The WNBA Fan’s Watch Guide For The 2020-21 College Basketball Season

The 2021 WNBA Draft has the potential to be the strangest one in league history. The NCAA is allowing all players an extra year of eligibility, so we really have no idea which college players will end up taking that extra year and wind up not taking part in the draft. It’s a situation that will likely remain fluid all the way until March.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t start scouting for the draft, crossing our fingers and hoping that the players we’re watching end up in the W in 2021. And that’s something I plan to do a lot of this college season: scout players, watch film, and try to make some sense of it all for you all here at Winsidr.

As a kind of introduction to that, I’ve decided to present a tentative schedule of what I see as the biggest games for WNBA fans to watch this season when it comes to watching for draft prospects. You’ll notice some notable teams like South Carolina missing from this list because none of the Gamecocks players are expected to be part of the 2021 WNBA Draft. We’re solely looking at players who are 2021 prospects.

For the most part, the focus here is on seniors. There’s a fun junior class, but as far as I can tell, most of the top names in that class — Kentucky’s Rhine Howard, UConn’s Christyn Williams and Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Baylor’s NaLyssa Smith — won’t meet the WNBA’s age requirement to declare early. The notable exception in terms of juniors who should meet draft eligibility requirements is Texas center Charli Collier, who projects to be a lottery pick if she declares.

Anyway, let’s start talking about some key games! I’m only featuring games in which BOTH teams have at least one player who I consider a 2021 WNBA Draft prospect. This is also not a complete list, as it’s missing Big 10 teams, as those schedules weren’t finalized at the time this piece was written. Keep an eye on Rutgers wing Arella Guirantes and Northwestern guard Lindsey Pulliam, whenever they face off.

 

December 4th: UCLA at Arizona

Prospects To Watch: Michaela Onyenwere (UCLA) and Aari McDonald (Arizona)

Onyenwere averaged 18.9 points per game last year for the Bruins, as well as 8.5 rebounds per contest. She’ll likely play the 3/4 this year, but can also give them minutes as a small ball five. Not a great shooter from distance, which could hurt her stock this year unless she’s able to improve there, but she did shoot over 50% inside the arc, ranking in the 77th percentile in points per possession on post-ups. If she can improve her spot-up shooting, the sky’s the limit.

McDonald is probably the top point guard prospect in a draft that just isn’t quite as strong at the position as the 2020 one was. 81st percentile in transition and 91st in pick-and-roll ball handler situations, but wasn’t quite as efficient when spotting up. McDonald will need to improve when playing off the ball this year.

 

December 4th: Louisville at UConn Canceled due to COVID cases at UConn

Prospects To Watch: Dana Evans (Louisville) and Evina Westbrook (UConn)

 

December 6th: Texas A&M at Texas

Prospects To Watch: N’dea Jones (Texas A&M) and Charli Collier (Texas)

Jones is getting some chatter as a second round pick. Why? Because she’s got some great touch inside, shooting 48.4% from the floor last year, which ranked in the 88th percentile. She’s one of the nation’s best rebounders, averaging 11.7 per game last year, which ranked ninth in the country. She was 12th in rebounding rate and 33rd in defensive win shares.

Collier might be my favorite prospect this year, which is a problem considering she’s only a Junior and there’s no guarantee that she ends up declaring for the draft. But she’s a stretch five who shot 35.4% from three last season while also grabbing 10.5 rebounds and blocking 1.3 shots per contest. Her combination of size, defense, and shooting might be unmatched in this class, and there are a few teams in this year’s lottery who could really, really use Collier. She’ll need to cut down on her 2.9 fouls per game, though.

 

December 13th: Tennessee at Texas

Prospects To Watch: Rennia Davis (Tennessee) and Charli Collier (Texas)

A 6’2’’ wing, Davis has some great size that should help her stick in the W. Her three-point shooting numbers have really bounced around over the years, hitting a peak of 37% as a Sophomore before falling to 29.6% last year. Even with struggles there, she averaged 18 points per game, plus averaged 8.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per contest. Davis has the ability to play the three or the four, which is another solid plus in her favor.

 

December 31st: Tennessee at Texas A&M

Prospects To Watch: Rennia Davis (Tennessee) and N’dea Jones (Texas A&M)

 

January 14th: Oregon at Arizona

Prospects To Watch: Erin Boley (Oregon) and Aari McDonald (Arizona)

Boley is the big name left in Oregon after Sabrina Ionescu, Satou Sabally, and Ruthy Hebard headed to the WNBA, and honestly — I don’t know exactly what to think of her when it comes to projecting her game forward. Because of all the other pieces on this team, Boley had just a 15.8 usage rate last year. She shot 44.1% from three, but we really have to see if she can be more than just a spot up threat. She scored in the 98th percentile on spot ups last year, which took up 40.4% of her offensive possessions. Let’s see how she handles things without other stars around her.

