It’s once again time for the WNBA Draft, but things are going to be different this time around. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the WNBA has postponed the beginning of training camp and the regular season, the latter of which was scheduled originally for May 15.
It’s an interesting experiment for sure, one that will at least tide over fans who have been waiting months for WNBA action to resume. While we wait to learn when — or if — basketball will be played this summer, let’s take a stab at a mock WNBA Draft with all 36 picks.
A year ago, Ionescu faced a life-changing decision: forego her senior year of NCAA eligibility and enter the WNBA Draft or return to Oregon to complete “unfinished business.” Ionescu’s choice to stay in school essentially cemented her status as 2020’s No. 1 overall pick. Ionescu left no doubt that she is the triple-double queen and best player in the NCAA, demanding that she go to 2020 Draft Lottery-winning team. Liberty fans, rejoice. You have your franchise player.
The 2020 class features several draft-eligible juniors whose decisions to leave their respective schools early will heavily impact the draft’s first round. Sabally became the first such domino to fall when she announced her intent to go pro back in February. A 6-foot-4 frontcourt powerhouse, Sabally oozes offensive potential, boasts guard skills with the basketball and is a dependable spot-up jumper. She’d be a key component of Dallas’ rebuild, giving the Wings a versatile scorer with plenty of room to grow.
3. Indiana Fever: Lauren Cox (Baylor)
With the two most talented Ducks off the board, the Fever should be looking for the best player available and Cox is a pretty good candidate. She is arguably the most well-rounded “pure” post player in this class. She has a large, 6-foot-4 frame; she is an elite interior defender; and she possesses a curiously underrated passing touch. It’s easy to imagine Cox having success in a WNBA offense alongside another frontcourt beast like Teaira McCowan.
As a freshman, Carter quickly established herself as one of the country’s top bucket-getters, seemingly destined for WNBA success right off the bat. She decided to leave Texas A&M after her junior season and take a shot at the pros. Carter is the best scoring guard in this class, and the Dream could use another offensive-minded backcourt player, particularly one who also can create shots for others. And Carter is no stranger to this — she owned the lion’s share of the ballhandling (37.3 percent usage as a junior) during her time as an Aggie. She’d be an ideal pick for Atlanta.
5. Dallas Wings: Megan Walker (UConn)
Shortly after the NCAA Tournament was canceled, Walker announced she’d be leaving UConn a year early to compete in the WNBA. Her decision might not end up being as impactful as Sabally’s or Carter’s, but Walker is still almost certain to be selected in the draft’s first round. With 6-foot-0 size and a strong 3-point shot (45.1 percent from deep as a junior), Walker is an attractive choice — especially for a Wings team that attempted just 23 corner threes last season. Walker’s presence would help that dimension of Dallas’ offense.
With Danielle Robinson now in Las Vegas and Odyssey Sims’ status for 2020 still uncertain, the Lynx are looking awfully thin at point guard. There are a number of options for Minnesota here: If Cheryl Reeve isn’t scared off by Dangerfield’s small, 5-foot-5 stature, she’ll be getting a battle-tested guard who can score efficiently (56.1 percent effective field goal percentage) and take care of the basketball (2.27 assist/turnover ratio). Running a WNBA team as a rookie is a tough task, but Dangerfield is well-equipped to handle it.
The third time’s the charm for Cooper. While she enjoyed moderate success at Tennessee and South Carolina, her collegiate career really took off after she transferred to Baylor and found a perfect home in the Lady Bears’ aggressive, uptempo system. The Wings will be getting Moriah Jefferson back this season, but Jefferson hasn’t played since her injury-plagued 2018 season. Drafting a dynamic guard like Cooper to back her up would solidify things in the Wings’ backcourt.
The Sky continue to search for defense and rebounding in their frontcourt, and with two of their post players (Jantel Lavender and the newly-acquired Azurá Stevens) coming off major foot injuries, they could use some depth up front. Mompremier is the most athletic center in this class. Yet, she, too, recently suffered a foot injury (one that forced her to miss half of her senior season). Chicago won’t be asking her to do too much right away. If the Sky pick Mompremier, they can afford to be patient as her offensive game develops, similar to how they’ve brought along Cheyenne Parker.
