We are in the home stretch for the NCAA women’s basketball season. With conference play well underway, now is the time for tournament hopefuls to make their cases for higher seeding or to be included in the Big Dance.
In addition to all the postseason jockeying taking place, it’s prime WNBA scouting season. The draft is about two months away, and with an active trade market this offseason, several teams find themselves with different outlooks on the draft than they had at the end of last season.
Instead of another mock draft, I’ve ranked the top 60 prospects in this year’s draft based on how I believe they’ll turn out as WNBA players.
Here is the ranking from this year’s class:
1. Aliyah Boston, Forward, South Carolina
The 6’5” big is showing everyone once again why she deserves to be the top pick in this year’s draft, and she will likely make an impact in the league right away. In getting some run with Team USA this fall, Boston held her own and has been WNBA ready since last year. Boston is the type of player teams can build around. She has an excellent post-up game and elite rebounding. She won’t put up gaudy stats this season because South Carolina is loaded one through nine, but make no mistake, Boston is the best player in the country. She averages 13.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks. She has a strong basketball IQ to go with an unstoppable motor. Boston will be an immediate favorite for Rookie of the Year the moment she puts on a WNBA uniform.
2. Diamond Miller, Guard, Maryland
At the beginning of the season, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Haley Jones would go second in this year’s draft. But some uneven play from the Stanford senior and some solid senior seasons from other players make the remaining top-five selections after Boston up for debate. Miller’s athleticism and quickness at 6’3” make her a compelling prospect for teams across the board. The Maryland wing has stepped up in several games this year, with notable performances such as a 31-point, 12-rebound game against Notre Dame and an equally impressive 23 points to go with five steals against Michigan. Despite a rough offseason with the transfer portal, Maryland has a good shot at having a deep run in the NCAA tournament, and Miller is a big reason why.
3. Haley Jones, Guard, Stanford
Jones is a big guard capable of playing either guard or small forward in the WNBA. On the surface, the Stanford star’s scoring doesn’t stick out, but her rebounding and playmaking make her the most versatile player in the draft. As evidenced from the first few games this season, Jones has some pretty crafty moves and can read a defense with ease. She’s shooting just 10.7 percent from beyond the arc, which may knock her down a peg for some WNBA teams, but when all is said and done, Jones is still worthy of a lottery pick.
4. Rickea Jackson, Forward, Tennessee
The Mississippi State transfer is having a breakout season for the Lady Volunteers, averaging 18.1 points and 6.0 rebounds. Jackson is playing some of her best basketball as Tennessee finally starts to win at the pace prognosticators expected. She has the ability to create her own shot and can beat most defenders off the dribble. Jackson is one of the more physical players this draft has to offer and has no problem finishing in traffic. Her quickness allows her to stay in front of opposing ball handlers without fouling, and she has the strength to guard a number of positions.
5. Jordan Horston, Guard, Tennessee
Horston is a super athletic wing with the ability to handle the ball and finish at the rim. She has a solid jumper and is a decent size for a wing. You could argue she has more upside than her aforementioned teammate, Jackson, but her unevenness in the last few weeks leads me to put her squarely in the middle of the first round. That being said, her athleticism makes her a great WNBA prospect, capable of becoming a solid rotation player. There are few college players with her ability to get to the rim, and that should serve her well in the pros.
6. Charisma Osborne, Guard, UCLA
Osborne is another player with excellent quickness and an explosive first step to the basket. She has strong ball-handling skills with decent perimeter shooting, making her a fit at either guard position. She also plays great defense, creating difficulties for her opponent without gambling more than she needs to. Despite some recent struggles, she is the second-best playmaker in the draft behind Jones, which should get her a fair amount of attention come draft time.
7. Jacy Sheldon, Guard, Ohio State
If Sheldon played in more games this season, she would likely be higher on this list, but with a limited body of work this year, she’s a bit of an unknown. From what we saw, she played great defense, averaging 5.2 steals per game with several double-digit steal performances. Sheldon is also an efficient shooter, shooting 45.9% from the field in the six games she played. She recently returned, but is under load management due to her time away from the floor. However, teams that can afford to gamble a bit will have no problem taking her and hoping that the Sheldon we saw at the beginning of the season will be the one that shows up for the WNBA in May.
8. Maddy Siegrist, Forward, Villanova
It’s hard to overlook the NCAA leading scorer and say she’s not a first-round pick. Despite flying slightly under the radar because she attends a Big East school that isn’t UConn, she can score from almost any spot on the floor and rebound well for someone her size. Against steeper competition, Siegrist’s level of play doesn’t dip, which bodes well for her future in the WNBA, but she will obviously have to adjust to getting fewer attempts. Assuming she can get in rhythm quickly, she should stick on a WNBA roster this coming season.
