Iowa History Daily: On May 7, 1969, Denise Long of Whitten, Iowa, became the first woman drafted into the NBA when the San Francisco Warriors selected the basketball standout in the 13th round of the draft. Long caught the attention of basketball fans everywhere when she averaged an astounding 69.6 per game as a senior at Union-Whitten High School in 1969.
Growing up in the small Hardin County town of Whitten (population 200), Long developed a love for basketball at an early age. Just one of 34 students at Union-Whitten in her graduating class, the nearly 6’ tall Long excelled on the hardwood scoring at least 100 points on three different occasions during her high school career. Known for her outside shooting prowess, Long netted 6,250 points in her career despite the three-point line still a thing of the future.
During Long’s junior year in 1968, the star hooper poured in 64 points in the state championship with an estimated 3.5 million viewers watching the six-on-six basketball game on television. As she averaged nearly 70 points a game the following year, Long mulled her post-high school options. With Title IX still three years away and women’s college basketball still in its infancy, the prospects of a future on the hardwood seemed slim.
Then, the Warriors selected Long in the 13th round as a part of a plan to form the “Warrior Girls Basketball League” with the Union-Whitten standout as the star performer. The four-team league played prior to Warriors’ home games, and Long signed a contract which provided her with tuition at the University of San Francisco, $5,000 in expense money, and purple Jaguar. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar