Now that the 2020-21 women’s college basketball season is over, we finally know which players will be available for the April 15 WNBA draft. With the NCAA general eligibility waiver due to the coronavirus pandemic, seniors can return for another season, and some players who were previously on our draft board have opted to do so. Among the prominent juniors eligible for the draft, one of our projected first-round picks, Evina Westbrook of UConn, will also remain in college for 2021-22.
WNBA coaches and general managers use the NCAA tournament for evaluation and it can sometimes increase a player’s actions. Aari McDonald of Arizona, for example, started at No. 2 in our first mock draft last December, then dropped to No. 8. Her success in March Madness has put her back in the top five.
There is just over a week to go to the draft, which like last year will take place virtually. And things could change before our final drill, especially if Dallas swaps any of their four first-round picks. But that’s how the three rounds are projected a few days after Stanford was crowned national champion. (Note: * indicates draft eligible junior)
1. Dallas Wings: Charli Collier *, C, Texas
Collier is still the first projected pick, but let’s face it: There are questions about how he fared against teams with strong post players and what that means for his professional future. Collier finished the season averaging 19.0 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 51.1% from the field. But in three meetings with Baylor, he averaged 5.7 points and 5.0 rebounds, shooting a combined 5 of 14 (35.7%). He played well in the Sweet 16 upset over seeded No. 2 Maryland (16 points, 11 rebounds) but struggled in the Elite Eight against South Carolina (four points, four rebounds, 2 of 10 shots from the field). After that season-ending loss, Texas coach Vic Schaefer still spoke to Collier, saying, “Whoever gets her, they’ll get an engine, a work ethic. She’s taken us many nights. Obviously the next one. level is a lot [more] physical.”
2. Dallas Wings: Awak Kuier, PF, Finland
Everyone has been wondering what Dallas will do with all of its picks. We’ve been leaning towards the Wings taking Collier and Kuier, who are 6ft 5in. The consensus remains that 19-year-old Kuier has a very bright future and a high ceiling, and as he strengthens he may have an impact on the WNBA. But he will have to adapt to the more physical style in the league. He plays for Ragusa in Italy, averaging 8.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots, and has made 14 3-pointers this season in the Euroleague.
3. Atlanta Dream: Arella Guirantes, SG, Rutgers
He finished with a 30-point game in the Scarlet Knights’ loss to BYU in the first round of the NCAA tournament. She has been a consistent scorer all season, and really her entire career at Rutgers after spending her freshman year at Texas Tech. She finished this season averaging 21.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.2 assists. Guirantes would give the Dream another scorer who can create his own chances and stretch the defense.
4. Indiana fever: Rennia Davis, SF, Tennessee
Davis is 6-2 and can score from many places on the court, as well as defending at a fairly high level. The Fever would probably like to see their three-point shooting improve, but for a team still trying to figure out its identity in Marianne Stanley’s second season, Davis could provide a well-sized multi-dimensional option. He finished his senior season averaging 17.3 points and 8.8 rebounds, but shot only 26% from behind the arc.
5. Dallas Wings: Aari McDonald, PG, Arizona
We’ll see if Dallas looks for a point guard with this selection, and if so, will it be McDonald or Dana Evans from Louisville? McDonald was the star of the NCAA tournament, and he came so close to winning the championship. He had an excellent career and finished his senior season averaging 20.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists. Did your performance in San Antonio elevate your draft stocks? Or did the fact that she shot 5 of 20 in the final against Stanford, the NCAA tournament opponent who knew her best, tone it down? She is an exciting player with great speed and a knack for reaching the free throw line. She is a relentless advocate. Sure, she’s small, but her will is strong and she plays “hungry,” as Arizona coach Adia Barnes put it.
6. New York Freedom: Dana Evans, PG, Louisville
Dallas could go for Evans at No. 5; if not, he could join the Cardinal contingent with the Liberty. Evans was on a losing streak for much of March, but then had 29 points in a Sweet 16 win over Oregon and 24 in an Elite Eight loss to Stanford. She was known for getting ahead in her college career. Former Louisville teammates Asia Durr, Jazmine Jones and Kylee Shook are on the New York roster, although Durr did not play last season due to COVID-19, which for her has had serious lingering effects. But it does mean the Liberties have a good indicator of what kind of player they’ll get from Louisville, because Evans has been one of the best in the school.