9. Dallas Wings: Ruthy Hebard (Oregon)
During her time at Oregon, Hebard was one of the most efficient scorers in the country, averaging at least 1.35 points per scoring attempt in each season since 2017-18. Playing with Ionescu and plenty of 3-point shooting kept the lane wide open for Hebard, and her lack of a reliable outside shot may be somewhat of a deterrent to WNBA GMs. Even with this context in mind, Hebard is a dependable finisher in the paint. The Wings might want to give her a look if she’s available, especially after Imani McGee-Stafford announced a hiatus from basketball.
10. Phoenix Mercury: Bella Alarie (Princeton)
Even in a class loaded with frontcourt players, Alarie stands out thanks to a highly skilled spot-up game. Alarie made a name for herself at Princeton as a stretch four who can play within a system and carry a team when necessary (17.5 points and 22.8 points per game as a senior and junior, respectively) — something the Mercury should be taking into account. Alarie won’t be attracting nearly as much attention from defenses in the WNBA as she did in the Ivy League, especially if she’s playing alongside a guard who can get into the paint as easily as the newly-acquired Skylar Diggins-Smith does.
11. Seattle Storm: Tyasha Harris (South Carolina)
Seattle currently isn’t in a position to welcome a new rotation player — Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart should be back and the team recently invested heavily in Morgan Tuck. However, Bird is nearing the end of her career and the Storm need to think about the future. While Jordin Canada performed adequately in Bird’s stead last season, a player like Harris — a tall, defensive-minded game manager — would complement the smaller Canada’s dynamic style of play.
12. Washington Mystics: Joyner Holmes (Texas)
It has been an up-and-down collegiate career for Holmes. While she may not have panned out how Texas fans expected following her strong freshman season, there’s little doubt that she has WNBA-caliber physical tools. Holmes can rebound, defend, pass and dribble, making her a good fit for a team that already has plenty of shooting. She’d also benefit from playing for a coach with as much player development experience as Mike Thibault.
13. New York Liberty: Kaila Charles (Maryland)
With returning players like Asia Durr, Rebecca Allen and Marine Johannes, New York is set to have plenty of shooting. What the Liberty could use, however, is another downhill-playing athlete on the perimeter, and Charles fits the bill. She’s difficult to contain off the dribble and a downright pain to keep off the glass. Her offensive rebounding rate of 12.8 percent ranked higher than those of many much taller players.
14. Indiana Fever: Tynice Martin (West Virginia)
What you see is what you get with Martin: a rangy, explosive wing who can put up points in bunches. Her individual stats took a bit of a hit in her senior campaign as West Virginia struggled in Big 12 play but there’s little doubt that her scoring ability is WNBA-ready. Indiana could use another guard who can create her own shot, especially off the bench. Taking Martin at No. 14 wouldn’t be much of a reach.
Just as South Carolina’s success in 2019-20 did wonders for Harris’ draft stock, Herbert Harrigan’s case as a legit WNBA prospect seems to be solidified. She’s always been a good shot-blocker, but the development of her offensive game (1.16 points per scoring attempt) has likely sealed the deal. Things are crowded in the Wings frontcourt, but they might not want to pass on Herbert Harrigan and her defensive potential.
16. Minnesota Lynx: Kiah Gillespie (Florida State)
Reeve and the Lynx have taken training wheels off Damiris Dantas, who took more than half of her shots from 3-point range (.529 3PAr) last season. Another forward who can shoot the ball would make sense for Minnesota. Sylvia Fowles is still one of the strongest interior forces in the WNBA, and Gillespie is an excellent shooter with her feet set. The two would make a solid pairing. Gillespie is also a better passer than her assist numbers reflect. Switching to a more complementary role as a pro will let her skills shine.
17. Atlanta Dream: Leaonna Odom (Duke)
Odom is one of this class’s wild cards: a 6-foot-2 forward with guard skills and good defensive instincts who, for whatever reason, never blossomed into a star in college. Her mobility and wingspan will get her drafted somewhere in the second or third round, but it’s anyone’s guess as to where. The Dream’s offseason moves suggest they are in win-now mode and may not be interested in a “project.” But Atlanta also has been loading up on athletic frontcourt players (Glory Johnson, Monique Billings), so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them take Odom for development purposes.
