Other WNBA teams may use their second and third-round draft picks to stock up on young international stars, such as Brazil's 19-year-old star Damiris Dantas do Amaral (No. 12), a 6-4 center discovered by former Houston Comet Janeth Arcain, who was named MVP of the last summer's 2011 FIBA U19 Women's World Championships. (Photo courtesy fiba.com.)
Other WNBA teams may use their second and third-round draft picks to stock up on young international stars, such as Brazil's 19-year-old star Damiris Dantas do Amaral (No. 12), a 6-4 center discovered by former Houston Comet Janeth Arcain, who was named MVP of the last summer's 2011 FIBA U19 Women's World Championships. (Photo courtesy fiba.com.)

WNBA Draft 2012 (Part II): Rounds two and three -- Is there a hidden gem out there?

Staff Writer
April 14, 2012 - 3:29am
Cal Poly's Kristina Santiago is one of those likely to be on the WNBA radar in the 2012 Draft's second and third rounds, perhaps going even higher depending on how general managers extrapolate their mid-major collegiate success to the pro level. (Photo by Matt Brown Photography/Cal Poly Media Relations.)

Cal Poly's Kristina Santiago is one of those likely to be on the WNBA radar in the 2012 Draft's second and third rounds, perhaps going even higher depending on how general managers extrapolate their mid-major collegiate success to the pro level. (Photo by Matt Brown Photography/Cal Poly Media Relations.)

On Thursday, Full Court took a look at the likely picks in round one of the upcoming 2012 WNBA Draft to be held on Monday, April 16, in Bristol, Conn. (See http://www.fullcourt.com/bob-corwin/5807/wnba-draft-2012-first-theres-nneka-ogwumike-then-lot-ifs-and-maybes.) As noted in that article, this year's WNBA draft is almost universally considered a comparatively weak one, with talent thinning out significantly by the latter half of the opening round, let alone round two.

Even in an average year, relatively few of those selected after the first round turn out to be "special"; more often than not, even those latter-round rookies who "stick" to a roster are gone a year or two later. Nonetheless, every year also produces its draft "steals." Sometimes these are diamonds in the rough whose skills continue to develop in the pressure-cooker of the pro game. Other times, a player's abilities may have been underestimated or simply overlooked, particularly in the case of midmajor or foreign players who so often labor away out of the limelight. Thus, while the second and third rounds of the draft are relatively unlike to have a major impact on the upcoming WNBA season, there's always the chance that a team will pick up some valuable help well past the top 12 picks.

Judging Mid-Majors and Foreigners

Every player listed in Full Court's projected first-round picks comes from a BCS-conference program. Domestically, that is considered the highest level of play in the USA short of the WNBA. As difficult as it is to compare those prospects, it becomes even harder to evaluate the performance of players from the mid-majors unless they happen to have come from a school that has scheduled a reasonable number of games against the major players.

Teams typically play others at their same level of competition, however. That leaves the evaluator in the unenviable position of trying to project, in the absence of much hard data, just how the mid-major prospect is likely to perform once she has moved to the same court as players who spent their entire careers in the world of major D-I women's basketball. Sometimes a player who averaged close to 20 points per game in the mids will prove to be better than the player who averaged 13 in the BCS; more often, she won't.

Can you make a valid extrapolation based on perhaps as few as two-to-four early season or postseason games a year in which the typical mid-major player has faced decent quality BCS-level opposition? One saying in scouting sums it up: “It’s not just what you do, but whom you do it against.”

A similar challenge attends the assessment of players who have built their careers in the European or Australian leagues. The rules of the game may be much the same, but the style of play can be quite different, and the with the exception of a handful of perennial power teams, the talent more widely (and thus, from team-to-team, less deeply) distributed than in the WNBA.

The bottom line: Of the 13 rookies from 2011 who averaged at least three points and 10 minutes of playing time per game, nine were from BCS conferences, two were from mid-majors and two were foreign-trained (Australian) players.

