During her work for ESPN during the college basketball season and throughout
the NCAA Tournament, Monarchs guard Kara Lawson has gotten to watch the best players
in the game on a regular basis. With an eye on the WNBA Draft, and perhaps as
much to scout her future opponents and teammates, Lawson shares her thoughts on
several of the top prospects.
By Kara Lawson
Atkinson, forward, North Carolina
This is a player that I really love just
for her athleticism and her body. She can give a team such versatility, she can
defend so many different positions and has great height and great length. But
she also understands what it means to be a role player and how to fit in with
other great players. That is another skill that is sometimes undervalued. When
you come to play in our league, you're going to play with a lot of great players.
All of the teams have stars and La'Tangela has that as well with her college team
with Latta and Larkin. Atkinson does the dirty work in order to make her mark
on the game. This year, I think she has stepped up and averaged double-digit rebounds
and has an attack mentality.
Seimone Augustus, guard, Louisiana State
understands how to play the game, plain and simple. I mean that in a very complementary
way. While that term may be overused, she just understands the rhythm of the game
and how to put her mark on it. No matter how she is being defended or the type
of game that it is, she can adapt as an offensive player. At the same time, she
has a tremendous sense of what she is good at, and never really deviates from
that. Those things include her mid-range game, finding open spots on the floor
and her off-the-dribble jumper. She is excellent at these things and does not
deviate from them. She is at another level.
Sherill Baker, guard, Georgia
of the knocks against Sherrill is her size. She is not a point guard on the offensive
end and is kind of smallish for a 2 position, but you'd be hard pressed to find
a better on-the-ball defender in the game. Her anticipation skills defensively
are outstanding. Averaging five steals a game is insane to me. But Sherril has
offensively. She came to Georgia very raw and now averages between 17 and 18 points
per game having worked on her mid-range game. She is not going to be a 3-point
specialist, that's not her game and may be one her weaknesses, and does not have
the ability to stretch a defense. But when you have the type of quickness that
she has and the fact that she has improved her midrange game and can knock down
that shot, I think she will be a player in the WNBA. I like her and I know she's
a competitor. She plays the game the right way and understands how to fit in with
Nikki Blue, guard, UCLA
Lisa Willis, guard, UCLA
Nikki Blue and her teammate Lisa Willis have intriguing their athleticism. She
can very dynamic and played a huge role for a team for four years. I was anxious
to see them both play in the NCAA Tournament and if they're able to advance against
top competition. That enables coaches and scouts to get a better read as far as
how they play on a bigger stage. I love Lisa Willis as well because she's complete.
She can score, she passes the ball very well (I was surprised by how good a passer
she is) and she's a smart player defensively. These two players had the pressure
of having to perform every night for their team to win because they are not as
strong on the interior. When a player has to perform every night in college under
that pressure, it helps them as far as their ability to transition and succeed
in our league because that pressure builds internally. They understand the consistency
of effort in every game.
Monique Currie, guard, Duke
is just a big guard. She can play the 2 or the 3, but they are kind of the same
thing in our league. The only real difference is the defensive matchups as you'll
have bigger players if you're at the three spot. To me, Mo is complete. She has
the strength and the body for our league. I like that she is a big, strong guard
and that she shot like 44 percent from three this year. That is something she
has improved greatly upon. Yet, she's always been a great player as far as breaking
it down off the dribble and finishing. She has also played at a high level for
four years and I am definitely partial to players who have played in big games
at the college level and who have experienced success. Performing at a high level
in pressure situations prepares you for our league and what you're going to face
on a nightly basis.
Candice Dupree, forward, Temple
an intriguing prospect for me. I remember watching her play as a sophomore when
I called one of Temple's games. Then I did one last year and now I've done a couple
of games this year and to see how much better she's gotten is amazing. I have
so much respect for Dawn Staley and for what she brings as a coach, so to me the
pedigree enables her to understand what it takes to be a solid player. Having
worked on expanding her game, Candice has added the ability to face up, step out
and hit shots and mix in great post moves. With her big hands, good feet and solid
athleticism, I think she has great potential upside. She's not going to knock
you off your feet with her athleticism, but she has improved every year and has
both a good work ethic and a desire to be good.
Tye'sha Fluker, center,
Tye'sha is an important player in this Draft because of her size.
If shooting is number 1, size is 1A. She's 6-5 and, with the strength that she
has, will have a place on a team.
Scholanda Hoston, forward, LSU
like her Scholanda. I like her length and the fact that she plays so hard on the
defensive end. She is another example of a role player, L.S.U.'s best defensive
player who really attacks you defensively. She's the aggressor on the defensive
end and is long enough to be successful at that. But she has improved offensively
and can hit shots. I like her attacking mentality offensively as well. Once again,
she's a player that knows how to play the game with and around a star player in
Seimone Augustus, and, to me, that's an important quality. She understands what
it means to be a part of a team. I think she's mature, a fifth-year player, and
when going from college to the WNBA, you want to make sure that players know how
to handle themselves and are going to take care of themselves the right way.
James, forward, Miami
I haven't seen her play at all, I've heard that people
are high on her but I haven't seen her enough.
Cappie Pondexter, guard,
I really believe that Cappie is the draft pick that will have the
most impact right away simply because of the nature of the position. When you're
a guard, especially a lead guard like she is, you can really change a team pretty
quickly. Look at the young lead guards who have had talent and come into the league,
like Sue (Bird), like Diana (Taurasi), like Temeka Johnson last year in Washington.
When you have the ball in your hands on nearly every possession, you can have
more of an impact, so her position lends itself to the fact that she will be an
impact player. She's definitely got a tremendous skill set offensively and she's
got a body that's tailor-made for our league. She brings a physicality and strength,
she can finish and she has the complete offensive game. Cappie also has the three-point
shot in her arsenal as well as the one-on-one ability to break opponents down.
Strother, guard, Connecticut
Shanna Zolman, guard, Tennessee
look at Zolman and Strother, if I'm biased to anything, one skill, it's shooting.
If you can shoot, I think you've got a spot on somebody's team. In basketball,
in general, that's one fundamental skill that is lacking, the ability to knock
down shots. What makes Ann a little bit more attractive is her size. She's 6-3
and is a little bit more athletic. Her size really gives her an advantage coming
in because there is so much size on the wing in our league. But for both, you
will get a get a player from either Tennessee or UConn, top programs, and you
know you're going to get a player that works hard, that is dedicated to improving
their game and knows how to play the right way.
Sophia Young, forward,
A lot of people are wary of Sophia because of her size, but I think
you have to be careful about that. There are many players with a tremendous will
to win and a lot of toughness in our league and in the NBA. Elton Brand and Earl
Boykins are undersized, but they're still effective because they are tough and
have a tremendous desire to improve. That is what impresses me the most about
Sophia. Look at when she started playing basketball and the growth she has shown.
She haa gotten better every year at Baylor. And to me, that's important when you
look at college players. A lot of players come in with talent but do they get
better, and how sizeable are those improvements and increases each year? I don't
see any reason why Sophia can't continue to make those improvements. Swin Cash
was a "tweener" when she came into the league and she has proven that
she has the perimeter skills offensively. I think Sophia is the type of athlete
in that, like Swin, she's long and athletic, but has the body and the work ethic
to improve and to make herself into whatever the team wants her.