7. Dallas Wings: Chelsea Dungee, SG, Arkansas
So here we are, back with another selection of Wings if there are no trades. As long as she’s still available, Dungee’s scoring ability (22.3 points per game in her senior year) probably makes her hard to pass up. Dallas already has a top scoring guard in Arike Ogunbowale, but Dungee could provide another offensive option that can put defenses to the test. It would also be interesting to see the impact Dungee would have with better post players around him.
8. Chicago Sky: Kiana Williams, PG, Stanford
It seems likely Sky will opt for a point guard who can learn from the great Courtney Vandersloot. Williams was the backbone of national champion Stanford this season, leading the Cardinal in scoring (14.0 PPG), assists (3.1 APG) and minutes played (32.3 MPG). He finished his career with 311 triples, the best in the program. He had shooting problems during the Final Four (6 of 20 combined against South Carolina and Arizona) as he looked like he was pushing, so eager to win a title in his hometown. But he still played all 40 minutes in both games, and his overall track record this season was superior.
9. Minnesota Lynx: Jasmine Walker, PF, Alabama
Walker seems to have all the skills you wish to see in a forward, including strong three-point shooting ability. He averaged 19.1 points per game and 9.4 role-playing games this season, and made 78 of 196 attempts from behind the arc (39.8%). After their years of dynasty, the Lynx have been replenishing themselves through the draft, trades and free agency, and a player like Walker could be seen fitting into Minnesota’s style of play.
10. Los Angeles Sparks: Natasha Mack, PF, Oklahoma State
Mack finished this season as the Division I leader in blocked shots (112, 4.0 BPG). That could help the Sparks, who were at the bottom of the league in that category last season. Mack averaged 19.8 points and 12.4 rebounds in his senior year. While he may need to get a bit more versatile offensively, he has plenty of physical tools to work with at 6-4 with a long span.
11. Seattle Storm: Michaela Onyenwere, SF, UCLA
She has moved in our mock draft: as high as No. 7 and as low as No. 13. The question with Onyenwere remains whether her excellent athleticism makes up for her 6-foot tweener size. He averaged 19.1 points and 7.2 rebounds this season, and hit 23 3-pointers, so it’s a part of his game that he can continue to improve. The Storm lost Alysha Clark in free agency, and maybe Onyenwere can find a role as an all-purpose defender like Clark did. If so, it could fill a gap for the defending champs.
12. Las Vegas Aces: DiJonai Carrington, SG, Baylor
Carrington had an impressive final season after transferring from Stanford to Baylor, including leading the Lady Bears in scoring (22 points) in their Elite Eight loss to UConn. He averaged 14.1 points and 4.9 rebounds this season. He’s a big, strong point guard at 5-11 who doesn’t shy away from physical play, which could make him a good fit on Bill Laimbeer’s team.
13. Dallas Wings: Iliana Rupert, C, France
14. Las Vegas Aces: Unique Thompson, PF, Auburn
15. Atlanta Dream: Chelsey Perry, PF, UT Martin
16. Chicago Sky: Lindsey Pulliam, SG, Northwest
17. New York Freedom: Jenna Staiti, C, Georgia
18. Seattle Storm: Shyla Heal, PG, Australia
19. Indiana Fever: Stephanie Watts, SG, North Carolina
20. Connecticut Sun: Destiny Slocum, PG, Arkansas
21. Connecticut Sun: Ivana Raca, SF, Wake Forest
22. Los Angeles Sparks: DiDi Richards, PG, Baylor
23. Seattle Storm: Janelle Bailey, C, North Carolina
24. Indiana Fever: Ciera Johnson, C, Texas A&M
25. New York Liberty: Raquel Carrera, F, Spain
26. Indiana Fever: Selena Lott, PG, Marquette
27. Atlanta Dream: Tiana Mangakahia, PG, Syracuse
28. Los Angeles Sparks: Aaliyah Wilson, SG, Texas A&M
29. New York Freedom: Kysre Gondrezick, PG, West Virginia
30. Connecticut Sun: Jenn Wirth, PF, Gonzaga
31. Indiana Fever: N’dea Jones, PF, Texas A&M
32. Phoenix Mercury: Natalie Kucowski, PF, Lafayette
33. Indiana Fever: Cece Hooks, SG, Ohio
34. Los Angeles Sparks: Aleah Goodman, SG, State of Oregon
35. Seattle Storm: Nancy Mulkey, C, Rice
36. Las Vegas Aces: Micaela Kelly, PG, Central Michigan