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2018 WNBA Draft Preview

by Todd Roman on Apr. 2, 2018

The NCAA tournament has wrapped up with Notre Dame winning their first championship in 17 years. Now the focus turns to the WNBA draft, scheduled to be held on April 12 in New York City.

Wade Trophy winner, Naismith, AP & USBWA Player of the Year and three-time consensus first-team All-American A’ja Wilson (South Carolina) is expected to be the #1 overall pick by the recently relocated Las Vegas Aces. The Indiana Fever hold the #2 pick, and with UConn's Azura Stevens announcing she‘s entering the draft, this pushes certain players down the draft board. Stevens is a clear choice at #2.

Then the draft starts to get interesting with the Chicago Sky holding both the #3 & #4 picks. The Sky’s biggest void is at PF, but none are worth taking at either pick this early on. Trades are always likely in a situation that the Sky are in. The best available players for these picks are Kelsey Mitchell (Ohio St.), wings Diamond DeShields (Tennessee/Turkey), Gabby Williams (UConn) & Victoria Vivians (Mississippi St.), or PG's with Jordan Canada (UCLA), Lexie Brown (Duke) or Kia Nurse (UConn) Then there’s Russia’s young superstar center in Maria Vadeeva. As with previous foreign players available for the draft, Vadeeva’s status on whether she’ll show up or not is unknown. So unless there’s been some behind-the-scenes negotiations that she’ll play this season, Vadeeva likely drops to a team willing to wait on her arrival. Otherwise Vadeeva could land with Chicago with one of their picks. Other noteworthy potential first round picks are Mercedes Russell (Tennessee), Monique Billings (UCLA), Marie Gulich (Oregon St.), Tyler Scaife (Rutgers), Myisha Hines-Allen (Louisville) & early draft entrée Jill Barta (Gonzaga).

Take a look at our Full 3-Round 2018 WNBA Mock Draft to see how we think this draft will actually unfold. In the meantime, here's an in-depth look at the top 10 prospects at each position:

 

Ranking the guards:

1.Kelsey Mitchell, Ohio State: Second all-time leading NCAA women’s scorer. Was likely headed to Indiana at #2 until UConn's Azura Stevens declared for the draft. Brings instant scoring to any team after averaging 24.3 ppg her senior year. Easily Sky’s #3 pick.

2. Jordan Canada, UCLA: Solid ball handler who’s not afraid of going inside. Could go as high as #5 to Seattle.

3. Lexie Brown, Duke: Hard working PG who broke Duke’s single game steals record. Solid three point shooter. Possibly going #5 to Seattle or as low as #9 to Connecticut.

4. Kia Nurse, UConn: Solid all-around guard. 2017-18 stats: 13.7ppg, 3.4rpg & 2.8apg. Possibly going #5 to Seattle or as low as #9 to Connecticut.

5. Tyler Scaife, Rutgers: High scoring guard without a strong three point shot. Strong defensive qualities. Early to mid-second round pick.

6. Ariel Atkins, Texas: High three point shooter (42%) and strong defensive guard (2.5spg). Could go as high as #10 to New York, but possibly more of a mid-second round pick.

7. Loryn Goodwin, Oklahoma State: Solid PG who’s NCAA tournament appearances moved her up in the draft. 2017-18 stats: 20.6ppg, 6.7rpg, 5.5 apg. Possible mid to late-second round pick.

8. Lexi Bando, Oregon: 46% three point shooter her senior season. Decent defender but lacks some quickness. Late second round/early third round pick to a team needing to improve their three point shooting.

9. Morgan William, Mississippi State: Pesky, small PG who drastically reduced her turnovers her senior season. A pass first PG that needs to work on her shooting. Mid to late second round pick.

10. Katelynn Flaherty, Michigan: Strong three point shooter. Needs to reduce her turnovers and work on her defense. Third round pick to a team needing a three point specialist.

Other notables: Tyra Buss, Indiana; Brook McCarty, Texas; AJ Alix, Florida St.; Carlie Wagner, Minnesota; Jackie Kemph, St. Louis.

 

Ranking the wings:

1. Gabby Williams, UConn: Solid all around player. Played the 4 mostly at UConn and will have to transition to SF in the WNBA. Could go as high as #3 to Chicago, but with teammate Azura Stevens entering early, Williams could drop to #7 now.

