WNBA draft

With scouting reports from Aneela Khan (@whoopsblogger), Katie Nelson (@Katie_Nelson40), Tiffany Davis (@tiffscribes), Tyler Evans (@wnbahoops), and Eric Nemchock (@nemchocke).

Meet the players drafted in the first two rounds of the 2018 WNBA draft.

Round 1

A’Ja Wilson

A’Ja Wilson - Las Vegas Aces

6’5" | Forward / Center | South Carolina

Las Vegas is counting on their Ace in the middle, consensus 2018 National Player of the Year and 3-time SEC POY A’ja Wilson.

Strengths

Wilson can not only block shots and rebound, but she is adept at driving to the basket as well as reading open teammates to get them the ball.

Fit with new team

Wilson is expected to make an impact right away for the relocated franchise formerly known as the San Antonio Stars, alongside 2017’s underutilized no. 1 pick Kelsey Plum and veterans Tamera Young and Carolyn Swords, both recent off-season trade acquisitions.


Kelsey Mitchell

Kelsey Mitchell - Indiana Fever

5’8” | Guard | Ohio State University

Mitchell finished her illustrious career at Ohio State as the 2nd all-time leading scorer in NCAA women’s basketball history, as well as its most prolific 3-point shooter.

Strengths

Her deep range, quick release, and creativity with the basketball make her a threat to score from anywhere, and she has the explosiveness to get to the rim and finish through contact.

Fit with new team

A shoot-first point guard at OSU, Mitchell will likely be splitting her minutes between both backcourt positions as Pokey Chatman’s Fever begin their rebuild.


Diamond DeShields

Diamond DeShields - Chicago Sky

6’1” | Guard | Cukurova (Turkey)

A physically gifted wing, DeShields will be joining the Sky after spending the winter playing pro ball in Turkey.

Strengths

Her length and court vision make her a tough check in transition, and the elevation she gets on her jumper gives her bailout shotmaking ability.

Fit with new team

DeShields has one of the higher ceilings in this draft class, and the extra overseas experience should be of great benefit to her as she brings her playmaking to the WNBA.


Gabby Williams

Gabby Williams - Chicago Sky

5’11” | Forward | UConn

One of the more versatile prospects in the draft, Williams brings a swiss-army knife skillset to both ends of the floor.

Strengths

Her unique blend of length, athleticism, and instincts made her the perfect anchor for Geno Auriemma’s UConn machine.

Fit with new team

Williams will probably be asked to play more on the perimeter in the WNBA, where she’ll thrive most in uptempo games.


Jordin Canada

Jordin Canada - Seattle Storm

5’6” | Guard | UCLA

This season’s PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Jordin Canada is a stellar playmaker on both ends of the floor.

Strengths

Canada has outstanding ball handling and passing skills, along with her ability to steal the ball and create turnovers.

Fit with new team

She will be mentored by WNBA legend Sue Bird and will look to create a strong backcourt partnership with Jewell Loyd.


Azura Stevens

Azura Stevens - Dallas Wings

6’6” | Forward | UConn

Azura Stevens was one of the best redshirt juniors and was highly efficient even when coming off the bench on a very strong Connecticut team this past season.

Strengths

Azura Stevens has great length and can attack the basket or shoot from the mid-range area.

Fit with new team

Will be expected to contribute right away, and Dallas will be looking for her to help shore their defense alongside Liz Cambage and Glory Johnson.


Ariel Atkins

Ariel Atkins - Washington Mystics

5’11” | Guard | Texas

The Big 12 first team and Big 12 defensive team guard, Ariel Atkins has gotten better every single season.

Strengths

Ariel Atkins is a great shooter and has improved her shooting percentages to be efficient wherever she gets the ball.

Fit with new team

Her new role on the Mystics team will help improve the bench and provide relief for the starting guards. She may also be given the opportunity to become a starter later this season.


Victoria Vivians

Victoria Vivians - Indiana Fever

6’1” | Guard/Forward | Mississippi State

This 3-time All-SEC first-team honoree has been the face of Mississippi State during their rise into the NCAA’s upper echelon.