Second-Round Draft Order

13) Los Angeles (15-19) - pick acquired from Tulsa  (3-31) in 2011 as part of trade for Andrea Riley  
14) Atlanta (20-14) - pick acquired from Washington (6-28) in 2011 as part of a  2011 draft-day trade that brought Lindsay Harding to the Dream in exchange for Kelly Miller and Ta'Shia Phillips  
15) Los Angeles (15-19) - pick received from Chicago (14-20) in exchange for Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton  
16) Los Angeles (15-19)  
17) Tulsa (3-31) - one of two picks obtained from San Antonio (18-16) in 2011 in exchange for Scholanda Robinson  
18) Minnesota (27-7) - pick acquired in late February from Phoenix (19-15) in exchange for Charde Houston and the No. 24 pick in the 2012 Draft  
19) Minnesota (27-7) - pick acquired from New York (19-15) as part of a 2011 Draft Day swap that brought the Liberty the draft rights to Jessica Breland and the Lynx the rights to Angel Robinson  
20) Minnesota (27-7) - pick obtained from Atlanta (20-14) as part of another 2011 Draft Day trade that sent Felicia Chester to the Dream and Rachel Jarry to the Lynx; neither stuck for long.  
21) Connecticut (21-13)  
22) Seattle (21-13)  
23) Chicago (14-20) - pick originally acquired by Seattle (21-13) from Indiana (21-13) as part of four-player, three-team 2011 mega-trade keystone of which sent Katie Smith to Seattle from Washington; subsequently, Chicago obtained the selection as part of its January 2012 Swin Cash-Le'coe Willingham swap with Seattle.  
24) Phoenix (19-15) - pick obtained from Minnesota (27-7) on Feb. 28, 2012, as part of the Charde Houston trade

Second-Round Strategy Notes

Los Angeles with three of the first four picks of round two should be shopping for guard help.

With Allison Bales retiring and Erika de Souza and Sancho Lyttle both possibly out with their national teams until after the Olympic break, Atlanta will likely be looking for a big with pick number 14. Alternately, the Dream could take a sharpshooting wing to audition in camp.

Tulsa gained some valuable help in the backcourt in acquiring Temeka Johnson from Phoenix. They could still use reliable perimeter scoring, and depending on how they fare with their No. 4 first-round choice, some back-up in the post especially in the first-half of the season as they await Liz Cambage's return from her Australian National Team Olympic training commitments.

Minnesota, already loaded, will likely be taking phone calls regarding the three second-round and one third-round picks the franchise possesses; alternatively, while an Olympic year is a risky time to bank on the availability of foreign players who may have national team responsibilities to fulfill, the Lynx are deep enough to draft a couple of young foreign pros for use in future years.

Like most teams, Connecticut could always use some additional perimeter scoring as well as talented relievers, but they're well-fixed in the post and at the point, and may, like Minnesota and most of the teams in this round, simply opt for the best available talent on the board.

The greatest need for Seattle is back-up, both at the point and in the frontcourt. Neither Sue Bird nor Lauren Jackson is getting any younger and while both still appear to have plenty of tread left on their tires, late-season injury problems are no strangers to the Storm.

Chicago is most in need of a versatile perimeter player, but at No. 23 may simply opt for the best available remaining talent on the board.

Phoenix hurt itself at the point in the Temeka Johnson-Andrea Riley trade, especially after failing to re-sign Ketia Swanier. They may take the opportunity to audition some back-ups there. Their greatest need is for someone to fill the awfully large shoes of the injured Penny Taylor, but it's unlikely that need will be filled at No. 24.

As with the Lynx, other teams may walk away from domestic talent on the board after round one, opting to gain the rights to talented young foreign players in the hope they will come to the WNBA in a future year.

Second-Round Prospects

Note: We believe most teams will opt to land the best-available talent after this year's opening round, with an eye to their team needs, of course, but without an overriding mission to pursue the answer to those needs out of the remaining draft pool. As a result, unlike the first-round prospects, second and third-round players have been listed below alphabetically by round with no attempt predict the team most likely to draft them.

