frank Della Femina and the WNBA, many thought that the transition for Cambage to the league was going to be smooth - and it very may well be as smooth as silk. But one thing no one thought of (or at least no one named Jessica and writing these words right now) was not the fate of the 2011 season, but rather the 2012 season.
In post-draft interviews Cambage made it clear that her plan is to sit out of the 2012 WNBA season to prepare for the Olympics. "For me, I really need to stay behind and train to make the extra miles to make the Olympic team," Cambage told reporters on her plans beyond her rookie year in Tulsa.
Richardson took time to answer questions from Swish Appeal contributor DishNSwish about the impending absence of the player that is sure to be an immediate impact to the Shock roster in her first season in the WNBA this summer. Richardson sounded unfazed at the news that seemed to take many off-guard.
"I think a lot of the young ladies who play over here are going to stay to work out with their teams," Richardson said. "I think that's something that we have to - we've got to cross that bridge when we get there. At this point, the most important thing is for us to get her on stage and on the team and start working towards this 2011 season."
Cambage is most certainly not the only foreign player who will be vying for gold in the 2012 London games, and not even the sole Aussie in this predicament. Did the youngest player in the league just start a trend? Time will tell if her overseas counterparts start making the same announcements. But she did set a personal precedence of honesty a year early to let not only her employer, but also her country know what to expect in the next 18 months.