2004 WNBA Draft Prospect Tracker
COLLEGE PROSPECT TRACKER
as of April 8
|Diana Taurasi, UConn
|Alana Beard, Duke
|Nicole Powell, Stanford
|Chandi Jones, Houston
|Lindsay Whalen, Minnesota
|Kelly Mazzante, Penn State
|Nicole Ohlde, Kansas State
|Vanessa Hayden, Florida
|Shameka Christon, Arkansas
||Rebekkah Brunson, Georgetown
By Rebecca Lobo
April 8, 2004
The WBCA put together a group of the top college seniors to play a game against
the USA National Team at the Final Four. (Diana Taurasi, Lindsay Whalen, Tasha
Butts, and Doneeka Hodges didn't play because their teams were competing in
the Final Four.) Some players' talents are suited for All-Star games (Shemeka
Christon) while others need an organized environment to show all they can do
(Kelly Mazzante). I watched the game and talked to the WNBA vets afterwards
to get their impressions.
1. Diana Taurasi (Connecticut):
4/8: No college player was under more pressure this season than Diana Taurasi
and she came through again. She's a champion -- 3 times over.
4/1: Diana is reinforcing her reputation as the best clutch-time
player in the game. Her numbers in the NCAA tournament are great, and her exuberance
is back. (Witness how she threw her 2004 east regional championship hat into
the heckling Penn State student section after UConn handily beat the Nittany
3/25: If it's possible for D to make her stock rise, she
did it with a great showing in the first two rounds. And her shooting touch
3/17: She's a stud. The '03 Player of the Year has more
confidence than Tony Siragusa at a pie-eating contest. Her numbers are down
a little this year because she's been battling nagging ankle and back injuries,
but no one is more of a big-game player than Taurasi. Every GM in the Draft
would take her with the first pick.
2. Alana Beard (Duke):
4/8: Beard didn't play in the All-American game.
4/1: Beard had a stellar career at Duke and broke a lot
of records but her team never made it to the promised-land. Her sub-par game
against Minnesota won't hurt her draft position and might make her hungrier
when she enters the league.
3/25: Beard only had eight points in the team's opening
round game against Northwestern State but she did everything else (8 boards,
9 assists, 3 steals). And, when her team needed her to score against Marquette,
she got 30.
3/17: Beard is putting up Player of the Year numbers (20
points, 5 rebounds per game) and is a terrific defender. She has added a decent
jump shot to go with her stellar driving game. This shy Blue Devil has a strong,
solid physique and will start right away for the team that takes her.
3. Nicole Powell (Stanford):
4/8: Powell looked like she was having a lot of fun playing against the world's
finest. She was solid on both ends of the floor.
4/1: Powell was the engine that made the Stanford team
run while powering the Cardinal to an Elite 8 finish. She showed everyone her
versatility and will open the eyes of any team that has a need for the 2, 3,
3/25: She continues to do everything for Stanford -- and
that's what we've all come to expect.
3/17: While Powell looks like she could be fellow Cardinal
Tiger Woods' sister, I have no idea if she has game on the links. However, on
the court, Powell could be the most versatile player in the Draft. She's 6'2"
and can play any position on the floor. She does everything for Stanford (20
ppg, 11 rpg) and is a one-woman show in Palo Alto.
4. Chandi Jones (Houston):
4/8: She was quiet during the All-American game. Nothing spectacular, but she
held her own.
4/1: Mazzante's difficulty in creating her own shot against
UConn reinforces the value of a player is who can create her own shot. Since
Jones can score off the drive, shoot the pull-up J, and drain the three -- she
is difficult to guard.
3/25: Her stock would have risen a little if she had made
the last second three to put her team in the Sweet Sixteen.
3/17: Jones led the nation in scoring in '03 and her average this year is down
to 22.5 ppg. She's a smooth player who can drain the deep three, hit the pull-up
J, or take it all the way to the hole. Her jump-stop is very Swoopes-like and
she can score in bunches like the WNBA MVP. She doesn't force shots and she'll
keep her post players happy with her unselfish play.
5. Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota):
4/8: She has proven that she can play the point and that is a hot commodity
in the WNBA.
4/1: Whalen's stock went way up after the win against
Duke. Her toughness and willingness to take big shots were showcased. Throughout
the tournament she's contributed some gutsy performances and shown that she
can score, pass, and handle pressure against top defenders (like Alana Beard).
Folks can now look at her as both a point guard and a shooting guard. She's
going to make this draft pretty darn interesting.
3/25: She showed how valuable she is to the Gophers by
leading them to an upset win over #2 seed Kansas State. She answered any questions
regarding how her hand injury would effect her game.