Nika Baric -- 5-7, G, Slovenia (Moscow Spartak)
Stats of Note: 3.2 ppg, 42.9% FG

Baric, a  20-year-old Slovenian international, plays back-up behind Becky Hammon as a lead guard for Spartak. She does not see much playing time -- of late, just over 12 minutes per game -- but the scoop is that she is much better than her stats would indicate. There is certainly plenty of upside potential: Baric began playing for her country's U16 national team at the tender age of 12. Though women's basketball is still emerging in Slovenia, which competes at the B level in the European championship, Baric has twice taken MVP honors while playing in international competition with, and against, players often four years her senior.

Laura Broomfield, 6-1, F, North Carolina
Collegiate Stats of Note: 9.0 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 46.1% FG

If you are looking for a physically aggressive, well-built, get-after-you power forward, look no further than this Tar Heel. Teams will be most interested in Broomfield for her nose for the basketball -- though Broomfield was second on the team in scoring at nine points per game, she was far and away UNC's best rebounder, hauling down 9.8 boards per outing. Broomfield often served a relief role for the Heels; she started in 17 of the 26 games played in her senior season, but both her availability and her minutes were limited by a series of injuries to her foot/ankle and her eye; but for those injuries, she might well have been averaging a double-double. But whether starting or coming off the bench, Broomfield was known for her high-energy play.

The knock on Broomfield is a lack of shooting range (no three-pointers made this season); she also shoots a paltry 45 percent from the foul line.

Damiris Dantas do Amaral, 6-4, C, Brazil
Stats of Note (U19 FIBA World Championship): 20.9 ppg, 12.6 rpg, 43.7% FG

Named MVP of the 2011 U19 World Championship in Chile last summer after leading Brazil past Australia to the bronze, 19-year-old Damiris Dantas do Amaral,  who posted 26 points and hauled down 13 boards in the the bronze-medal game, may lack the competitive experience an NCAA collegiate career has given many of her rivals for a WNBA berth, but the talent is most definitely there. Her 20.9 points and 12.6 rebounds per game in the FIBA U19 Women's World Championship last summer were both tournament bests. Dantas do Amaral currently plays for Divino/COC Juniai in Brazil, but it is difficult to assess her statistical performance on the Brazilian club circuit.

Perhaps the best indication of her ability to compete at an elite level was her team-high, 13-point, eight-rebound outing in Brazil's 68-82 semifinal loss to the United States. Dantas, who played 36 of the game's 40 minutes in which she also contributed three steals and two assists, was matched in the frontcourt Americans Breanna Stewart, a Connecticut-commit (23 min., six points, nine boards, two blocks) and Duke's Elizabeth Williams (17 min., nine points, four rebounds), who took Full Court's National Freshman of the Year honors this season. Connecticut sophomore Stefanie Dolson also saw 17 miinutes off the bench in that game and actually fared the best of the lot, putting up 12 points on six-of-nine from the field, while hauling down eight rebounds and swatting down two blocks. The inference: Dantas may still be a work in progress, but the raw materials are there. A protégé of former Houston Comets great Janeth Arcain, Amaral could be picked as early as Round One.

Sasha Goodlett, 6-5, C, Georgia Tech
Collegiate Stats of Note: 14.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 51.7% FG

Goodlett dropped over 40 pounds this season, improved her level of fitness and conditioning as well as her skill sets, and as a result spent her season establishing one personal best after another, while leading her team to a number of program bests (including its 26-win overall record and 12-win ACC record this season). This Yellow Jacket's game is begins at the mid-key and works inward from there, with a lot of on-the-block activity, though this season Goodlett added some face-up game out to the foul line. She finished her time at Georgia Tech ranked among the top 10 in school history in scoring (1,364 points -- No. 10), rebounding (760 boards -- No. 9) and blocks (127 -- No. 5).

The downside: Despite evidence of much improved conditioning in her senior season, Goodlett would still be considered on the heavy side by most standards, placing her ability to get up and down the floor at a WNBA pace in question, a factor that could effect her salability to the league's run-and-gun-style programs. Nonetheless, though we see Goodlett as a more likely high second-round pick, she has been invited by the league to attend the draft in Bristol and could well go as high as low first-round.

