MERIDEN — For about the past year, the proper nouns “Damika Martinez” and “WNBA” have often been bandied about in the same sentence.
Now the talk can get more serious.
On Friday, the graduating Iona College star from Meriden received an invitation to the WNBA Combine, which is being held April 4 in Tampa, Fla.
The WNBA Combine is much like the NFL version: a pre-draft event that gives prospective pros a chance to show their stuff in front of league teams and their scouts. It is a by-invitation event only.
The combine down in Tampa comes two weeks before the 2015 WNBA Draft, which is Thursday, April 16 at Mohegan Sun.
Should her name be called by one of the league’s 12 teams that night, Martinez will join friend and fellow Meriden native John Jenkins in the ranks of professional sports. Jenkins, a nose tackle out of the University of Georgia, just put in his second season with the New Orleans Saints.
Martinez has built her pro prospects with a staggering resume at Iona. The guard’s 2,581 career points were not only the most all-time at Iona, they broke the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference women’s record as well.
Martinez also signed off by being named the MAAC Women’s Player of the Year for a third straight season. She was the conference’s Rookie of the Year in her freshman season out of Platt, where she signed off as Meriden’s leading schoolgirl scorer of all-time with 1,857 points.
All that escaped Martinez in college was a championship. She wanted badly to win the MAAC Tournament and earn the NCAA Division I bid that comes with it. Instead, in her last go-around, Iona fell in the quarterfinals to Siena and Quinnipiac later dethroned Marist in the championship game.
Perhaps that long-awaited championship will come at the next level.
Martinez, third in the nation in Division I scoring this year at 24.2 points a game, is a finalist for both the Nancy Lieberman Award and the Dawn Staley Award.
The winners will be announced at the Final Four.