W Draft preview

Courtesy of Twitter LaChina Robinson

The 2021 WNBA Draft will be held Thursday, April 15. Because the NCAA granted an extra year of college eligibility to players, all seniors—nearly 50 players for the first time—had to “opt-in” for the three-round draft. 

Dallas has the No. 1, 2, 5 and 7 picks. If the Wings keep the first two picks, they will become the first WNBA club ever to select the top two picks, and could become the first team to pick four first-rounders as well.

“Whether we keep all the picks or not, who knows,” Dallas President Greg Bibb told reporters, including the MSR, during an April 9 conference call. “But it’s always good to have options.”

Minnesota only has one pick—ninth overall in this year’s draft.

“This class isn’t as strong as maybe last year’s class,” noted ESPN Analyst Rebecca Lobo. She and fellow analyst LaChina Robinson shared their pre-draft thoughts last week.

We asked Robinson if any players improved or diminished their draft stock from their NCAA performances last month. She easily pointed to Arizona’s Aari McDonald.

“I think Aari probably was one of the more underestimated stars coming into the NCAA Tournament,” explained Robinson on the 5’-6” McDonald. “There were some questions about her size coming in… She proved a lot of people wrong around what she was capable of.

“I just thought the way she played on both ends of the floor…definitely helped her draft stock.”

Bibb added, “I think Aari McDonald is an exceptional player who has gotten better each year.”

Robinson also pointed to two players, Rutgers’ Arelia Guirantes and Chelsea Dungee of Arkansas, whose draft stock respectively might have dropped because their teams exited early from the tournament. “I’m sure a lot of the GMs and head coaches would have liked to see them during the prime time of the year for our sport,” she said.

“I do think that she is a high-quality guard,” said Chicago Coach-GM James Wade on Guirantes. He added on Dungee, “I think she has a future in the league.”

Texas 6’-5” forward-center Charli Collier, if solely based on her inconsistent tournament play, might have seen her stock go down a bit. She was projected as a top pick in the 2021 draft coming into the season.

“When you look at Charli, she looks like a WNBA player,” said Lobo. “She’s big and strong, has a great frame, plays really hard. I think when you see her performance against some teams, it makes you take pause a little bit. 

“You also have to understand the system she was playing in. A big is in heaven when they are surrounded by shooters because it gives them space to be able to operate. Charli wasn’t necessarily surrounded by shooters this year,” added Lobo. 

“I think Charli Collier has been in that top group of players and continues to be in that top group of players,” reaffirmed Bibb.

“I think the world of Rennia Davis [of Tennessee],” continued Robinson. “She’s an incredible athlete. She looks like a pro. She has all the assets, the skill set to be a difference-maker.”

The analyst also likes Alabama forward Jasmine Walker “a lot. She may be the best pure shooter in the draft at the wing position.”

As has been the case in recent years, no matter where a rookie is drafted, making a WNBA team roster is harder and harder. There’s just not that many open spots.

“I think it’ll be hard, although not impossible, to make a roster this year,” said Wade.

About Charles Hallman

Charles Hallman is a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. He can be reached at challman@spokesman-recorder.com

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