WNBA Draft may not have as many household names as last year's Draft, but this
year's crop of seniors is also deep and well-rounded. Sacramento Monarchs guard
Kara Lawson spent her WNBA offseason serving as a women's college basketball analyst
for ESPN and has probably spent as much time watching the prospects play this
season as many scouts. Of course, she does have somewhat of a vested interest
- Sacramento has the ninth overall pick in the 2005 WNBA Draft. Prior to the NCAA
Tournament, Lawson describes the games of some of the top prospects and predicts
how might fit at the next level.
| Lawson will likely be playing with one of these players.|
Jacqueline Batteast, Notre Dame: "She has really stepped up her game this
year. Similar to Ely, people aren't sure where to play her but she can really
score the basketball. She is a big, about 6-2, which is a huge asset for her coming
into the league. She has improved her three-point shot. I think she might have
to get used to the speed of the game but so will any rookie. She has great skills,
a great feel for the game and she has been the go-to player for four years and
knows what it's like to have to score and have to produce in clutch situations.
I don't think you can ever underestimate those players in college who had the
pressure of having to carry a team on her back every game."
Ely, Tennessee: "She was kind of enigmatic this year. She hasn't played her
best basketball in her senior year. I might be a little more critical of her than
other people because I played with her and know her game better. She is a great
athlete, she is a 'tweener," between the three and the four spots on the floor.
When you make this transition, people want to know if she will be able to score.
She is a scorer. If you can score, you can play at this level. Who cares what
position. That is her biggest asset."
Irvin, T.C.U.: "I like her a lot. She is a good athlete, a tremendous defensive
player that can rebound and block shots. Her anticipation skills as a shot-blocker
are great. She is a little raw offensively and needs to sure-up her post game
but she loves to play and has fun playing. Another way to judge if someone will
be successful at the pro game is if they really love the game. She loves to play
and wants to play and wants to be a great player. A great person."
Johnson, Louisiana State: "When you talk about her, the first thing you
have to discuss is her heart and her leadership. She plays hard all the time.
She has a tremendous ability to raise up the play of those around her. Detractors
will talk about her size or her difficulty hitting the three-point shot, but she
has a great feel for the game and knows how to score when she needs to and get
everyone else involved. Her leadership is her biggest asset. She's not afraid
Mann, UC-Santa Barbara: "She is kind of a tweener as well. At 6-2, she is
bigger and can shoot the ball. It's just a matter of athleticism and defending
athleticism for her. That means being able to stop people who are really quick,
agile and skilled. But she has a great offensive game, had a lot of responsibility
for her college team, shouldering the brunt of the scoring load. Players like
her have to have good games or else they lose. At UCSB, she had to carry them.
You like players that have gone through that because you know they do well in
pressure situations, but she will have to work on scoring on and defending against
the best in the WNBA."
McCarville, Minnesota: "The first thing I think about when I think of Janel
McCarville is her passing. She has such great passing skills for a post player
and sees the game really well. The offense they run in Minnesota gives her a great
base as far as seeing the game and read things. That's a step-up for post players
from the college game to the pro game. They have to become better passers at the
next level, they have to read plays and defenses better. She has a great foundation
and a head-start on that. I don't think this will be a tough transition for her.
For her, she will have to be able to defend all types of post players from Lisa
Leslie to DeLisha Milton-Jones to Cheryl For who are smart, physical and athletic."
Moore, Tennessee: "She is a big, physical guard. That's her strong point.
She is used to playing with high quality players from having played at Tennessee.
She knows how to succeed and play in that type of atmosphere. Whereas Batteast
was the go-to player, she will have to learn how to blend in. Loree already knows
know to do that. She can get more with less. She has to improve her offensive
game, knock down outside shots consistently. She pushes the ball very well, has
a good feel for the game, good point guard and solid all-around player. If she
wants to be a great player in this league, she'll have to get better offensively."
Kansas St.: "I like her game, but her adjustment will be having to switch
positions at the next level. She's been a four her entire career and she is undersized
at 5-11. She has made the transition to the perimeter. She is a tremendous athlete
but she will have to improve attacking on the perimeter and becoming a better
guard off the dribble. I think playing off the dribble will be her biggest adjustment,
not just sitting back or shooting or staying down in the post. Defending players
that can do that as well will take some time to adjust to as well. If you come
into the WNBA weak in any way on defense it gets exploited right away. You can
get away with it in college because you are the superior player. But you can tell
she knows this because she has been working on it and improved even from last
season to this season. She will have to get even better."
White, Mississippi State: "Wow, I love Tan White. I played against her for
two years when I was at Tennessee and she is one of the few guards who can do
everything. She is so athletic, a great scorer, a great ball-handler, a great
passer, great defender. She is one of my favorite players and I really like her
game. Don't sleep on her because Mississippi State was not that good. I'm excited
to see her play at this level. It's just a matter of her wanting to come in and
work hard. If she does, she will prove herself."
Wright, Penn State: "I really respect her as a player because she has worked
so hard on the weaknesses in her game. She has improved year by year. She started
out pretty much as just an athlete at Penn State, a defensive player. She can
guard different types of perimeter players, but she has improved her offensive
game this year. She has also proven that she can be a go-to scorer that can knock
down shots. She's a good all-around player and I think she'll be a solid player
in the WNBA."