18. Phoenix Mercury: Haley Gorecki (Duke)
Duke was one of the ACC’s most surprising teams down the stretch, with Gorecki’s strong play carrying the Blue Devils on multiple occasions. Gorecki led Duke in scoring (18.5), rebounding (6.6), assists (4.4) and steals (2.1), and one can’t help but wonder how she’ll fare on a team that doesn’t need such high-volume play. Gorecki is a headache to keep off the free-throw line. As a senior, she scored 30 percent of her points on free throws, and she ranked 17th in the nation in total free-throw attempts.
19. Seattle Storm: Mikayla Pivec (Oregon State)
Is this too low for the Beavers’ Swiss Army knife? Pivec stuffed the box score during her time at Oregon State, accumulating 14.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game as a senior. While there are questions about how her athleticism will translate to the WNBA, she wouldn’t have to be a heavy-usage player for a Storm team that already has a little bit of everything. Pivec’s nose for the basketball (12 percent offensive rebounding rate) and scoring efficiency (1.14 points per scoring attempt) make her a fail-safe second-round option.
20. Los Angeles Sparks: Kitija Laksa (TTT Riga)
Laksa suffered a knee injury early in her senior season at South Florida, essentially taking one of the deadliest shooters in the country off the radar. She opted to go pro after that and struggled for TTT Riga in EuroLeague Women play. Let’s not forget, though, that Laksa shot 38.2 percent on a whopping 9.7 3-point attempts per game in her last full collegiate season. She’ll definitely be worth a look as the draft class begins to thin out.
21. Dallas Wings: Jazmine Jones (Louisville)
The term “combo guard” sometimes can have negative connotations. In Jones’ case, it’s a compliment. She has the size (6’0”) to defend the perimeter, shooting efficiency (56.4 percent effective field goal percentage as a senior) and better-than-adequate secondary playmaking skills. With all the dynamic talent soon to be on the Wings roster, Jones would make for a safe, plug-and-play pick.
22. Los Angeles Sparks: Chante Stonewall (DePaul)
Due to her long arms and obviously massive wingspan, Stonewall entered the 2019-20 season as an intriguing prospect but also a bit of a long shot. One Big East Defensive Player of the Year campaign later and Stonewall has the numbers (and hardware) to match her potential. This 6-foot-1 athletic thief (2.2 steals per game) is sure to give competing players fits in training camp.
The ACC’s leading scorer in 2019-20, Willoughby is among the most physical guards in this class. Twenty-nine percent of her points came from free throws, and her 92 total free throw trips ranked 19th in the nation. Willoughby also shot 41.6 percent on 3-pointers as a senior (after shooting 39.8 percent as a junior). She is well-equipped to do battle against WNBA defenses.
24. Washington Mystics: Juicy Landrum (Baylor)
We know that Mike Thibault likes his shooters, and Landrum is one of the best in this class. She shot 42.3 percent from 3-point range on 4.3 attempts per game as a senior at Baylor. Landrum’s sharpshooting skills were punctuated by a ridiculous 14-of-23 performance from behind the arc last December against Arkansas State. Landrum also took great care of the basketball in 2019-20, boasting a 2.58 assist/turnover ratio.
It’s a shame we didn’t get to see Johnson play in the NCAA Tournament. The stats she put up as a Rider senior in the MAAC were video game-like: 24.8 points per game (first in the country), 2.9 steals per game and 214 total free throws attempted. To say she carried the Broncs would be a massive understatement. How will this usage translate to the WNBA? There doesn’t seem to be much of a consensus on that but Johnson’s herculean individual efforts are sure to land her somewhere come draft day.
26. New York Liberty: Brittany Brewer (Texas Tech)
Brewer was outstanding as a senior, averaging a double-double (16.6 points and 10.3 rebounds) while bringing elite help defense. Her 4.4 blocks per game ranked second in the nation, while her 11.4 percent block rate ranked 12th. She also played some of her best basketball against Baylor, which is a key test for any Big 12 player. Don’t sleep on Brewer as a second- or third-round pick who could potentially make a WNBA roster.
