2011 WNBA Pre-Draft Conference Call: ESPN Analysts

Opening Statements

ESPN Reporter Pam Ward: Looking at this Draft, there are really quality point guards out there along with some good bigs (post players). From the GM’s I have talked to, they believe this is a fairly deep Draft. There is a lot of talent, including Maya (Moore) and the Liz Cambage, who is 6-8 and is apparently a really good basketball player. There are only 11-person rosters and there will be a lot of quality kids that are taken, yet they may not make a roster. But, overall this is a fairly deep draft and some of these kids will come in and make an immediate impact.

ESPN Reporter Carolyn Peck: There is a lot of talent in this year’s Draft and I think that the moves that Minnesota made last year will greatly benefit them this year (1st and 4th pick). There will be some movement this year with draft picks and it should be an exciting WNBA season. I am looking forward to it.

Question and Answer Session

Q: What kind of presence will Dawn Evans make, especially with her height?

CP: Put in the right situation with the right team, she can be a very good pro with her versatility and her competitive nature. This kid doesn’t back down from anything. The energy that she plays with is something that you have to have in order to play in the WNBA.

Q: What do you think about shooting guards in this Draft?

CP: There are guards in general that can really score. Dawn Evans and Courtney Vandersloot can both score. A player like Italee Lucas from North Carolina has upped her stock with her ability to score. Her shot selection at the WNBA level would be key. There aren’t as many pure shooters, but there are definitely some that can make a WNBA roster.

Q: What are some of the Chicago Sky’s biggest needs?

CP: With Pokey Chatman coming in and depending on her style, it would be tough to say exactly until we see what style Pokey brings into the WNBA. Do you go with a shooter or do you pass on an opportunity to get Amber Harris?

More: Pre-Draft Call

  • Coaches/GMs
  • Players

  • PW: Pokey is coming in and she will have to assess things and see where to go. With (Dominique) Canty and (Jia) Perkins, they may also be looking for another guard. (Jeanette) Pohlen and (Kayla) Pederson could be first rounders with their scoring abilities.

    Q: What opportunities are there for bigs in the Draft this year? What do you see from Xavier’s Amber Harris and Ta’Shia Phillips heading into the Draft?

    CP: They were one of my favorite frontcourts to watch with the versatility of Amber Harris and the strong post play of Ta’Shia Phillips. Amber Harris is truly a guard in post’s body. She can do so many things and it was good to see her have a healthy full year. Xavier benefited from having her healthy and on the floor to open things up for Ta’Shia Phillips. I like the way Ta’Shia positions herself and uses her strength and takes the ball to the basket. The biggest concern for Ta’Shia would be the speed of the game. The WNBA has very agile centers. She has the potential to do that, it’s just the matter of how long it takes for her to do that.

    Q: Are there any weaknesses for Amber Harris?

    CP: I like her versatility for the WNBA. You have to be able to defend away from the basket and be a scoring threat facing up. She has shown the ability to run the floor and she should be a good four.

    Q: From your perspective what kind of impact will Maya (Moore) make in the league and how will she change the Minnesota franchise?

    CP: The impact that Maya has will really depend on how she is used. The work ethic that Maya brings is strong. She has the similar work ethic to Tamika Catchings. She will work hard on every play. She can play the three or the four and is willing to take big shots. She has to continue to attack the basket and not rely on the catch and shoot situation. She will have an impact and has the potential in her rookie season to be an All-Star.

    Q: How do you think the veteran players in the league will react to her?

    CP: She has earned a great deal of respect from some of the top players in the league because of her playing with USA Basketball. Any of the ribbing from other players that may come would be jealousy and the maturity that she has, it won’t bother her. She takes the game very seriously. The top pressure situations that she has had at UConn will keep her very prepared for whatever situations she will face coming into the WNBA. Tina Charles only knew one way when she came into the league, which was to work hard. Good things will happen when you work hard.

    Q: What do you see Minnesota doing with the No. 4 pick?

    CP: I know that they have Lindsay Whalen, but you can not undervalue having a strong and good point guard. You can use a player like a Courtney Vandersloot. Where will Amber Harris go and what will Chicago do? It really depends what happens with No. 2 and No. 3. They can go different directions. They can go with Vandersloot, Harris or do you take a Jantel Lavender in the post. Lavender has had a terrific NCAA Tournament.

    Q: Can you talk about Kayla Pederson and Jeanette Pohlen and what positions they will play?

    PW: I see Pederson as a three in the WNBA.

    CP: I think it will be tough for Pederson to be a three all the time. Some of the potential matchups could be against Seimone Augustus or Diana Taurasi and having to defend on perimeter. But if she ends up in Phoenix she would be able to play a three in the zone defense. It would be the matchup defensively that would be a problem. Pohlen had a great year at point except for the NCAA Tournament. She plays a smart point and can score, and her experience at the one help her value. With the 11-player roster the more versatile you are the better it will be.

    Q: Do you expect Angie Bjorklund (Tennessee) to be drafted?

    PW: The people I have spoken to have her as a late second rounder, early third round. There are some concerns about defense.

    CP: I think that she didn’t help herself in the Elite Eight game. She can be hot and cold. She can be taken by a team that will need a shooter off the bench.

    Q: Can you talk about Danielle Adams and her inside and outside game?

    PW: She has been an incredibly talented player. The biggest concerns with her are her height and her fitness and being able to get up and down the court. Her fitness will definitely have to improve. She is small so she may have an issue thriving underneath and she’s not quick enough to play outside. Someone will definitely take a chance on her.

    Q: Will the fact that Adams played at junior college affect her chances in the WNBA?

    CP: She was a very productive player at junior college and I don’t think that will affect her. As Pam described, it will be her fitness level. The speed of the WNBA level is a step up from college.

    Q: How high do you see Dawn (Evans) getting drafted and do you see the kidney disease as being a deterrent?

    CP: I don’t see it being a deterrent. Her size may be an issue, but her ability to score and her quickness gives her great value. I think she can be a late first rounder, or early in the second round.