 

January 17th: Texas at Texas Tech

Prospects To Watch: Charli Collier (Texas) and Vivian Gray (Texas Tech)

Gray — a Senior transfer from Oklahoma State — has been getting mocked as an early second rounder some places. She’s been an elite scorer the last two years, shooting especially well from outside, though her 37.6% mark inside the arc last year is concerning. A really good passer from the small forward spot who has quick hands to poke away steals, Gray isn’t a lock to end up in the WNBA Draft conversation, but if she can finish better inside in her final collegiate season, she’ll be drafted.

 

January 21st: UConn at Tennessee

Prospects To Watch: Evina Westbrook (UConn) and Rennia Davis (Tennessee)

Westbrook is the other draft-eligible Junior that we’ll be discussing. The 6’0’’ point guard has played since the 2018-19 season when she was in Tennessee, so first off, let’s hope this game happens, because #RevengeGame. Anyway, Westbrook struggled defensively last time she was playing, but was an 87th percentile scorer on spot ups and a solid pick-and-roll player. She wasn’t great in transition, but has the size and speed to excel on that end. Still, after a year off, we have to make a lot of projection when talking about Westbrook’s game.

 

January 27th: Texas at Oklahoma State

Prospects To Watch: Charli Collier (Texas) and Natasha Mack (Oklahoma State)

Mack has played just one year in Division I, transferring to Oklahoma State last year from Angelina College. She posted some eye-popping numbers: 17.6 points on 51.6% shooting plus 12.5 rebounds per game. She was 18th in the country in defensive win shares. 11th in PER. I’m fairly high on Mack, as I think she can be a fairly strong player inside even if she never develops range to her game.

 

January 30th: Texas Tech at Texas

Prospects To Watch: Charli Collier (Texas) and Vivian Gray (Texas Tech)

 

January 31st: Arizona at UCLA

Prospects To Watch: Michaela Onyenwere (UCLA) and Aari McDonald (Arizona)

 

See Also

February 1st: Syracuse at Louisville

Prospects To Watch: Tiana Mangakahia (Syracuse) and Dana Evans (Louisville)

Mangakahia last played in the 2018-19 season, missing last season after being diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2019. If she’s able to return to her former level of play, Syracuse will be getting back an elite offensive talent who averaged 16.9 points and 8.4 assists per game that season. She shot 37.1% from three. She’s potentially the best point guard in the nation, especially if we emphasize the playmaking part of playing point guard.

While we’re discussing point guards, let’s talk Dana Evans. The Louisville guard can shoot the lights out of the basketball, hitting 43.1% of her threes last year while averaging 18 points per contest. A 97th percentile spot up shooter, there’s not really much offensively she has to improve on. Defense is a question, but overall Evans feels like a solid prospect.

 

February 7th: Arizona at Oregon

Prospects To Watch: Erin Boley (Oregon) and Aari McDonald (Arizona)

 

February 10th: Oklahoma State at Texas

Prospects To Watch: Charli Collier (Texas) and Natasha Mack (Oklahoma State)

 

February 14th: Louisville at Syracuse

Prospects To Watch: Tiana Mangakahia (Syracuse) and Dana Evans (Louisville)

 

February 14th: Texas at Baylor

Prospects To Watch: Charli Collier (Texas) and DiDi Richards + DiJonai Carrington (Baylor)

Richards is currently out with a spinal injury, but if she returns this year and is back to full strength, she’s the best on-ball defender in the nation. She’s supposed to play point guard this season; if she’s able to adapt as a playmaker and shooter to such an important position in Kim Mulkey’s system, she’ll be well on her way to a long term WNBA future. Again, her defense is just impossibly good.

Carrington is a transfer from Stanford who was limited to just five games because of injury last year. When healthy in the 2018-19 season, Carrington averaged 14 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. She excels in transition, but has to improve her jump shooting in the half court. By the time this game rolls around, we’ll likely know a lot more about her WNBA prospects.

 

March 1st: Baylor at Texas

Prospects To Watch: Charli Collier (Texas) and DiDi Richards + DiJonai Carrington (Baylor)

 

 

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