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Thursday, August 21, 2003
Second-year player having big-time season

By Travis Haney
ESPN The Magazine

Considering her dad stood 6-foot-11, it's no surprise that Tamika Catchings grew up in her father's shadow.

"Growing up, all I heard was 'That's Harvey Catchings daughter,'" Tamika says. "The older you get, the more experience you get, you kind of move from that umbrella and start developing."

My, how Harvey's daughter has developed.

At the WNBA All-Star break, Tamika (6-0, 166 pounds) was third in the league in scoring (19.4 ppg), sixth in rebounds (8.3 rpg) and third in steals (1.9 spg) for the Indiana Fever. With that impact, it's no surprise that, in two years, Catchings has:

  • Started in two All Star games

  • Won Rookie of the Year honors in 2002 (when she led all first year players in points, rebounds, steals and blocks)

  • Is on track to be named to her second straight All-WNBA first team.

    Tamika is already what her dad never was: a franchise player. Harvey was an NBA journeyman, playing 11 seasons with four teams (Bucks, Sixers, Nets and Clippers) after being selected in the third round of the 1974 draft.

    Tamika will likely finish this season halfway to her father's career point total of 2,335. But his career in the NBA provided her a bar to strive for.

    Says Tauja Catchings, Tamika's older sister: "To have someone in the family to look up to, to compare herself to, and try and move beyond, I think that pushed her even more."

    Tamika also had to push to recover from a torn ACL suffered midway through her season at Tennessee, following a junior season where she was the 2000 Naismith Player of the Year.

    The concern among WNBA teams going into the 2001 draft was how long it would take for Catchings to recover from the injury. But the Fever thought enough about Tamika's game to select her third in the 2001 draft. After sitting out that first season, Tamika came back in 2002 and helped the Fever to its first ever playoff berth.

    After growing up as the biggest fan of her father, now the role has been reversed. Harvey often seen on the sidelines of Fever games cheering his daughter on.

    "With the kind of range and the kind fo determination that she has, it's just scary," Harvey says. "All I can say to the rest of the league is: Watch out."