The New York Liberty have the No. 1 pick for the second yr in a row, however the 2021 WNBA draft has many extra questions than solutions proper now. Will there be a full school season to guage expertise? Will any high seniors decide to return again for one more season, because the NCAA is permitting athletes to do due to the impression of COVID-19? What number of draft-eligible juniors will come out?
Will the Dallas Wings, the WNBA’s youngest workforce final season (24.20 common age), use all three of their first-round picks like they did final April? Or will the Wings attempt to commerce picks for a veteran or two? How will free company — which was extra energetic final season than ever earlier than — impression the draft?
Nothing appears clear, together with the No. 1 choose. Kentucky junior guard Rhyne Howard topped ESPN’s checklist of the best women’s college basketball players for 2020-21, and lots of suppose she may go first if she was eligible. She is not age-wise — she will not flip 22 in 2021 — and the one different manner she’d be eligible is that if she graduated early. A Kentucky spokesman stated Friday that Howard is just not planning to do this and expects to complete her school profession in 2022.
We embrace two juniors on this mock draft who’re eligible age-wise with this caveat: Neither has stated but if she is contemplating leaving early. Three draft-eligible juniors have been first-round picks in 2020 — Oregon’s Satou Sabally, Texas A&M’s Chennedy Carter and UConn’s Megan Walker — which took away from this yr’s senior class.
Anticipate that this mock might — and certain will — change dramatically as we undergo the season towards April’s draft.
Only a junior, she is eligible as a result of she turns 22 in September. The Collier practice has picked up loads of velocity in latest weeks. She averaged 13.1 PPG and 10.5 RPG as a sophomore, however at 6-5 has received stronger within the offseason and appears good so far for brand new Longhorns coach Vic Schaefer. That features a 44-point efficiency vs. North Texas, and a mean of 30.3 PPG and 12.0 RPG by way of three video games. It is going to be attention-grabbing to see how she does towards Texas A&M on Sunday (ESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET). With a lot uncertainty about No. 1, for proper now Collier appears a minimum of an honest guess. She might assist a Liberty workforce that in ending final in 2020 struggled with loads of issues comparative to the league’s higher groups.
She was eligible for the draft final season, however opted to return to Arizona and is without doubt one of the finest gamers within the Pac-12 and the nation. At 5-6, she’s on the small aspect, however is extremely fast, expert and fearless. After spending her freshman season at Washington, she has averaged 22.5 PPG, 6.1 RPG and 4.2 APG in her two seasons with Arizona. She additionally has a former WNBA participant as a mentor in Wildcats coach Adia Barnes. The Wings, as talked about, could determine to deal this or different picks. And contemplating they have already got Arike Ogunbowale, Dallas could not see McDonald as becoming a necessity. However she is perhaps the most effective participant obtainable this early.
3. Atlanta Dream: Awak Kuier, C, Finland
An athletic 6-4 submit, Kuier does not flip 20 till subsequent August, so we must see how WNBA-ready she could also be for 2021. However her potential is such, offensively and defensively, that she might be a lottery choose. Particularly with a draft that does not have an abundance of certain issues. The Dream might use extra depth within the submit. If they do not get that in free company, they might see a still-developing prospect with a excessive ceiling like Kuier as a worthwhile risk.
A starter since her freshman season, the 6-2 guard/ahead has averaged 14.8 PPG, 7.8 RPG and 1.8 APG. You possibly can make some comparability between Davis and former Woman Vol Shekinna Stricklen, a nine-year WNBA vet who can also be a flexible 6-2 participant. Indiana normal supervisor Tamika Catchings’ Tennessee background could lead her on this path, and Davis might match a necessity, too.
After spending her freshman yr at Texas Tech, Guirantes returned nearer to her New York house and has blossomed for the Scarlet Knights. Final season, she averaged 20.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG and three.1 APG, plus performed a team-high 37.1 minutes per recreation. Her 36-point showcase in a February win vs. Ohio State was one of many extra thrilling particular person performances of final season. Maybe the 2020 success of Rutgers alums Betnijah Laney and Kahleah Copper may additionally assist Guirantes’ profile.
She’s one of many two juniors we’re together with as a result of they’re age-eligible, though they haven’t indicated they’ll depart early. Westbrook has good dimension at 6 ft and may be very expert. She began in her two seasons at Tennessee, averaging 14.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG and 5.3 APG as a sophomore in 2018-19. She sat out final season after transferring to UConn, and is anticipated play lots this season for the Huskies. The Mercury may see her as a backcourt bridge to the longer term.
Her athleticism is plentiful; she averaged 18.9 PPG and eight.9 RPG final season, and 18.3 and eight.5 as a sophomore. Her skill to defend towards a number of kinds of gamers ought to assist, too. The problem, although, is that as an undersized ahead — she is listed at 6-0 — she in all probability wants extra guard expertise for the following degree. She will hit the 3-pointer — she has made 41 in her profession — and it’ll assist if she will enhance there. The important thing for the workforce that takes her, although, could also be to concentrate on what she does effectively and never what she does not.
Certain, she is small at 5-6, however take a look at the WNBA rookie of the yr final season: Minnesota’s 5-5 Crystal Dangerfield. Spouses Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley have anchored the Sky’s backcourt for a very long time, however Evans might be addition for her scoring functionality and her protection. She averaged 18.0 PPG and 4.2 APG final season.
After a powerful junior school profession, Mack has performed only one season in Stillwater. So followers exterior the Large 12 in all probability have not seen a lot of her. However at 6-4, she averaged 17.6 PPG and 12.5 RPG final season, plus had 96 blocked photographs and was named Large 12 newcomer of the yr. She does not shoot the 3-pointer, however she does all the things else fairly effectively.
In at the moment’s extra “positionless” basketball, the 6-2 Jones won’t be considered versatile sufficient; she additionally does not shoot the 3-ball. However she’s a powerful defender and a tireless workhorse on the boards, averaging double-digit rebounds (11.3, 11.7) the previous two seasons. And with Chennedy Carter gone from the Aggies, we would see Jones’ offensive numbers go up this season, too. That has been the case within the first three video games, as she has averaged 19.3 PPG, in comparison with 11.0 final season.
Probably the greatest tales in school sports activities, Mangakahia is again after sitting out final season whereas battling breast most cancers. Certain, she is simply 5-6, however you may’t deny her productiveness; she has averaged 17.1 PPG and 9.1 APG in her two seasons with Syracuse. The Australian might find yourself being the oldest participant on this draft — she turns 25 in April — however the optimistic of that’s her maturity. If she remains to be obtainable at this level, the Storm may see her as one other point-guard-in-waiting behind Sue Hen.
Like all the things else with this draft, it is rather laborious to guess what the Aces will do. They have been the WNBA’s worst 3-point taking pictures workforce final season with Kelsey Plum out with an Achilles damage. Boley is a unique sort of 3-point shooter at 6-2. After her freshman season at Notre Dame, she transferred to Oregon and shot 43 % (108 of 251) in 2018-19 and 44.1 % (78 of 177) final season from behind the arc. The mix of her dimension and perimeter taking pictures is perhaps interesting to Las Vegas, if her protection is taken into account ok.