Strengths

A gifted scorer, Vivians can stretch defenses well beyond the 3-point line, using her size to shoot over smaller defenders and her skill to drive past larger ones.

Fit with new team

She’ll give the Fever an offensive boost no matter where they choose to play her on the floor, whether it be as a big guard or a stretch forward.


Lexie Brown

Lexie Brown - Connecticut Sun

5’9” | Guard | Duke

2018’s ACC Defensive Player of the Year, Brown was also 2nd in points per game in the ACC.

Strengths

Brown is an excellent 3 point shooter, a great all-around guard, and a vocal team leader.

Fit with new team

She may see limited minutes behind Jasmine Thomas, but also could break through to share the backcourt with Thomas as well.


Kia Nurse

Kia Nurse - New York Liberty

6’0” | Guard | UConn

Canadian National team member, Nurse was the AAC Defensive Player of the Year.

Strengths

A strong leader and all-around player, Nurse makes everyone around her better.

Fit with new team

Nurse will have to earn her minutes behind Epiphanny Prince, but could prove an important bench player for a team that needs more offense.


Maria Vadeeva

Maria Vadeeva - Los Angeles Sparks

6’4” | Center | Russia

Masha Vadeeva is the youngest member of the 2018 WNBA Draft class at the age of 19 and has the most potential to be useful down the road.

Strengths

Vadeeva is great at being physical down low and is a presence both offensively and defensively. She has a great back to the basket game and can shoot the ball from 15 feet.

Fit with new team

Vadeeva will be expected to come off the bench and help relieve the Spark’s post players such as Candace Parker and Nneka Oguwmike.


Marie Gülich

Marie Gülich - Phoenix Mercury

6’5” | Center | Oregon State University

German native, 2018 PAC 12 co-DPOY, and two-time All-PAC 12 member. Gülich increased her draft stock by leading the Beavers to the Elight Eight during the 2018 NCAA Tournament.

Strengths

A left-handed player who shoots right, Gülich is a dangerous defensive presence in the post who can also score (she ended her 4-year career at Oregon State as 3rd in school history for blocks; 4th in field goal percentage; and 5th in rebounds).

Fit with new team

Gülich will provide defensive help for Mercury star center Brittney Griner, whether as a second option or in a twin-towers scenario, and can also help the team in scoring.


Round 2


1. Jaime Nared - Las Vegas Aces

6’2” | Guard / Forward | Tennessee

Nared, the 2018 Cheryl Miller Award finalist and All-SEC First Team member who put the Lady Vols on her back when her team didn’t show up, brings her blue-collar work ethic to the Aces.

Strengths

Free-throw specialist Nared is a strong rebounder and defender who has no problem making the extra play, whether it’s diving for loose balls or setting her teammates up for success.

Fit with new team

Nared will give the Aces a boost on perimeter defense and at the charity stripe, and will work well with Kelsey Plum and A’Ja Wilson as both another scoring option and a backup post player.


2. Stephanie Mavunga - Indiana Fever

6’3” | Forward | Ohio State University

After beginning her collegiate career at North Carolina and finishing it at Ohio State, Mavunga returns home to Indiana, where she was once one of the nation’s top high school players.

Strengths

A relentless rebounder, Mavunga owns the glass with second and third efforts and runs the floor better than the majority of post players her size.

Fit with new team

She’ll be competing with posts Erica McCall and Kayla Alexander for minutes in a Fever frontcourt that needs its young players to carve names for themselves.


3. Monique Billings - Atlanta Dream

6’4” | Forward | UCLA

A regular All-Pac 12 performer, the lithe Billings joins the Dream after racking up a multitude of awards and double-doubles as a Bruin.

Strengths

Billings brings exceptional athleticism to the table, attacking the boards with her remarkable vertical leap and creating havoc on the defensive end with long arms and quick feet.

Fit with new team

She’ll fit nicely in Atlanta, where post players are expected to run the floor and benefit from easy opportunities created by Angel McCoughtry.


