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Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, May 11, 2000

W. N. B. A. _ H A W A I I

pair back from
WNBA camp

Cockett on Sparks'
reserve list, Itoman urged
to try overseas

By Al Chase


Nani Cockett and BJ Itoman were very happy to get back to Hawaii to recuperate from the grueling two-day tryout camp run by Los Angles Sparks first-year head coach Michael Cooper.

They didn't pick up a basketball for a week, but the former University of Hawaii Wahine standouts were pleased with the results of the camp.

Neither was included on the Sparks' 18-player preseason roster. However, Cockett performed well enough to be placed on the six-player reserve list, meaning the Sparks could call her at anytime to join the team.

"It lets her know they are interested, so be ready and willing to go at any time," said Erica McKeon, the agent for both players. "They gave Nani a serious look and she impressed Michael Cooper. They wanted to bring her in."

But in the end, the Sparks decided to wait and see how a returning veteran performed.

The Sparks don't own the rights to Cockett and she hasn't signed a WNBA contract. This keeps the possibility open for her to end up with another team.

"BJ had an awesome camp and she was close to making it (the reserve list)," Cockett said.

More important for Itoman, the results rekindled her interest in continuing in the game at the professional level. Prior to the camp, she expressed the thought that maybe it was time to explore other things in her life.

"The coach talked to me after the camp and said there were people overseas asking about me," Itoman said. "Hopefully something will come out of it. If something comes up, I'll definitely be going."

Penny Toler, Sparks general manager, spoke to McKeon about Itoman and said, "That girl can really play the point and is really smart. Right now we have to go 'big' with our point guard and she doesn't do any one thing exceptionally well to overcome the height factor."

"If BJ goes overseas and shows she can make it professionally, that will answer a lot of questions," McKeon said.

The tryout camp was held April 29-30 at Loyola Marymount University. There were two 2-hour sessions daily.

"Michael told us this was not going to be an easy camp,'' Cockett said. "He said he was going to break us down and see who is mentally and physically in shape. He wanted to see who could hack it.

"It was very hard, the hardest tryout camp I've ever attended. I'm glad I survived and actually got chosen. I could hardly walk straight after the two days and I'm still a little sore."

"I was pretty sore. It's been nice to relax for a couple of days," Itoman said. "I wanted to do it for myself. I wanted to see if I could compete with them.

"I got to play my game and show them what I had and not worry about the outcome."

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