3/17: Whalen broke two bones in her shooting hand a few
weeks ago, but hopes to be back in time for the NCAA Tournament. She's a tough
kid who plays with the intensity of Allen Iverson (without the rows and tattoos).
She can score from anywhere and will be a solid 2-guard in the WNBA.
6. Kelly Mazzante (Penn State):
4/8: Her shooting woes continued but this type of all-star game doesn't play
to her stregths anyway.
4/1: Mazzante struggled with her shot in the tournament
and a lot of that can be credited to the teams defending her. While she made
some big plays at the end of the Notre Dame game, she also had a tough time
defending the bigger and quicker Jacqueline Batteast. She's incredibly appealing
to teams that have penetrating guards where she can benefit from drive-and-kick
3/25: This kid's stock will really rise if she can lead
her team to a victory at the Hartford Civic Center over UConn.
3/17: She's the all-time leading scorer in Big 10 history
-- men's or women's. She has NBA range and is Dan Marino-quick with her release.
The 6'0" guard also has a decent handle and plays good D.
7. Nicole Ohlde (Kansas State):
4/8: She impressed some of the national team members with her athleticism when hitting the boards. She didn't force anything during the game -- but needs to be more offensive-minded when getting the ball on the block.
4/1: Vanessa Hayden was the clear-cut post favorite until
she had recent surgery on her foot. If a team needs an immediate post presence,
Ohlde's stock might rise.
3/17: She's an Ohlde-but-goody, a legit 6'5", runs the floor well, and can shoot
from the perimeter. She can also put the ball on the floor. She's a pretty appealing
prospect, especially for teams in the West who have to deal with Lauren Jackson,
Lisa Leslie, and Yolanda on a daily basis.
8. Vanessa Hayden (Florida):
4/1: The question with Hayden has always been conditioning.
Now that she had surgery on her foot, her play-by date and conditioning are big
questions. She might still go in the top 3, but she also might fall a few.
NBA TV analyst Rebecca Lobo tracks the prospects.
3/25: She spent the tournament in foul trouble and needs
to learn how to stay on the court. Florida suffered whenever she was forced to
3/17: Coach Carolyn Peck calls her, "the best center in
the country." Her numbers against Georgia in the SEC quarterfinal: 26 points,
12 rebounds. She won't average those numbers in the WNBA, but she'll be a force
in the lane.
9. Shameka Christon (Arkansas):
4/8: Every national team
member I talked to after the game said they were most impressed with Christon.
She competed hard, ran the floor really well, and already has a WNBA physique.
3/17: The 6-1 senior was named SEC Player of the Year
after averaging 21.8 points and 7 rebounds per game. She's athletic, can shoot
the three, and gets to the free throw line. Unfortunately, we might not be able
to track her progress in the tourney because Arkansas is a bubble-team.
10. Rebekkah Brunson (Georgetown):
4/8: Brunson was quiet during the game but that can be attributed to the squad
that was surrounding her when she was in there. (They had her running with the
4/1: The domino effect of Hayden's injury could effect
other players in the draft. I don't think Brunson will leap-frog over Hayden
to pole position for posts, but a shake-up near the top could effect where she
3/17: This kid can sit back and rest up for the Draft
because her Georgetown team has as much chance of stepping on the dance floor
as an ugly 7th grader with B.O. Even if she isn't dancing this March, Brunson
can hoop at the highest level. She averaged 19 points and 12 boards a game and
led the Big East in both categories. She's 6-3, lean, and has the body of a
thoroughbred. She can play with her back to the basket or put the ball on the
Others to keep an eye on:
Iciss Tillis (Duke)
4/8: Tillis chose not to participate in the all-american game and I think that
was a mistake. While she is very versatile and athletic, folks still have a
lot of questions about how she'll fare in the pros.
Shereka Wright (Purdue)
4/8: Wright was able to use her strength -- getting to the free throw line.
However, she won't get the same calls in the WNBA that she got in the Big 10.
Tera Bjorkland (Colorado)
4/8: Bjorklund was pretty quiet. However, like Brunson, she didn't have much
time with the best guard rotation.
Christi Thomas (Georgia)
4/8: Thomas was impressive. She was very physical with Tina Thompson (and took
a couple of Tina's elbows to the throat) and Lisa Leslie. She showed her toughness
against some of the WNBAs more intimidating posts.
Stacy Stephens (Texas)
4/8: Stephens is an undersized post (6'0") but was able to use her up-and-under
moves a few times to get shots off against Lisa Leslie. Granted, the USA Team
hadn't scouted the members of the college squad, but that doesn't take away
from the fact that Stephens was able to score in the post.
Rebecca will be updating her prospect rankings each week until the 2004 WNBA Draft on April 17.
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