12 college seniors invited to attend 2014 WNBA Draft

April 12, 2014 - 3:25pm
Though forced to miss much of the latter half of this season due to a knee injury that is expected to leave her unable to play until 2015, Duke's Chelsea Gray was one of 12 college seniors invited to Uncasville to attend Monday's 2014 WBA Draft. (Photo by Jon Gardiner/Duke Photography)

Though forced to miss much of the latter half of this season due to a knee injury that is expected to leave her unable to play until 2015, Duke's Chelsea Gray was one of 12 college seniors invited to Uncasville to attend Monday's 2014 WBA Draft. (Photo by Jon Gardiner/Duke Photography)

NEW YORK, April 10, 2014 – Odyssey Sims of Baylor, winner of the 2014 Wade Trophy as the NCAA Division I Player of the Year, and Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike, this year's Wooden Award winner, a four-time First Team All-American and two-time Pac-12 Player of the Year, headline a list of 12 prospects who will attend the WNBA Draft 2014 presented by State Farm, which will be held on Monday, April 14, at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.  Live coverage of the first round will begin on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. ET. Coverage of the second and third rounds will be televised on ESPNU from 9-10:30 p.m.

Center Stefanie Dolson and guard Bria Hartley will represent the 2014 NCAA Champion Connecticut Huskies, while center Natalie Achonwa and guard Kayla McBride will be on hand for the runner-up Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Rounding out the list players are guards Chelsea Gray (Duke), Shoni Schimmel (Louisville), and Meighan Simmons (Tennessee); forwards Natasha Howard (Florida State) and Alyssa Thomas (Maryland); and center Markeisha Gatling (North Carolina State).

The Connecticut Sun holds the top pick in the draft for the second time in franchise history after garnering the top selection in this year’s WNBA Draft Lottery presented by State Farm, which aired on ESPN’s SportsCenter in December.  Rounding out this year’s top five picks are the Tulsa Shock (second), San Antonio Stars (third), New York Liberty (fourth), and Indiana Fever (fifth).

The left-handed shooting Sims was a consensus All-American and finalist for all major National Player of the Year awards the last two seasons.  A four-time All-Big 12 First Team and three-time All-Defensive Team honoree, Sims’ 1,054 points as a senior were the second highest single-season total in Division I history (Missouri State’s Jackie Stiles,1,062), while her career total of 2,533 points surpassed former Baylor teammate Brittney Griner’s Big 12 record.  

Ogwumike, whose resume also includes three Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors, is the younger sister of Nneka Ogwumike, whom the Los Angeles Sparks made the No. 1 overall selection in the 2012 Draft.  Chiney entered the recent Final Four as the only Division I player to rank among the top 10 in the nation in scoring (third), field goal percentage (fourth), double-doubles (fourth), and rebounding (ninth), and leaves Stanford as the Pac-12’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder.

Dolson and Hartley, a pair of AP All-American Second Team picks – as well as roommates for the past three years at Connecticut – helped the Huskies to four straight Final Four appearances and were key contributors during each of the past two seasons as UConn won consecutive national titles, raising the school’s total to a record nine championships.  In 2014, both were finalists for multiple National Player of the Year awards and members of the All-American Athletic Conference First Team.  Dolson also was named the AAC’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Achonwa and McBride helped the Irish to a berth in the NCAA Championship Game in each of the past three seasons.  As seniors, the duo led Notre Dame to the first undefeated regular season in program history and to a third-straight regular-season conference title (BIG EAST crowns in 2012 and 2013, and an Atlantic Coast Conference title this season).  Achonwa, an AP All-America Second Team pick, ranked third in Division I in field goal percentage as a senior, while McBride earned a spot on the AP’s All-American First Team and was voted by ACC coaches as the league’s 2014 ACC Player of the Year.

Gatling led all Division I players in field-goal percentage (.663) and was an All-America Honorable Mention pick (AP) and All-ACC First Team selection.  She leaves NC State as the school’s all-time career leader in field goal percentage (.628).  Gray, despite having the past two seasons cut short by knee injuries, earned Co-ACC Player of the Year honors as a junior and All-America Honorable Mention (AP) as a senior.  At the time of her injury in January, she was sixth in Division I in assists and was just 35 shy of Duke’s career record.  Howard ranks as the Seminoles’ all-time leader in rebounds (1,047), is No. 2 in both points (1,811) and double-doubles (41), and No. 3 in blocks.  She capped her senior season as a finalist for the Wade Trophy and was selected to both the All-ACC First Team and All-Defensive Team.

Schimmel finished her Louisville career with 387 made three-point shots, five shy of the Division I mark of 392 held by Kansas State’s Laurie Koehn.  The first player in Cardinals’ history with 2,000 points and 500 rebounds, Schimmel was an All-America Second Team pick and an All-American Athletic Conference First Team honoree as a senior.  Simmons was voted by AP as the Southeastern Conference’s Player of the Year as a senior (AP), one year after being named Co-Player of the Year by the conference’s coaches along with A’dia Mathies.  She finished her Tennessee career as the fifth Lady Vol in history with 2,000+ points, joining such luminaries as Chamique Holdsclaw, Candace Parker, and Tamika Catchings.  Thomas, a four-time All-American, three-time ACC Player of the Year, and a candidate for multiple national Player of the Year awards, joined former Duke star Alana Beard as the only players to follow up ACC Rookie of the Year accolades with three straight ACC Player of the Year honors (2012-14). As a senior, Thomas led Division I with four triple-doubles, bringing her career total to seven.

Last year, the excitement generated by the “3 to See” -- Baylor’s Brittney Griner, Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne, and Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins -- made the 2013 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm one of the most followed drafts in league history.  Delle Donne, selected No. 2 overall by the Chicago Sky, went on to earn the WNBA Rookie of the Year award and was the first rookie in history to lead all vote-getters for the WNBA All-Star Game presented by Boost Mobile.  Griner, taken by the Phoenix Mercury with the top pick, and Diggins, selected third by the Tulsa Shock, each earned a place on the All-Rookie Team.

This year’s telecast will also be available on computers, smartphones, tablets, Xbox, Apple TV and Roku via WatchESPN to fans who receive their video subscription from an affiliated provider.

Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn. is the home of the Connecticut Sun and has hosted the WNBA All-Star Game three times (2005, 2009, and 2013).

FullCourt.com will provide full draft coverage.

The players invited to attend the 2014 WNBA Draft  are:

Name College/University Position Height
Natalie Achonwa Notre Dame Forward 6-3
Stefanie Dolson
Connecticut Center 6-5
Markeisha Gatling North Carolina State Center 6-5
Chelsea Gray Duke Guard 5-11
Bria Hartley Connecticut Guard 5-8
Natasha Howard Florida State Forward 6-3
Kayla McBride Notre Dame Guard 5-11
Chiney Ogwumike Stanford Forward 6-4
Shoni Schimmel Louisville Guard 5-9
Meighan Simmons Tennessee Guard 5-9
Odyssey Sims Baylor Guard 5-8
Alyssa Thomas Maryland Forward 6-2

Source: WNBA Press Release