2. Diamond DeShields, Tennessee: High scoring wing that left Tennessee early to play overseas (Cukurova/Turkey). Great ball handler and solid overall player. Could go #3/#4 to Chicago, all depends who the Sky value more between DeShields, Kelsey Mitchell & Gabby Williams.  Could also go #5 to Seattle or as low as #7 to Washington.

3. Victoria Vivians, Mississippi State: Vivians’ stock increased throughout her senior year & the NCAA tournament. High scoring wing capable of creating her own shot & solid defender. Possible lottery pick but more than likely a mid-first round pick to either Washington (#7), Phoenix (#8) or New York (#10).

4. Shakayla Thomas, Florida State: High volume shooter that needs to work on her defense and turnovers, & find a three point shot. Early to mid-second round pick.

5. Teana Muldrow, West Virginia: Solid all-around shooter that has gone under the radar. Needs to work on ball handling and reducing her turnovers. Early to mid second round pick.

6. Ke’Shunan James, Murray State: The high scoring mid-major player of the 2018 draft. High volume shooter with solid defense & high basketball IQ. Mid second round pick.

7. Maria Jespersen, Florida: Undersized PF who’ll have to transition to SF in the WNBA. Strong rebounder, but needs to work on defense & her shooting. Late second round/early third round pick.

8. Tashia Brown, Western Kentucky: High volume shooter that needs to work on her three point shooting & turnovers. Good defender from a mid-major school. Third round pick.

9. Camille Zimmerman, Columbia: Averaged a double-double at Columbia. Needs to work on her three point shooting, footwork, & ball handling. Third round pick.

10. Rebecca Greenwell, Duke: Strong three point shooter & good defender. Versatile player that can play the 1, 2, or 3. Needs to work on defense & rebounding. Possible late second round/early third round pick.

Other notables: Delaney Hodgins, Eastern Washington; Amy Griffin, LaSalle; Maya Singleton, St. John’s; Jessica Lindstrom, Green Bay; Javonna Layfield, Dayton.

 

Ranking the posts:

1. A’ja Wilson, South Carolina: Wade Trophy winner, Naismith, AP & USBWA Player of the Year, three time consensus first-team All-American. #1 pick to Las Vegas.

2. Azura Stevens, UConn: Stevens is foregoing her senior year and decided to enter the 2018 draft. Easily becomes a lottery pick (which may not have happened in 2019) and gives Indiana a big advantage at #2.

3. Maria Vadeeva, Russia: The wrench in this year’s draft. Talent alone, she’s a lottery pick. But the league’s history of foreigners not showing up (Cambage, Stepanova, Torrens) will drop her to a team willing to wait (Indiana, Connecticut, Los Angeles). First round pick possibly, but shouldn't drop past #15.

4. Mercedes Russell, Tennessee: Solid, mature inside post & strong rebounder. Needs to work on her footwork. Mid first round pick, possibly to Dallas at #6.

5. Marie Gulich, Oregon State: Likely the player that upped her draft stock the most with the NCAA tournament. Strong footwork and solid defender. A bit slow and needs to work on conditioning to succeed in the WNBA. Late first round/early second round pick.

6. Monique Billings, UCLA: Versatile post capable of playing the 3, 4 or 5. Nearly average a double-double her senior year. Needs to work on her footwork and being able to play against more physical posts. Mid to late first round pick.

7. Jill Barta, Gonzaga: Choose to forego her senior season and enter the draft. 6’3” post with a strong outside shot. Needs to work on defense and being able to work inside against bigger posts. Early to mid second round pick.

8. Myisha Hines-Allen, Louisville: Upped her stock with the NCAA tournament. Nearly averaged a double-double her senior season. Capable of playing the 3 or 4. Needs to work on her outside shooting & reducing turnovers. Early to mid second round pick.

9. Stephanie Mavunga, Ohio State: Strong shooter & rebounder with a high basketball IQ. Averaged a double-double her senior year. Has a history of injuries and needs to work on her outside shooting. Early second round pick.

10. Jamie Nared, Tennessee: A flexible player capable of playing the 3 or 4. Needs to work on her shooting, reducing turnovers, & defense. Poor NCAA tournament showing. Mid to late second round pick.

Other notablesKaylee Jensen, Oklahoma State; Vionese Pierre-Louis, Oklahoma; Cynthia Petke, Georgetown; Natalie Butler, George Mason; Khaalia Hillsman, Texas A&M; Chatrice White, Florida St.