Courtney Hurt, 6-1, F, Virginia Commonwealth
Collegiate Stats of Note: 22.3 ppg, 13.1 rpg, 46.5% FG, 32.4% 3FG

Some see Hurt as a slightly thinner version of Le’coe Willingham, now of the Chicago Sky. This Ram may actually have more range than did Willingham coming out of college. Hurt's stats are impressive -- among other accolades, she broke VCU's all-time career-rebounding record this February when she pulled down her 1,117th board (she finished out her career with 1,160 rebounds) and is also the school's all-time career-scoring leader with 1,974 points. Some -- but not much -- discount on those stats may be appropriate based on VCU's mid-major status. One has got to remember that the Colonial Athletic Association, which finished seventh among NCAA Division I conferences in RPI this season, hot on the heels of the ACC, had some pretty high-caliber competition this season, and Hurt nonetheless finished at the top of the CAA pack in rebounding and second only to Delaware's Elena Delle Donne in scoring. Together with Goodlett and Lynetta Kizer (see below), Hurt would have to be considered one of the best of the posts available in this year's draft.

Tavelyn James, 5-7, G, Eastern Michigan
Collegiate Stats of Note: 23.8 ppg, 40.3% FG, 31.0% 3FG

This guard was not bashful about putting the ball up from the shooting guard position -- James took 32 percent of her team’s attempts this season. At the same time, unlike many high-volume shooters, James, who took home this year's Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award (given annually to the nation's top female player onder 5-7) generally did an awfully nice job of knocking them down; her 24.7 points per game this season ranks second in NCAA Division I, behind only Elena Delle Donne. James, a Full Court second-team Mid-Major All American, is quick, will not back down and possesses an attack mentality. She is exceptionally successful in getting to the foul line (roughly 5.8 times per game).

Much more so than Hurt, James may suffer from the difficulties inherent in translating her success at the mid-major level to a prediction of her performance in the WNBA. In Eastern Michigan's games against BCS opponents, James continued her high-volume shooting, but at times struggled to score. Representing the United States in the Pan American Games last autumn, James started all four games and finished as the team's second-leading scorer with 9.8 points per game. That output might be more indicative of her potential average in the WNBA, though like Andrea Riley, a player with a similar game, she will likely also explode sporadically for significantly higher numbers.

Lynetta Kizer, 6-4, C, Maryland
Collegiate Stats of Note: 10.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 43.7% FG, 31.3% 3FG

Kizer, a strongly built post player, deserves credit for the way in which she adapted to a new role off the bench her senior year after having started for most of her collegiate career. The change reduced the stat volume a bit for Kizer, who also sat out several games early in the season on suspension for unspecified reasons, but Kizer took home ACC honors as Sixth Woman of the Year.

Kizer gets most of her work done close to the basket, but this season she also added range to her arsenal. The three-pointer still is not her primary offensive weapon, but Kizer now has enough range that defenders have to respect her when she spots up near, or even beyond, the arc.

Conditioning remains a negative for Kizer, a player with a bigger-than-average frame whose energy level on the court often fluctuates significantly and who often seems to run out of gas faster than many posts. Another liability is frequently poor shot selection. Still, given the shortage of elite posts in this year's draft, Kizer is another player who could be picked near the bottom of round one, though we expect to see her go in the second round.

Shey Peddy, 5-7, G, Temple
Collegiate Stats of Note: 17.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.1 apg, 3.1 spg, 46.8% FG, 37.9% 3FG

Peddy has played both guard positions during her college career, playing more of the scorer’s role for the Owls this season. A first-team Full Court Mid-Major All American, Peddy, who spent two years at Wright State before transferring to Temple, is a player who could easily move up to the first round. For example, while Peddy, like Rutger's product Khadijah Rushdan (see http://www.fullcourt.com/bob-corwin/5807/wnba-draft-2012-first-theres-nneka-ogwumike-then-lot-ifs-and-maybes), offers strong skills on the defensive side of the ball, having earned A-10 All-Defensive Team honors, as well as selection to the all-conference first team, Peddy also brings strong offensive punch to the table. She might be another good fit as a first-round choice for Washington, for example.

