The 2019-2020 college hoops season has been an interesting ride so far. We’re now back from the extended holiday breaks and exciting winter tournaments. Teams have used the time away to regroup, recharge, and work out some kinks. The WNBA Draft is now just 3 ½ months away, and some seniors (and eligible juniors) are racing to the finish line to improve their stock.
1.) New York – Sabrina Ionescu
Oregon, 5’11” guard, 2019-20 stats: 15 points per game (PPG), 9.4 rebounds per game (RPG), 9.2 assists per game (APG).
It’s no secret that Sabrina is VERY GOOD and will also probably be the Player of the Year. “Miss Triple-Double” currently looks to be a lock to start her professional career in the Big Apple – but anything can happen. Since the preseason mock was released, the Liberty announced some exciting news … they’ll play in Barclays for the 2020 season. However, they’ve also decided to move on from Katie Smith as their head coach with her successor yet to be announced. With a new staff and system, will Ionescu be the player the Liberty opt for to help turn around a team that has missed the playoffs for the past two seasons? As evidenced in Oregon’s win against the US Women’s National Team, she has a pro-ready game. Her scoring is down this season so far about 5ppg, but that’s not a bad thing being that she has more weapons around her which is reflected by her increased assists. She’s also currently rebounding at a career high of just under 10rpg. New York loves a superstar, and Sabrina seems to be just the one the franchise needs – on and off the court.
2.) Dallas – Chennedy Carter
Texas A&M, 5-7 guard, 2019-20 stats: 23.2 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 3.8 APG
Yes. Chennedy Carter. With recent developments surrounding Skylar Diggins-Smith and the Wings organization, they could be looking to add a point guard should the First Team All-WNBA superstar suits up elsewhere. Carter’s one of the most electrifying scorers in the country, and there’s not a moment she’s afraid of. Normally shooting in the mid 30% range from deep, Carter is experiencing some early season struggles being currently at 22%. However, her willingness to attack enables her the opportunity to create her shot in other areas and still lead the nation as one of the top scorers. Carter is only a junior, and her decision is possibly contingent upon her performance and Texas A&M’s postseason run.
3.) Indiana – Beatrice Mompremier
Miami, 6-4 forward, 2019-20 stats: 16.3 PPG, 10.4 RPG 1.7 BPG
Previously I stated this is where the draft becomes unpredictable. That’s still true. Marianne Stanley has officially been named Head Coach, and she’ll bring years of championship experience (Old Dominion, Washington Mystics). Tamika Catchings’ first draft as GM could see her select a player to add to an already young, but promising roster, or trade for some additional pieces. Beatrice Mompremier from the U makes sense here. She’s one of the most athletic players in this draft class, and she’s a fan of securing the loose balls. Hustle. Strength. Defense. Adding her rebounding ability to complement McCowan in the post could aide in getting the Fever back to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
4.) Atlanta – Lauren Cox
Baylor, 6-4 forward, 2019-20 stats: 11.3 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 3 BPG
Cox has played in only three games this season after suffering a foot injury to start the year. She’s a 1st pick talent, but could conditioning be a concern with two injuries in a six month span? The Dream led the league in blocks last season, and adding Cox will only add to that number — even though they already have more than enough post players. Her ability to defend the paint along with stretching to knock down the long ball (career avg of 32%) will be quite helpful to a team that was at the bottom in offensive output last season.
5.) Phoenix – Crystal Dangerfield
UConn, 5-5 guard, 2019-20 stats: 15.6 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 4 APG
After making it to the Final Four in her first three seasons, will this be her year to lead the Huskies to their 12th National Championship? She’s missed a couple of games due to a minor injury, but that’s not slowing her down. She’s connecting from deep at over 40% — and the majority of these are DEEP shots which fit the Mercury system. The strength for her stature makes it easy to attack and draw the foul where she’s currently connecting on 86% of her shots from the charity stripe. Dangerfield would bring some much needed youth to the Mercury’s already solid backcourt.
6.) Minnesota – Ruthy Hebard
Oregon, 6-4 forward, 2019-20 stats: 17 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 1.6 BPG
Hebard’s scoring the basket at a career high of 71% from the field and she’s increased her production in nearly every category. One of the only traditional post players in this draft class, Hebard does most of her work in the paint which could allow opportunities for the open shooter if Hebard is subjected to double teams. Efficiency and size will be a plus for Cheryl Reeve’s Lynx squad that may still be without Maya Moore next season in Seimone Augustus’ swan song of a season.
