5 WNBA Draft Hopeful to Watch

[Draft updates: Charli Collier was the No. 1 pick.]

Teams from the WNBA demonstrate versatility, two-way play, and players’ scores in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament with skills, basketball IQ, and strength to succeed in professional ranks on both sides of the floor.

A number of players expected to be selected in the draft WNBA on Thursday night deepened the tournament and competed in the later stages of the big round to prove their readiness. However, teams that made early exits were left with hopes that their individual performances were strong enough to be missed – or that a subpar outing would not overshadow an otherwise impressive collegiate career.

Here’s a look at the five players who either didn’t last long or didn’t make it to this year’s tournament, but could be one of 36 drafted on Thursday night. The 12 teams in the league each allowed just 12 roster spots, even a slimmer number would make the Opening Day roster.

The Razorbacks’ exit in the first round of the tournament was not a reflection of 5-foot-11 guard Chelsea Dunge. His game-high 27 points showed his high-scoring collegiate career, but he came into a game in which the opposing team, Wright State, hit 50 percent of his 3-pointers (31.8 percent of the Razorbacks) 66–62. win.

During his 2020–21 senior season, Dungey scored in double figures in all 27 games. He scored 30 points or more in 12 matches in his career, Most in team history. Free throws are an important part of his offensive repertoire; He exploits mismatches, being dishonest and making 80.2 percent of his shots from the line.

Against Wright State, he made 14 free throws on 18 attempts – fitting for the leading free-throw shooter in Arkansas history. She set a record for free throws (552) in just three seasons – with Dunke dropping out of the 2017–18 season due to NCAA transfer rules – emphasizing her sharpshooting game. The record was peaked at 485 by Betty Fiscus in the 1980s.

If a dogged defender who has named himself by rounding up the rebels and otherwise wants a WNBA team to turn the defense into an offense, it should look no further than N’dea Jones.

Setting a new season in which he averaged just six minutes per game, Jones was Texas A&M’s biggest double-double threat, averaging 10.1 points and 11.1 rebounds a game in his final three seasons. Jones’ aggressive production climbed from year to year, including the coronovirus epidemic in the 2020–21 season. He prepared his 1,026th career board as a senior as the team’s career leader. He finished with 1,056 after 33 as a freshman only.

Jones’ double-double effort against Troy to open this year’s tournament was followed by a 9-point, 14-rebound performance that helped the Aggies advance past Iowa State in the Round of 16. The Texas A&M tournament ended there against a formidable opponent: Arizona, the eventual tournament runner-up, led by point guard Ari Macdonald.

Sometimes the box score does not reveal the absolute truth, and so it goes for 6-4 center Kasiana Kushtakua, who averaged 6.8 points and 6 rebounds per game as a senior at Tennessee.

Even starting only 23 out of his 100 career games, Kushtakuta began to carve a niche for himself as an agile elder. His ability to disrupt opponents’ offensive plans was central to him; If she failed to record a steal or a block, she could reliably force opponents to scrimp, leading to a turnover. And if the ball ends up in his hands, he can use his impressive speed to score at the break.

The 3-point shot is not in his arsenal, but he made up half of his field goals. If she can improve her 47.5 percent of free-throw shooting and maintain a hunger for offensive rebels – who account for more than a third of her total career rebels – she will be the center of any WNBA team seeking depth. Can create an important paint appearance for. In Tennessee’s first-round win against Middle Tennessee, Kushtakuta scored 10 points and caught eight boards, five of which were off the offensive glass.

Commonly referred to as the pull-up Pulliam due to her effortless and reliable midrange shot, Lindsey Pulliam was the fastest player to reach 1,000 points in northwest women’s basketball history. A 5–10 guard, he averaged 16.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2 assists per game in his college career. Her career average 37.9 percent from the field, 26.6 percent from 3-point range and 75.6 from the free-throw line may not be the best in her draft class, but she has quickly demonstrated that she can perform Cesarean in the biggest moments, Whatever his team needs:

With a game-and-season-high 28 points, Pulliam led the Wildcats to a double-digit victory on January 21; A week later, in a road game against Iowa, he converted 12 of his 16 free-throw attempts and helped Northwestern to a 7-point win.

On defense, Pulliam secured 10 rebellions against Ohio State (to go with 15 points) in early February, giving Northwest a 12-point win. His four steals against Eastern Kentucky in December helped the Wildcats score 40 points from turnovers and 28 at the fast break on their way to a 28 point win.

Overcoming a loss of 18 points but eventually losing to Florida in the first round of the Southeastern Conference tournament, Auburn was invited to the NCAA Tournament, going 6-3 and making Youick Thompson a national stage.

Despite the loss, Thompson contributed his double to his final collegiate outing with 14 points and 10 rebounds. In 2020-21, she was one of two players to record two games of 20-plus points and 20-plus rebounds. As a junior in the 2019–20 season, he surpassed WNBA All-Star Davana Bonner for the most three times in team history after finishing his 21st double-double of the season and 41st in his career.

If Thompson could improve his 66.3 percent of free-throw shooting, he would consolidate an otherwise stale game with 52.8 percent shooting from the field. With the ability to clean offensive glass – Thompson gathers 43 percent of his rebels on the offensive side of the floor – he is set to compete in the most competitive league in the world. Even without running a national tournament, Thompson is ready for a first-round draft selection.

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