Brittany Rayburn, 6-0, G, Purdue
Collegiate Stats of Note: 14.8 ppg, 40.0% FG, 36.4% 3FG

Rayburn brings the team that takes her nice size for a guard as well as strong three-point marksmanship. She finished her career second in Boilermaker history in made threes (201) and tied the NCAA record, and broke both school and Big Ten Conference records, by knocking down 12 treys against Minnesota this season. She was also recognized by her team this season with the Coach's Award for her leadership, consistency, coachability and teamwork.

Rayburn's athleticism is in the middle of the road at this level, however, which means she better shoot the ball well in camp to have a shot at a roster spot.

Kristina Santiago, 6-2, F, Cal Poly
Collegiate Stats of Note: 23.4 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 55.5% FG, 4/13 3FG

Santiago, a power forward with a strong a face-up game, came back from an ACL injury that prematurely ended the two-time Big West Player of the Year's 2010-11 season, to earn a spot on the WNBA radar this season. A second-team Full Court Mid-Major All-American, Santiago finished he collegiate career as Cal Poly's all-time leading scorer (1,953 points) and rebounder (850 boards) after leading her conference in both categories, as well as in field-goal percentage. Though some doubt she will go before the third round (and may be right, due more to lack of exposure than to what her talent level deserves), we believe both the foregoing skills, her stylish attacking styling, her willingness to take hits and ability to use them to get to the foul line (over six times per game) have earned her a second-round pick. The downside: Lack of range; the threes is simply not a part of her game.

Kayla Standish, 6-2, F, Gonzaga
Collegiate Stats of Note: 16.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 48.0% FG

A mid-range face-up power forward, Standish, another Full Court Mid-Major All American, helped carry the 'Zags to yet another NCAA Sweet Sixteen run in a year when many believed the graduation of All-American point guard Courtney Vandersloot meant lean times ahead for the Bulldogs. Two deep NCAA Tournament runs will likely help raise the draft status of Standish, the first player in Gonzaga history to put together two back-to-back 30-plus-point games, versus other mid-majors who did not share similar team success on an elite stage. One negative: Again, lack of range; Standish made only two threes in 18 attempts all year.

Tyra White, 6-0, G, Texas A&M
Collegiate Stats of Note: 13.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 41.2% FG

This Aggie, a fine, athletic wing and a solid middle-distance jump shooter, has been on the radar for several years, and was an integral part of Texas A&M's run to the national championship a year ago. Still, individually, White's game has not taken off to the degree one might have hoped, and her three-point shooting (11/42 or 26.2%) is not what WNBA scouts generally want in their shooting guard (and WNBA percentages tend to go down from college). At the same time, Whte may too often settle for jumpers rather than attacking the basket, as evidenced by her modest ability to get to the line (roughly 3.7 times per game) and her 58.8 percent shooting at the charity stripe is unlikely to impress.

Third-Round Draft Order

25) Tulsa (3-31)  
26) Washington (6-28)  
27) Chicago (14-20)  
28) Los Angeles (15-19)  
29) Tulsa from San Antonio (18-16) (S. Robinson, 5/2/11)  
30) Phoenix (19-15)  
31) Minnesota (27-7) - pick acquired from New York (19-15) in 2011 as part of trade for Quanitra Hollingsworth  
32) Atlanta (20-14)  
33) Phoenix (19-15) - pick obtained from Connecticut (21-13) in 2011 Draft Day trade for the rights to Tahnee Robinson  
34) Indiana (21-13) - pick came from Seattle (21-13) in 2011 as part of the Katie Smith-Monroe-Thomas-Phillips three-team mega-deal.  
35) Washington (6-28) - pick obtained from Indiana (21-13) in the same 2011 deal.  
36) New York (19-15) - pick acquired from Minnesota (27-7) in 2011 deal for Quanitra Hollingsworth  

Third-Round Strategy Notes

There's not much to be said here. This deep in the draft nearly everyone will be grabbing the best available talent on the board, or banking rights to young international players in hopes of adding them to future rosters.

