DRAFT DAY PHOTO GALLERY
It was a pretty boring draft day, with no stunning surprises – until New York’s John Whisenant took Kelley Cain with the seventh pick, thus inspiring the entire Liberty fan base to rise up as one and call for his immediate execution.
OK, the reaction wasn’t quite that severe, but whatever it means to run someone out of town on a rail, New York fans were behind it.
That said, Cain might turn out to be an OK pick (if she’s finally healthy), and it’s not like there were any sure things after her name was called.
There was a moderate surprise as well when Shenise Johnson dropped to San Antonio at No. 5. The chalk had her as the No. 2 pick, but Brian Agler went for Shekinna Stricklen instead, and then Minnesota and Tulsa went for power forwards rather than shooting guards.
Extra credit to anyone who had Aston Dabo in the first-foreigner-drafted pool, and extra extra credit for tabbing Isabelle Yaucoubou as one of the picks.
But enough babbling … on to the draft.
1. Nneka Ogwumike, Stanford (Los Angeles) Yes, the sun rises in the east. Though the Sparks don’t need a power forward – that Parker kid is supposed to be pretty good – Ogwumike is clearly the best pick on the board. Ten years from now, we’ll know if she was the best player as well.
2. Shekinna Stricklen, Tennessee (Seattle) As many expected, the Storm picked Stricklen, a 6-2 wing who can do everything pretty well, but isn’t outstanding in any one area – except being a 6-2 wing. But basketball is a game that rewards the tall and a sufficiently motivated Stricklen is a matchup nightmare.
3. Devereaux Peters, Notre Dame (Minnesota) Uh, well, why not? Shenise Johnson is a shooting guard, and the Lynx have way too many of those already, and it’s possible Peters will become a passable power forward. She’s athletic, competitive and has a knack for rebounding, so if she stays healthy, she might have a career.
4. Glory Johnson, Tennesee (Tulsa) Just like veteran GM Penny Toler, newcomer Gary Kloppenburg had to go with the best available player, even if Johnson duplicates the Tulsa strength at power forward, represented by veteran Tiffany Jackson and youngster Kayla Pedersen. Johnson’s perimeter weaknesses have been noted, but she’s a tremendous athlete who presumably can learn to make a 15-footer and to avoid turnovers (she led the Volunteers in that category).
5. Shenise Johnson, Miami (San Antonio) Dan Hughes had to be a little surprised the player many viewed as the second best in the draft fell this far, but “pleasantly surprised” or “very pleasantly surprised” might be a better description. Meet Becky Hammon’s successor.
6. Samantha Prahalis, Ohio State (Phoenix) Prahalis is an offensive-minded guard (read “doesn’t defend”) who likes style as much as substance. Is she made to order for Phoenix or what?
7. Kelley Cain, Tennessee (New York) The first surprise of the draft, Cain quit at Tennessee, supposedly because of injuries, but after finding a cure in Europe, John Whisenant rolled the dice on the 6-5 post. Desperation arrived early.
8. Natalie Novosel, Notre Dame (Washington) One question: Is she quick enough? My answer is no, but I’ve been wrong before. Then again, this is Washington making the pick, so the odds just went up that Novosel won’t be able to get around WNBA defenders, and won’t be able to slow down WNBA two guards.
9. Astan Dabo, Mali (Connecticut) Maybe this is one foreign player Mike Thibault can get to come to Uncasville year in and year out. If so, she’s tall (6-8) and young (19). She’s not all that dazzling right now, but the Sun are hoping that a) she becomes dazzling in a couple years; and b) she’s still coming to Connecticut every summer when she does.
10. LaSondra Barrett, LSU (Washington) An athletic three/four who doesn’t shoot it very well, Barrett might find a home in the league as a plus defender with decent ballhandling skills. Then again, she’s now a Mystic, so much hope needs to be abandoned.
11. Sasha Goodlet, Georgia Tech (Indiana) Six-five is 6-5, and Goodlett has improved every season at Georgia Tech. She’s the kind of player who could settle in the WNBA as a backup post for a long time – after all, look at Ashley Robinson.
12. Damiris Dantas, Brazil (Minnesota) The Lynx have too many players and not enough roster spots, so picking a 6-4 19-year-old who says she’s not coming to America until 2017 makes sense – especially given the other options available.
BRISTOL, CT - APRIL 16: Tiffany Hayes poses with Chief of Basketball Operations and Player Relations Renee Brown after being drafted number fourteen overall by the Atlanta Dream during the 2012 WNBA Draft Presented By Boost Mobile on April 16, 2012 at ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images)
13. Farhiya Abdi, Sweden (Los Angeles) The first pick of the second round couldn’t make 30% of her shots in Euroleague play and only 53% of her free throws. She’s 6-2, for whatever that’s worth. Or, as Sparks’ fans would say, Penny Toler strikes again.