9. Celeste Taylor, Guard, Duke
Taylor is a solid scorer who moves well without the ball. In addition, she’s a terrific on-ball defender who uses her athleticism to make things difficult for opposing ball handlers. Taylor has a really high ceiling, especially if she continues improving at the rate she did between her time at Texas and now. Despite having a nice stroke, I’d feel better leaving her as a first-round talent if she scored with a little more consistency. However, her performances against North Carolina State, Clemson, and Syracuse are just a few examples of what she’s capable of as a WNBA prospect.
10. Elizabeth Kitley, Center, Virginia Tech
At 6’6,” Kitley has no problem scoring inside, but she likely won’t get those shots in the pros. She might wind up a lottery pick due to her height, but she will probably struggle against more physical players because she doesn’t play that aggressively inside for someone of her size. Against more skilled defenders, that’s a recipe for getting her shot blocked. Despite dominating many opposing teams without a physical big, Kitley seems to have quiet nights against ranked opponents. She is likely a lock as a first-round pick, but she will struggle to stick on a WNBA roster.
11. Aijha Blackwell, Guard/Forward, Baylor
Blackwell gets lumped into the same bucket as Sheldon as far as potentially being a great WNBA prospect but without enough games to show that. She’s shown flashes of potential, and we know she has impressive athleticism and great agility from end to end, which allow her to rebound and get out on breaks easily. She is also a decent passer for someone her size. It’s hard to evaluate her as a prospect without seeing her on the floor, but some team may take her in the first round simply because of how she performed in Missouri.
12. Ashley Joens, Guard/Forward, Iowa State
Joens surprised many by not declaring for the draft last season. Instead, she has returned to an elite Iowa State team with Final Four aspirations. While her rival down I-80 in Iowa City—Caitlin Clark—receives the glory for her out-of-this-world shooting, Joens is a lethal threat from the perimeter herself. She owns a career three-point shooting percentage of 36.2 percent and has one of the quickest releases in the NCAA. She loves to shoot off the dribble and moves well without the ball. Her draft stock is down due to having limited moves and being a bit slow for a guard while not having the physicality of a forward. However, teams will be hard-pressed to find a player that shoots as well as her in this draft.
13. Madi Williams, Forward, Oklahoma
Williams is a smooth player capable of scoring in bunches as a threat from the midrange and inside. She recently added muscle in the weight-room, which allows her to bully her way inside while making her an above-average rebounder. Williams is the leading scorer for Oklahoma night in and night out.
14. Stephanie Soares, Center, Iowa State
Prior to her ACL injury, Soares trended toward being a first-round talent. Her size and skill around the basket flashed WNBA potential. A team without roster space might take a flier on her earlier than expected due to the ability to suspend her contract, but she has staying power as a backup center once she’s healthy.
15. Ashley Owusu, Guard, Virginia Tech
Think of her as a Rae Burrell-type pick as someone who might slip into the first round despite an injury-plagued season. Owusu doesn’t have much to show for this year, but her past performance indicates backup point guard potential. When healthy, she has great playmaking skills to go with solid three-point shooting.
16. Grace Berger, Guard, Indiana
Smart player with a solid midrange game and great help defense.
17. Taylor Mikesell, Guard, Ohio State
Knock-down shooter playing a starring role for OSU in Sheldon’s absence.
18. Dyaisha Fair, Guard, Syracuse
Explosive player with great range and excellent ball handling.
19. Zia Cooke, Guard, South Carolina
Potential sleeper pick with a burst of athleticism and quickness.
20. Taiyanna Jackson, Center, Kansas
Big post with impressive shot-blocking ability. Stock has skyrocketed over the past few weeks.
21. Lou Lopez Sénéchal, Guard/Forward, Connecticut
Stepped up in a larger role than expected due to a number of key injuries and lands squarely in second-round territory because of it. Could stick on a roster due to work ethic.
22. Alexis Morris, Guard, LSU
A bit undersized but lightning quick and capable of scoring in bunches. Might go higher than many think.
23. Shaylee Gonzales, Guard, Texas
Scoring numbers suffering due to playing in a clogged backcourt, but a surprisingly good rebounder for a guard.
24. Sonya Morris, Guard, Texas
Dynamic scoring guard with strong finishing ability. Needs to get turnovers down to make a roster.
25. Leigha Brown, Guard, Michigan
Solid all-around player with a smooth shooting stroke who is taking over Naz Hillmon’s role as a lead scorer.
26. Hannah Jump, Guard, Stanford
Absolutely deadly shooter has staying power with great consistency and solid range. Quick release translates well to the WNBA.
27. Esmery Martinez, Forward, Arizona
High-motor player who defends every position. Could rocket up draft boards with a strong Pac-12 tournament.
28. Laeticia Amihere, Forward, South Carolina
Super athletic forward capable of playing multiple positions. Will likely get a training camp invite.
29. Kadi Sissoko, Forward, USC
Having a strong breakout season and playing a big role in turning program around.
30. Erynn Barnum, Forward, Arkansas
Dramatic improvement as a high-volume scorer and rebounder. Has staying power playing on the wing.