The top seniors by position
Breaking Down the Prospects
March 31, 2006 - With the WNBA entering its tenth season, rosters are very much secure and coaches know what kind of players they are looking to add to their team. And while this Draft may not produce as many "immediate impact" players as some previous Drafts, I think there is a good number of players who can make a team in some capacity and serve a purpose either this season on in years to come. When you break down the prospects by position, as will do below, the caveat is that while we may think of players as fitting into certain roles or playing positions, WNBA coaches will ultimately have their own ideas and put these players where they think they can best help their own team.
Seimone Augustus, Cappie Pondexter and Monique Currie are the top three. They could be the top three picks in that order, though the order in which they are picked could vary. I don't think any of these top three picks are point guards even though a lot of people might want to turn Cappie Pondexter into a point guard. There is also talk, and I don't know whether it will happen or not, that Phoenix could trade the No. 2 pick to another team to add veterans to their team. That is the rumor that is out there, but it remains to be seen whether it will happen.
The interesting question is whether Phoenix would select Pondexter if a trade does not happen. If the Mercury do not think she is the best pick for the team, why should they select her? Everyone seems to think that they need a point guard, but I also think they need a 3 and a 5 if Taylor and Vodichkova opt to stay overseas this summer. Phoenix has a new coach s well, and it remains to be seen who will fit into his new system. I don't think Kelly Miller is a true point guard, but she has played that role in Charlotte and Indiana.
Charlotte has made some interesting decisions in the past, and whether or not they take Monique Currie, that trend could continue. I am not certain that she is the right pick for that team either. I think the Sting need a point guard as well, though that need could be filled with their second first round pick, the 10th overall pick. The top true point guards mentioned have been Megan Duffy, Erin Grant, Nikki Blue and Shona Thorburn. Those are the top four. They keep throwing Cappie in there as a point guard, but I don't think that fits. Those would be the top five point guards. After that are Ashley Allen (Ohio State) and Chameka Scott, a lefty from Baylor.
So who else should you keep an eye on at the next level, perhaps second or third round picks? Louisiana Tech's Tasha Williams is a player to watch even though her size is an issue. Michigan State's Lindsay Bowen is more of a 2 than a 1, though I think she will go in the second round. A player who has not been talked about as much is Georgia's Alexis Kendrick. She plays in the SEC and has been around talented players, so that could make her a second or third round pick.
As far as two-guards after Augustus and Currie, I think Sherill Baker is a first round pick, for sure. Next will be Lisa Willis. Both will go between five and 10. I think Shonna Zolman, LaToya Bond and Scholanda Hoston are more guards being talked about who will go in the second round.
With three guards potentially going in the top three picks, the best forward in the Draft is Baylor's Sophia Young. Having played the power forward position in college, I think she will be made into a three at the next level. But she can score, rebound and is a leader. After Young is selected, the talent level of frontcourt players drops, but not by much. North Carolina's La'Tangela Atkinson is a very athletic player and a great defender. She has also shown that she has a good mid-range game and can hit the outside shot when necessary. That is an area she has to improve upon, however.
I have not seen Miami's Tamara James, though I know many others have and are quite high on her. She is another player who can score both facing up and with her back to the basket. Other small forwards who could go in the first round include UConn's Ann Strother, who could be a shooter in the WNBA. She can do much mooe than just shoot because of her size and athleticism, but long-range shooting might be her specialty at the next level. Utah's Kim Smith will be a three in the WNBA and has a very polished game. She can score, is a very good outside shooter and can rebound. She also has played at a higher level as a member of the Canadian National Team.
I see Barbara Turner more as a 3 than a 4. She obviously helped herself out in the NCAA Tournament, but I'm not sure she did enough to warrant first round consideration. Purdue's Aya Traore might get a look. She is very athletic and takes it to the basket. Xavier's Tara Boothe may also get a look. A player to keep an eye on is Tulsa's Megan Moody. I think she could not only get drafted, but will compete for a roster spot if selected.
Power forward is another position that does not go as deep in this year's Draft. Temple's Candice Dupree is one of the top forwards in the country and will be drafted somewhere between picks five and 10 as well. She has very good footwork and is ready to play against WNBA forwards on both the offensive and defensive end. Liz Shimek has played in a lot of big games with Michigan State, can shoot the outside shot (very important for forwards to be able to take defenders outside) and has great hands.
The next tier of drafted forwards could include NC State's Tiffany Stansbury. She is a big, strong player who is quite talented with her back to the basket. Idaho's Faurholt was the Conference Player of the Year on multiple occasions and is a scorer, but she is only about 5-11. Ohio State's Debbie Merrill will get a look because she can shoot.
The center position is traditionally the weakest position in the Draft because good centers are so hard to come by. But there are some bigs who are capable of coming in and making teams right away. At the top is Tennessee's Tye'sha Fluker. I expect her to be a late first round or early second round pick. But another SEC center who will get drafted is 6-5 Auburn center Marita Payne. She and Arizona State's Kristen Kovesdy will both be selected on April 5.
An intriguing prospect who I have not yet seen is Zane Teilane. Pronounced ZAH-nay, it is hard to overlook a 6-7 center. The question that I hope to have answered by watching her at Pre-Draft camp is whether she is a finesse 6-7 player like Margo Dydek (who does have an offensive game, but could be more aggressive) or can bang a bit more like Katie Feenstra. Duke's Mistie Williams is only 6-2, but she will also be drafted. DePaul's Khara Smith will give you a double-double, but her knees might limit her this summer. She might even opt to take the summer off. If she doesn't however, she should be a first round pick.