7.) Seattle – Mikayla Pivec
Oregon State, 5-10 guard, 2019-20 stats: 15.4 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 5.6 APG
Pivec provides some size at the guard position for the Storm. Averaging nearly a double-double, this will be a solid addition for Seattle as they look to add pieces around the return of a healthy Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird. The Storm are also expected to welcome the services of 2019’s 1st round pick, Ezi Magbegor. While Pivec may not be shouldering a heavy load immediately, she deepens the bench with a reliable scorer at over 57% from the field along with being an efficient facilitator and more than capable rebounder.
8.) Chicago – Kitija Laksa
South Florida, 6-0 forward, 2017-18 stats: 21.1 PPG, 3.4 RPG
Laksa isn’t playing collegiately this season. She opted to go pro instead in her native Latvia for TTT Riga. During her junior year, Laksa was one of the most exciting scorers in the country. As a big guard, Laksa’s ability to knock down the long-range shot will fit right in for a heavy-fire Sky offense.
9.) Dallas – Tynice Martin
West Virginia, 5-11 guard, 2019-20 stats: 15.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.2 SPG
Martin brings an aggressive defense paired with athletic scoring ability. The Wings are an athletic team and love to get up and down the court. Martin’s off to a slower start offensively this season, but those numbers are expected to pick up with Big XII play starting soon. Coach Agler is known as a defensive coach, so she should fit right in to his system and especially so without fouling. She’s currently only racked up six fouls this season, and for a career holds an average of less than 2 fouls per game across 111 contests. That would probably make any coach smile.
10.) Connecticut – Bella Alarie
Princeton, 6-4 forward, 2019-20 stats: 16.9 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 2.6 BPG
Not only is she arguably the Ivy League’s best player, she’s one of the best in the nation. She’s missed some action this season due to minor injuries, but is back to lead the Princeton Tigers. Alarie’s scoring and rebounding have both dipped this season, but it’s due to having more help to shoulder the scoring load. She provides size and, as in previous seasons, often will control the offense. I’ve likened her to Candace Parker or Elena Delle Donne. On a defensive-minded Sun team, Alarie will add extra production on both ends of the court as they look to make another run to the WNBA Finals.
11.) Connecticut – Tyasha Harris
South Carolina, 5-10 guard, 2019-20 stats: 11.7 PPG, 4.6 APG, 3.6 RPG
Tyasha Harris is the leader of a South Carolina team that’s laced with a heralded class of talented freshmen. She’s a pass-first point guard that understands what it means to control the pace, but has gotten more aggressive with her offense in her senior year with knocking it down from deep at a career-high of just under 38%. She’s currently averaging the fewest minutes since her freshman season due to her team’s average scoring margin to start the 2019-20 season. Her assists total has decreased slightly partly due to those early exits. As SEC play begins, expect to see her leading the charge on the court more as the experience will be needed. A pesky defender with quick hands averaging a couple swipes per game, Harris could provide solid ball handling relief for Curt Miller’s starting guards along with softening the checkbook due to potential salary cap issues with his core players.
12.) Washington – Mikiah Herbert-Harrigan
South Carolina, 6-2 forward, 2019-20 stats: 12.6 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 2 BPG
Herbert-Harrigan is a big piece of the much talked about “#BlockParty” and a reason South Carolina is one of the top defensive teams. However, she’s more than defense. Now comfortably shooting nearly 40% from behind the arc, she’s a legitimate threat as a stretch and versatile forward equipped with a seemingly automatic baseline jumper. She’s an undersized post player, but makes up for it with athleticism and hustle plays and is averaging a career best in points and rebounds with. Because of her increased production in rivalry games, tournaments, and against ranked opponents, she has been affectionately dubbed “Tourney Kiki.” Coach Thibault is known for taking unexpected or sleeper picks and developing them into consistent professionals. While calling a recent SC vs. Clemson game, Thibault referenced following her college career since as early as her sophomore year. With the fast-paced style of play that we know the Mystics for and which led them to their first WNBA Championship, Herbert-Harrigan could be the latest on his list.
Other potential (senior) first-round picks: Chante Stonewall (DePaul), Erica Ogwumike (Rice), Japreece Dean (UCLA), Te’a Cooper (Baylor), Kaila Charles (Maryland), Joyner Holmes (Texas), and Kiah Gillespie (Florida State). All are players expected to be taken in the draft and could build their case to be taken in the first round with impressive finishes to their respective seasons.