Third-Round Prospects

Time to dig deep! As usual, some could go a round higher while others will not be drafted at all. If a couple of the players below stick this year, that will be a lot.

Vicki Baugh, 6-4, F/C, Tennessee
Collegiate Stats of Note: 7.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 57.7% FG

Baugh comes in as "damaged goods" due to long-standing knee issues. Still, though this Lady Vol's minutes were restricted, Baugh, a grad student after redshirting the 2009-10 season and missing nearly 21 months of playing time while rehabbing her left knee, is a reliable inside scorer who led Tennessee in field-goal percentage this season. A team might grab her as a productive reliever, and indeed some may feel she has even greater value -- and will go quite a bit higher-- as Baugh was one of three Tennessee players to attend the 2012 WNBA Draft in person this season.

Cierra Bravard, 6-4, C, Florida State
Collegiate Stats of Note: 14.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 54.6% FG

It was a tough year for the Seminoles, and an up-and-down season for Bravard, the team's scoring leader, in her last year in Tallahassee. Still, Bravard graduated with third-team All-ACC honors, finishing in the top 10 in school history in free throws made (453 - No. 1), scoring (1,501 points - No. 6), blocks (113 - No. 4), rebounds (768 - No. 9), and games played (132 - No. 3). Bravard has been likened to Jayne Appel in her play in the lower key, but Appel has never been accused of failing to show up mentally, while Bravard's focus often seemed to fluctuate and she herself admitti in a press conference that in one game, her focus could have been better.

Brittany Carter, 5-9, G, Memphis
Collegiate Stats of Note: 12.8 ppg, 40.5% FG, 23.7% 3FG

A Lowe's second-team All-American, Carter, who transferred to Memphis after a year at Georgia, is a quality wing athlete. Picked as preseason Conference USA Player of the Year, Carter, a two-team all-conference first-team selectee,  battled an ankle injury that slowed her down through the late season but still finished well enough to earn postseason C-USA second-team honors. Carter, already known for her offense, improved on the defensive side of the ball this year, but still struggled to shoot the three-ball. Shot selection has also been an issue at times.

Ashleigh Fontenette, 5-8, G, Texas
Collegiate Stats of Note: 11.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.6 apg, 37.2% FG, 35.8% 3FG

This Longhorn has a lot of versatility in her game. With decent mobility and a strong build, Fontenette has the ability to successfully defend both one and two-guards. Though Fontennette was UT's second-leading scorer, her problem nonetheless comes at the offensive end where her shooting accuracy, or lack thereof, may place her below the cut line.

Ashley Gayle, 6-4, C, Texas
Collegiate Stats of Note: 5.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 40.0% FG

Gayle may get a look as a shot blocker/rebounder off the bench, thanks to her strong athletic build. Her offensive skills have never measured up to her physical tools during her tenure in Austin, however.

Briana Gilbreath, 6-1, G, Southern California
Collegiate Stats of Note: 12.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 38.7% FG and 3FG

This Trojan has a long and lanky build that will help her stand out among backcourt draft candidates. A four-time all-conference team selection, Gilbreath, USC's scoring, steals and blocks leader this year, added a third PAC-12 All-Defensive Team selection to her accolades this year. At the WNBA level, Gilbreath is a player who can do a lot of things quite well, even if no single skill area stands out as star-quality. The other question is whether she has that extra fire one needs to succeed in the WNBA.

Amanda Johnson, 6-2, F, Oregon
Stats of note: 18.0 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 43.3% FG, 37.6% 3FG

Those familiar with this Duck find similarities between her game and that of Oregon alumna Cathrine Kraayeveld, who now plays with the Atlanta Dream.  A first-team All-Pac-12 Team honoree, Johnson is a face-up power forward who operates with more finesse than pure physical power. Her relatively small stature at the position will probably will lessen her chances of sticking, though her shooting range could offset that liability to some degree (44-of-117 from three-point range in her senior season).

