Who Are The Prospects?
We still have one-fourth of the calendar year before the 2013 WNBA Draft takes place on April 15 (televised on ESPN2 during prime time, 8pm ET). But as the college season is winding through conference schedules and teams are positioning for NCAA Tournament consideration, yes, it is time to begin examining who might be the top prospects for the upcoming draft.
There is a consensus that the top three picks should be Brittney Griner (6-8, C, Baylor), Skylar Diggins (5-9, G, Notre Dame) and Elena Delle Donne (F, 6-5, Delaware). At least in the media, there is no debate on that dynamic top threesome. Griner is surely expected to be picked by the Phoenix Mercury as the top pick. The Chicago Sky, with the No. 2 pick, will have to select between a surefire ballhandler whose campus is an hour from Chicago and the dynamic Delle Donne whose skill set at 6-5 rivals Griner and Candace Parker. Left to make the third selection is the Tulsa Shock, surely to nab one of those three.
Beyond those, there is debate whether this draft is really deep with talent. Surely there are three game-changers at the top of the heap, but who can make immediate or even sustained impact in the WNBA beyond them? So, beyond the Big Three of Griner, Diggins and Delle Donne, here’s an alphabetical sampling of some top prospects.
Kayla Alexander (6-4, C, Syracuse) – The Syracuse program is not usually a part of the conversation among the top echelon of women’s teams. But at 16-2, they’re currently second in the Big East behind the play of Alexander who averages 18.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and a 54 percent shooting clip. A preliminary mock draft has Alexander going No. 9 to the Fever.
Alex Bentley – (5-7, G, Penn State) – One of two Indianapolis products likely to be drafted, Bentley actually interned with the Indiana Fever last summer. Now a draft-eligible senior, she leads the Big Ten-leading Nittany Lions with 3.9 assists per game. She averages 12.9 points but shoots less than 20 percent from 3-point range. She plays for former Fever star Coquese Washington and was slotted to be picked No. 12 by Minnesota according to DraftSite.com.
Carolyn Davis (6-3, F, Kansas) – The Kansas men’s team has frequently had multiple first-round draft picks, but the Kansas women? Davis and Angel Goodrich could both we WNBA first-rounders. Davis leads the Jayhawks with 15.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game while shooting nearly 60 percent from the floor.
Kelly Faris (5-11, G, Connecticut) – A graduate of Indy’s Heritage Christian High School, Faris has emerged as a top star for third-ranked Connecticut, averaging a modest 10.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. She shoots 55 percent from the floor and an impressive 45 percent from 3-point range. A wing player who also averages 3.1 steals, she’s not flashy and not usually a top scorer, but she’s steady. If her 18-point, 12-rebound, 6-assist game against previously unbeaten Duke was any indication, she may find a nice home in the WNBA.
Angel Goodrich (5-4, G, Kansas) – Despite the 5-4 frame, Goodrich averages 13.8 points, 6.5 assists and shoots 35 percent from beyond the arc. A mock draft site lists her at No. 6 to Seattle, perhaps as an heir apparent to Sue Bird. She is on the Wooden Award midseason watch list.
Tianna Hawkins (6-3, F, Maryland) – Anyone averaging 18.9 points and 10.4 rebounds in the ACC has got to be considered a top prospect. She’ll certainly be one of the top power forwards off the board, but will she be around at No. 9? A mock draft from DraftSite.com has her going to San Antonio at No. 8.
Tayler Hill (5-10, G, Ohio State) – Hill is one of the Big Ten Conference’s top scorers with 20.6 points per game, for a Buckeye team that uncharacteristically 1-5 (11th) in the conference standings.
Anna Martin (5-9, G, DePaul) – Martin averages 16.2 points and 4.0 assists for 15-5 DePaul.
A’dia Mathies (5-9, G, Kentucky) – Mathies has followed a strong junior season with a senior campaign that has led Kentucky to a 17-game win streak and a No. 5 ranking. She averages 15.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists, but is best noted for her 42 percent clip from behind the arc – 10th-best among all Div. I seniors through January.
Lindsey Moore (5-10, G, Nebraska) – The last Nebraska player to have a WNBA impact was Connecticut forward Kelsey Griffin, drafted in 2010. Moore shoots 43 percent from 3-point range while scoring 15.5 points with 5.5 assists per contest.
Sugar Rodgers (5-11, G, Georgetown) – Rodgers is the nation’s leading scorer with 24.6 points per game. An early mock draft has her slated for New York and Bill Laimbeer at No. 5. She is on the Wooden Award Midseason Top 20 Watch List.
Markel Walker (6-2, F, UCLA) – Identified in one mock draft as being selected No. 4 by Washington. Walker averages 12.3 points and 5.6 assists for the 13-4 Bruins.
Toni Young (6-2, F, Oklahoma State) – With 17 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, Young’s play warrants attention. She shoots 57 percent from the floor while helping Oklahoma State to an early 14-3 record. It’s only losses are against Big XII competition. Can OSU compete in the NCAA Tournament and can Young’s game translate to the pros?
There are 16 of the country’s top seniors. Perhaps one will be bound for Indianapolis on April 15. Or perhaps other players will emerge. No doubt we’ll be keeping an eye on the top prospects as games take on more significance in February and March.