4. Kristy Wallace - Atlanta Dream

5’11” | Guard | Baylor

The engine driving the Lady Bears, Wallace’s senior season was unfortunately cut short due to an ACL injury, though she was still a unanimous All-Big 12 First Team selection.

Strengths

Wallace is a calm and competent floor general who excels at controlling the tempo of the game and getting her post players involved.

Fit with new team

It’s unclear how she factors into Atlanta’s plans as she recovers from her knee injury.


5. Ji-Su Park - Las Vegas Aces

6’5” | Center | South Korea

19-year-old Park was a draft night trade (along with Kahlia Lawrence) from the Minnesota Lynx in exchange for Jill Barta and a 2019 second-round pick.

Strengths

Park is a big with a nice mid-range jumper who is physical in the post, but may find things a bit more difficult in the WNBA when faced with players who aren’t afraid of her size and skill.

Fit with new team

Park would be a complementary backup to A’Ja Wilson and provide an additional physical presence in the post, perhaps in a Twin Towers scenario.


6. Loryn Goodwin - Dallas Wings

5’9” | Guard | Oklahoma State

Loryn Goodwin is one of the oldest players in this draft class and had a stellar season for Oklahoma State as she was one of the top players.

Strengths

Goodwin can score very well as well as attack the basket. She is also a good passer and a good defender.

Fit with new team

She will be coming off the bench to provide relief for the starting guards.


7. Myisha Hines-Allen - Washington Mystics

6’2” | Forward | Louisville

Hines-Allen had a great season for the Louisville Cardinals and regularly put up double-doubles against strong competition.

Strengths

She is a great rebounder and defender and can also be a great shooter both from the mid-range area as well as from the three-point line.

Fit with new team

It will be tough making the final roster for Hines-Allen, but if she does, expect her to come off the bench to provide relief for the Mystics forwards.


8. Tyler Scaife - Phoenix Mercury

5’9” | Guard | Rutgers

Despite the 2018 All-Big Ten First Team member Scaife’s dominant senior season, she may best be known for achieving such heights a year after having open-heart surgery to correct a congenital heart defect.

Strengths

Scaife, a 2018 Dawn Staley Award semifinalist, is a prolific scorer who ended her college career as the second-ranked player in Rutgers history for total points.

Fit with new team

Scaife is sure to be a backup option to Diana Taurasi as a scorer.


9. Raisa Musina - Phoenix Mercury

6’4” | Forward | Russia

Musina helped lead Russia to the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup championship, where they defeated Team USA for their first title in 28 years.

Strengths

Musina is a big who can shoot from three-point range and create scoring opportunities while providing an intimidating physical presence in the low post.

Fit with new team

Musina will be another defensive and scoring option behind fellow UMMC Ekaterinburg teammate Brittney Griner and fellow rookie Marie Gülich, especially if she starts taking and making more threes.


10. Mercedes Russell - New York Liberty

6’6” | Center | Tennessee

Russell is an ALL SEC selection and was a Lisa Leslie Award Finalist.

Strengths

A strong post player, Russell is a proven scorer and rebounder.

Fit with new team

Russell will have to impress early to see minutes behind Tina Charles and Kiah Stokes.


11. Shakayla Thomas - Los Angeles Sparks

5’11” | Forward | Florida State

Shakayla Thomas is one of the best players to come through Florida State and had an excellent senior season for the Seminoles.

Strengths

She can attack the basket and has a great mid-range game.

Fit with new team

Shakayla Thomas will have a tough time making the Sparks final roster but if she does, expect her to come off the bench in limited minutes.


12. Kahlia Lawrence - Las Vegas Aces

6’2” | Guard / Forward | Tennessee

The three-time Southern Conference POY was a draft night trade (along with Ji-Su Park) from the Minnesota Lynx in exchange for Jill Barta and a 2019 second-round pick.

Strengths

Lawrence is a prolific scorer, who ranked as the third-highest scorer in Mercer history.

Fit with new team

Lawrence would provide additional scoring and defensive help behind Kelsey Plum and Jaime Nared.