14. Tiffany Hayes, Connecticut (Atlanta) So Hayes didn’t shine in the Final Four – she’s a versatile, skilled player who’s competed at the highest level. She’s not going to step right in with Atlanta, but she should be a solid contributor on the wing.
15. Khadijah Rushdan, Rutgers (Los Angeles) The Sparks have a point guard question, but unless Rushdan finds an outside shot, she’s unlikely to be the answer.
16. Tyra White, Texas A&M (Los Angeles) With back-to-back picks, Toler “addressed” the guard situation – except for the details that Rushdan can’t shoot and White can’t shoot or pass (41.2%, 54/72 A/TO).
17. Riquna Williams, Miami (Tulsa) Any player who gets booted off the team by her coach just before the NCAA tournament – and, from all reports, voted off the Hurricane by her teammates – comes with some risk. But what do the Shock have to lose?
18. Julie Wojta, Green Bay (Minnesota) Wisconsin is close enough to Minnesota for this pick to make some home-town sense. But she’s only six feet tall, and there’s not a wing on the roster she’s even close competing with talent wise.
19. Kayla Standish, Gonzaga (Minnesota) A 6-2 forward without exceptional strength or rebounding ability needs to shoot threes to survive in this league – and Standish made two of 18 in the West Coast Conference.
20. Nika Baric, Slovenia (Minnesota) Does it seem like the Lynx make every other pick? If true, it doesn’t really matter, because Baric won’t be on the roster. She’s young, granted, but 3.2 ppg in Euroleague play doesn’t spell “star” in Slovenian. Or any other language.
21. Chay Shegog, UNC (Connecticut) If Dabo doesn’t come over, Shegog might survive as Tina Charles’ backup. If so, Sun fans better pray Charles stays healthy.
22. Keisha Hampton, DePaul (Seattle) It’s unclear if Hampton’s game will translate to the WNBA, given her poor shooting, but we’ll most likely have to wait at a year to find out – she has a torn ACL.
23. Shey Peddy, Temple (Chicago) She’s listed at 5-7, which means she’s probably 5-5. That’s pretty tiny for the WNBA, but Peddy has a chance to beat the odds.
24. C’eira Ricketts, Arkansas (Phoenix) Maybe if she makes the roster, I’ll finally remember how to spell her name – but a 26.3% three-point shooter doesn’t look like a good fit in Phoenix.
25. Vicki Baugh, Tennessee (Tulsa) The Shock add yet another power forward to the collection with the first pick of the third round, but it’s somewhat plausible that if the 6-4 Baugh’s knee woes are behind her, she could blossom.
26. Anjale Barrett, Maryland (Washington) There is no reason to believe Barrett can play in the WNBA, but there is reason to believe she’ll generate a couple stories in the D.C. media before she gets cut.
27. Sydney Carter, Texas A&M (Chicago) Another tiny point guard, Carter shot 32.3% from the field last season (just 21.9% from beyond the arc). So at a generously listed 5-6, how will she ever score in the WNBA?
28. April Sykes, Rutgers (Los Angeles) Considered one of the elite players in her high school class, Sykes improved only marginally at Rutgers. It’s a tribute to her potential, though, that she still got drafted.
29. Lynetta Kizer, Maryland (Tulsa) At least Kizer isn’t another Tulsa power forward candidate – but she’s probably not a WNBA player either.
30. Christine Flores, Missouri (Phoenix) A 6-3 forward who discovered there was life beyond the three-point line after her sophomore season, Flores will try to shoot her way into the WNBA.
31. Jacki Gemelos, USC (Minnesota) Potentially one of the top female basketball players of the 21st century, Gemelos is now just a shadow of the brilliant player she once was. Kudos to the Lynx for drafting her, ravaged knees and all.
32. Isabelle Yacoubou, France (Atlanta) The Dream have a history with foreign posts, so Yacoubou’s pick makes some sense. A weird kind of sense, granted, as she’s 25 and doesn’t shine in Europe.
33. Amanda Johnson, Oregon (Phoenix) Corey Gaines worked with Paul Westphal in Phoenix; Westphal coached Johnson at Oregon. Connect the dots . . .
34. Courtney Hurt, Virginia Commonwealth (Indiana) For some reason, some folks thought a 6-0 power forward could make it in the WNBA and projected Hurt as a first-round pick. The Fever had little to lose picking her third-to-last.
35. Briana Gilbreath, USC (Washington) A shining star out of high school, Gilbreath stagnated at USC, though like Sykes, her potential was enough to get her a call on draft day.
36. Katelan Redmon, Gonzaga (New York) The Zags’ second player picked in the draft, putting them ahead of, well, Stanford, among others.
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