Following a season that saw San Antonio finish with the second worst record in the league, the Silver Stars selected Baylor All-American Sophia Young with the fourth pick in the 2006 WNBA Draft. Her selection, coupled with later trades for Becky Hammon and others, helped usher in the most successful era in franchise history.
San Antonio nearly doubled its win total in Young’s rookie campaign, as she averaged 12.0 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, and was named to the WNBA All-Rookie Team.
The following season, saw Young improve her scoring average to 16.8 points per game, and earn her first All-Star nod. The Stars tied the franchise record for wins in a season with 20, and made their first postseason appearance since 2002.
San Antonio would go on to make the playoffs for six straight years, peaking in 2008 when the Stars won a league-best 24 games, along with the Western Conference Championship, before falling to the Detroit Shock in the finals. Young earned First-Team All-WNBA honors during that championship season, after averaging 17.5 points per game.
In 2009, Young averaged a career-high 18.2 points per game and was named to her third All-Star Team.
She retired following the 2015 season with career averages of 14.3 points and 6.0 rebounds. Young still ranks first in franchise history in points (4,500), rebounds (1,807), steals (477), games played (301) and games started (282).
In the second round, with the 16th overall pick, San Antonio selected Tennessee guard Shanna Zolman. Zolman would prove to be a key reserve for the Stars during her three seasons with the team.
As a rookie she averaged 6.6 points per game while connecting on 37.8 percent of her shots from long range. Zolman upped those numbers in 2007 to 9.2 points per game and 40.9 percent shooting from three-point range.
WNBA fans may remember Zolman best from a controversial ending to Game One of the 2007 Western Conference Finals.
From wikipedia—“After Becky Hammon hit a three-point shot to tie the game with approximately three seconds left in regulation, Phoenix attempted to drive for a final basket. Phoenix guard Cappie Pondexter fell to the floor in the backcourt under defensive pressure from Zolman. Zolman was called for a reach-in foul with 2.1 seconds remaining, and in turn Pondexter made two free throws and Phoenix won the game, 102–100.
“ESPN announcers and many fans questioned the call, because video footage arguably indicated that Pondexter had merely slipped and Zolman had committed no foul. Additionally, the replay also showed that Shanna’s jab step toward Pondexter is what caused Cappie to falter, and since there wasn’t any contact made, the correct call should have been a traveling violation on Phoenix; in effect, a great defensive play by Shanna Zolman.
“Mercury fans, however, felt the call was appropriate. While most objective fans consider it to be one of the worst calls in WNBA history.
“The head official reviewed the call to determine how much time remained on the clock, but WNBA rules do not permit instant replay review of whether a foul was committed. At the post game press conference, Hammon stated that Zolman did nothing wrong and that the officials made a mistake.
“Lost in all this, is that Zolman came within an eyelash of sinking a 75-foot shot at the buzzer to make the issue moot. But, it bounced off the rim.
“Determined to make good, Shanna came out of the gate sizzling hot in Game 2, scoring 17 first half points including 5 three pointers. She finished the game with 20 points, including 6 three pointers, as the Silver Stars were defeated 98–92.”
Knee injuries plagued Zolman over the next few years as she missed the entire 2008 season with a torn ACL in her left knee. She returned to the Stars in 2009 and averaged 5.0 points per game over 19 contests.
San Antonio traded Zolman to Tulsa in 2010, where she averaged a career-high 9.7 points, and started 13 games for the Shock. She suffered another torn ACL in the offseason while playing in Turkey, and never played in a WNBA regular season game again.
In the third round of the draft, San Antonio took DePaul forward Khara Smith. The AP All-American didn’t sign for the 2006 season, instead sitting out the year to recover from a number of nagging injuries that plagued her during her senior season She signed with San Antonio prior to the 2007 and 2008 campaigns, but in each instance was waived before the start of the regular season.