Harris projects to be a frontcourt player who is still a bit raw offensively but her effortless athleticism and shot-blocking should at least earn her a look. Unlike some of the late bloomers in this class, we’ve known for a while that Harris excels at help defense. She has blocked at least three shots per game in three consecutive seasons, with her 8.0 percent block rate as a senior ranking in the 98th percentile.
28. Indiana Fever: Nicki Ekhomu (Florida State)
Ekhomu turned out to be quite the player for Sue Semrau and Florida State, earning All-ACC honors alongside teammate Gillespie. She is known for her appealing burst of speed in the full court and has proved she can run a team as well. Ekhomu averaged 4.9 assists per game as a senior alongside a very respectable 2.03 assist/turnover ratio.
29. Phoenix Mercury: Peyton Williams (Kansas State)
Where would Kansas State be without Williams? The Wildcats’ prized multi-sport athlete was a double-double machine as a senior, averaging 15.4 points and 11.0 rebounds to go along with a 21.2 percent defensive rebounding rate. Williams probably won’t be on a WNBA roster on opening day, but her size and durability (35.3 minutes per game as a senior) will make her a worthy addition to anyone’s training camp roster.
Iowa may have lost Big Ten legend Megan Gustafson to graduation, but the Hawkeyes remained one of the conference’s better teams and Doyle was a significant part of that. There’s no doubt she can distribute — her 36.1 percent assist rate ranked 16th in the country. Additionally, Doyle’s scoring took a major leap as a senior. She averaged 18.1 points per game with 27 percent of them coming from free throws. Doyle will be great competition for whichever guards she’s in training camp with.
31. Seattle Storm: Borislava Hristova (Washington State)
Hristova was one of the highest-volume scorers in the country as a senior, averaging 18.4 points on a 30.3 percent usage rate. Washington State’s season was nothing to write home about, however, with Hristova being the lone bright spot. Perhaps the 6-foot-0 wing player can make an impact in a lower-volume role in Seattle’s training camp.
32. Chicago Sky: Kylee Shook (Louisville)
Shook’s contributions to Louisville might not have been as loud as those of Evans or James but her effectiveness as a defensive-minded rebounding forward was undeniable. The 6-foot-4 Shook has plenty of size and ranked among the nation’s top shot blockers as a senior. She’d make a good addition to the Sky’s training camp roster, given the instability of Chicago’s frontcourt situation.
33. Las Vegas Aces: Minyon Moore (Oregon)
Yes, there are more than three Ducks who are draft-eligible. Moore wasn’t considered to be one of Oregon’s stars but she filled an important role as the team’s secondary distributor and defensive pest. She took incredible care of the basketball as a senior — her assist/turnover ratio of 4.19 ranked third in the country — and she also ranked in the 96th percentile in steal rate. Bill Laimbeer would love to have in his training camp a steady-handed guard who gets after it on the defensive end.
34. Los Angeles Sparks: Erica Ogwumike (Rice)
There’s no way the Sparks pass up on adding yet another Ogwumike, right? While she doesn’t have the height of older sisters Nneka and Chiney, Erica Ogwumike has the trademark family athleticism — she averaged over 10 rebounds per game for the second straight season. The Conference USA Player of the Year would have her work cut out for her in a loaded Sparks camp but the family reunion story alone might be enough value for a late third-round pick.
35. Connecticut Sun: Shadeen Samuels (Seton Hall)
The athletic Samuels burst onto the Big East scene as a junior, making a name for herself as one of the conference’s top scoring guards. She kept up her solid play as a senior, scoring 1.26 points per attempt (buoyed by 62.2 percent accuracy from 2-point range — a terrific mark, especially for a wing) and grabbing 3.4 offensive rebounds per game. She could surprise some in training camp with her finishing ability.
36. Washington Mystics: Jaylyn Agnew (Creighton)
The 2019-20 Big East Player of the Year is as pure of a shooter as anyone in the class. Agnew put up 8.7 3-pointers per game as a senior, making 37.4 percent of them, while chipping in 6.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists for good measure. She rarely got a break, either. Agnew played 37.7 minutes per game as Creighton’s primary offensive threat, showing that her conditioning is excellent.
All statistics in this piece courtesy of Her Hoop Stats.