Lykendra Johnson, 6-1, F, Michigan State
Collegiate Stats of Note: 10.8 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 43.7% FG, 27.1% 3FG

Johnson played more on the perimeter earlier in her career in East Lansing, but with a shortage of interior players, this Spartan was moved inside, where she was often forced to match-up against bigger opponent in a competitive Big Ten. She may not always have succeeded but Johnson didn’t back down, as she used her athleticism and physical will to offset size. This is a case where stats may understate Johnson's true value as a player.

Chay Shegog, 6-5, C, North Carolina
Collegiate Stats of Note: 15.6 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 52.9% FG

The range of opinion on this Tar Heel scoring leader is wide, indeed: Some consider her as a likely lower first-round while others are quite negative in their evaluations. On the one hand, Shegog shoots the ball well, often making tough shots over the top of small defenders. She has a soft touch around the basket and reliable range out to 15 feet. On the other hand, despite her height, Shegog has a reputation as "soft" because she lacks upper body strength and does not seem enthusiastic about scrapping in the post for rebounds (which should certainly be better at her size). She also travels too often and has a dreadful free-throw percentage (59.3 percent) which needs to improve if she is to succeed as a WNBA post. Still, this is a player who deserves a chance to prove her worth in the league.

Da’Shena Stevens, 6-1, F, St. John’s
Collegiate Stats of Note: 11.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 43.2% FG

Stevens is athletic and well-built but a bit small for a WNBA-level low post operator.  Still, all one needs to do to appreciate Stevens' value is to take a look beyond the stats at St. John's performance early this season during Stevens' 10-game layoff to rehab an off-season injury to its rise to elite status, including an upset of UConn on its home court, after the Red Storm star returned to the line-up. Coach Kim Barnes Arico characterizes Stevens as "the turning point" in St. John's trip from the Big East to its status as the league's second seed this season heading into the conference tournament. That alone should earn her a look.

Avery Warley, 6-3, C, Liberty
Collegiate Stats of Note: 12.9 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 57.4% FG

A first-team All Big South selection, Warley is strongly built with a body-type often found in the WNBA. An indefatiguable rebounder, who finished No. 7 individually in the NCAA in rebounding this year and set a new Liberty record in single season rebounds with 381 on the year, Warley has burned up both the Flames' record books and the Big South Conference since redshirting her freshman year. She carried the Flames to their fourth consecutive finish in the NCAA in rebounding margin (+15.6 this season). But, though Warley managed 10 boards against Notre Dame in the Liberty's first-round NCAA meeting with Notre Dame -- the highest-level competition the team faced all year -- she was held to just six points and gave up five turnovers in that game, suggesting she needs to raise her game and intensity to a whole new level if she is to succeed on the pro level.

Julie Wojta, 6-0, G/F, Green Bay
Collegiate Stats of Note: 19.5 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 3.5 apg, 3.8 spg

Wojta received Full Court Third Team All-American honors and first-team Full Court Mid-Major All-American honors, both well deserved. The Horizon Conference Player of the Year and the league's Defensive Player of the Year, Wojta graduates as her school's all-time single-season leader in steals (127) and made field-goals (252) and second in single-season scoring (644) and rebounding (328), and holds the school's career record in double-doubles (35).

But it takes nothing away from Wojta's achievements to say she could prove to be one of those collegiate stars who struggles in the pro game. As a "tweener" at the three/four-forward position, Wojta's game does not translate well to the "W." Her ball-handling will need to get better quickly as she will likely play on the perimeter at the pro level. Invited to the draft, she could easily be the last of the 15 athletes attending in Bristol to be selected.


The 2012 WNBA Draft is likely to be remembered as one of the weakest in recent years. For the majority of franchises, there is barely room to keep one draft pick this year. Landing a spot on a roster will be tough going for this year's second and third-round draft picks, but the potential for a steal exists now just as in any year.