Long Beach Poly alum and Louisville senior Arica Carter made history last week as she was selected 32nd overall in the WNBA Draft, taken in the third round by the Phoenix Mercury.
Carter is the first Long Beach product to be selected in the NBA Draft, and will be the first Jackrabbit to play in the league if she can make the roster. Millikan’s Courtney Clements went undrafted but would sign with the Atlanta Dream, where she won a WNBA title at the start of her three-year career in the league. Poly’s Monique Oliver got a training camp deal with the Dream but didn’t make the final roster.
For Carter, it was an emotional, memorable evening–even if she missed the moment her name was announced.
“I didn’t know if I was going to be drafted or not,” said Carter, who’s been a four-year standout at Louisville but has also battled injuries. “I didn’t want to worry about it so I went to eat with a couple of friends and I was just watching it on my phone. My app actually froze on a commercial so I didn’t even see it. I got a phone call a few minutes later and someone told me I was drafted. I said, ‘Stop playing with me.’ We went and looked and saw it said Phoenix and we just started going crazy.”
A few minutes later Carter was on the phone with her new team, making plans to fulfill a lifelong dream of making it to the WNBA. She’ll travel to Phoenix at the end of the month to start working with the team’s trainers, making sure she’s healthy for when training camp starts the first week of May. In the WNBA, being drafted is no guarantee of making the team, and Carter is eager to make sure she does.
“I always dreamed about this growing up,” said Carter. “I love basketball, I love competing. The WNBA is full of great players–just getting the chance to be there I’m so excited and so grateful.”
Carter was surprised to hear that no other Poly player had been selected in the draft, given the program’s long, storied history under Carl and Lakeisha Buggs.
“It means a lot to make history at Poly, and it just goes to show what coach Buggs and Ms. Buggs are doing,” she said. “They did a lot to prepare me for Louisville and this chance to be drafted. When I came to college my coaches were surprised about my work ethic and the things I already knew about my game–that’s all I knew coming from Poly. There’s a lot of great players out of Poly and Long Beach and hopefully this can be the start of something new.”