Guessing Game Begins
Who will the Fever take in Monday’s WNBA Draft? That is the biggest question in Fever-land as the league’s 17th annual draft approaches. For Indiana, preparing for its 14th draft and its 14th season, it has the unique position of drafting this year just six months after winning the league title and with virtually its entire roster intact from its championship.
So, the question remains, where to improve? What are the Fever’s needs? Are there any, in particular? And who among the top prospects will be available to the Fever with the No. 9 selection?
What I can tell you is that for as many so-called experts there may be, there is almost an equal number of opinions. And unique to this 2013 draft is that there are three Indiana players among the top 12 prospects who have been invited to the Bristol, Conn. studios where the draft event will take place. For the first time, the draft will take place for prime-time viewing, being aired on ESPN2 when the first round begins at 8:00 p.m. ET, Monday evening.
There are three Hoosiers among the top prospects – Skylar Diggins of Notre Dame, Kelly Faris of Connecticut and Alex Bentley out of Penn State. All three participated in the IHSAA State Finals in 2009 at Lucas Oil Stadium – Diggins for South Bend Washington, Faris with Heritage Christian and Bentley playing for Ben Davis. Diggins is widely regarded to go among Monday’s top three picks, either to Chicago at No. 2 or Tulsa at No. 3. Baylor’s Britney Griner and Delaware’s Elena Delle-Donne are the other members of the “Super 3″ who are virtually unanimous as the draft’s top three selections.
After the No. 3 pick, though, it’s anyone’s guess who goes where. Beginning with the Washington Mystics at No. 4, there is a huge array of guesses as to which direction the draft will go. I surveyed 14 different mock drafts prior to this weekend and all 14 have Bentley or Faris going in the first round. Faris was a first-rounder in 10 of 14 mock drafts, going as high as No. 5 to the New York Liberty. Bentley was a first-round pick in half of them, going as high as No. 7 to the Atlanta Dream. Three mock drafts had all three Indiana players being chosen in the first round.
But who will Indiana pick?
Again using the 14 mock drafts as a guide, there were 17 different players chosen among the nine selections between the No. 4 and No. 12 positions. Nine different players were chosen by the Fever in these mock drafts, if that gives you any indication that it’s anybody’s guess!
The most commonly selected player for Indiana was Syracuse center Kayla Alexander (6-4) who averaged 17.9 points and 8.4 rebounds while leading the Orange to a third-place finish in the Big East. Second among Fever selections was Faris, twice tabbed to be chosen by Indiana. Faris (5-11) is regarded as a tough-minded defensive player who does all the little things and who might reflect the workmanlike effort demanded by Lin Dunn. She averaged 10.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.5 steals per game for the national champion Connecticut Huskies.
Other mock draft selections for the Fever include Lindsey Moore, a 5-9 guard from Nebraska; Tianna Hawkins, a 6-3 power forward from Maryland; Tayler Hill, a 5-10 wing player out of Ohio State; Markel Walker, a 6-1 combo guard from UCLA; Sugar Rodgers, a 5-11 guard from Georgetown who was fourth in the nation with 22.9 points per game; A’dia Mathies, a 5-9 point guard from Kentucky; and Layshia Clarendon, an explosive 5-9 combo guard from California.
Three other players that I like all played against one another in the former Big XII Conference and were chosen in mock drafts anywhere from No. 4 to somewhere in the second round. Oklahoma State power forward Toni Young (6-2) averaged 15.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Baylor forward Destiny Williams (6-1) averaged 8.5 points and 6.7 boards per game while playing beside Griner. Texas A&M center Kelsey Bone (6-4) helped the Aggies to the SEC Tournament title while averaging 16.6 points and 9.3 rebounds. Her entrance into the draft is unique because she becomes the second player (joining Candace Parker) ever to enter the WNBA Draft with a year of remaining eligibility. After a transfer from South Carolina, she has met draft requirements by completing four years of college, with her anticipated degree this May.
Bentley, too, could be an interesting addition to the Indiana roster, adding a young player with shooting and point guard capabilities to an already pretty deep backcourt. Ironically, she spent a part of the 2012 summer as a Fever intern, assisting the Indiana video staff while earning academic credit for her schooling at Penn State.
Fever President and GM Kelly Krauskopf was interviewed about the draft for FeverBasketball.com earlier this week and cited the “best available athlete” as the Fever’s pick with the ninth selection. With as much uncertainty as there will be following the first three picks, it’s a very logical position for the Fever to take. Team needs will invariably determine each team’s first-round selection on Monday night, but determining who may be available by the ninth pick is next to impossible.
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