Pre-Draft Camp Notebook
To the Point
The biggest thing we got out of the morning and afternoon sessions of the 2006 WNBA Pre-Draft camp is how deep this draft is at the point guard position. Cappie Pondexter is the headliner at the one, enough so that she didn't need to participate on Monday, but there were several solid floor generals present, and they all made an impression on the spectators surrounding the court.
"I think this draft is very guard heavy, especially at the point guard position," Blue told us. "People are trying to work for a spot and you can really feel that right now."
The amount of point guards taken in the first round may only be limited by the amount of teams that need them. One could certainly make the case that there are four, maybe five point guards that could go in the first 14 picks.
Here's our take on the ones to watch:
Sherill Baker (Georgia) - The quickest player in the gym. She does her best work on the defensive end, but can turn the corner and get to the hole. She played the two at Georgia, but may be better suited for the point on the next level.
Nikki Blue (UCLA) - She's a big strong point who can handle the ball and fill it up as well. Very likely to go in the first round.
Melanie Boeglin (Indiana St.) - Another strong point. Very solid. Could go in the second or third rounds.
LaToya Bond (Missouri) - Very smooth. A solid player.
Megan Duffy (Notre Dame) - Great floor leader who is also one of the better shooters in camp. Definite first round material.
Erin Grant (Texas Tech) - Steady and smart (she's currently pursuing an MBA). More of a passer than a scorer. Not flashy, but won't make mistakes. Likely to find a home in Round 2.
Alexis Kendrick (Georgia) - The other half of the best backcourt in the nation. More of a point than Baker, but she can score as well. Could go in the second or third round.
Crystal Smith (Iowa) - She's a bulldog on the defensive end. She's small, but very quick.
Shona Thornburn (Utah) - Missed camp with an ankle injury. Could very well be a Top 10 pick.
Tasha Williams (Louisiana Tech) - Maybe the smallest player in camp, but very quick and can really distribute.
Shanna Zolman (Tennessee) - She's a two, but she has some point guard skills in her. She sees the floor well and makes smart decisions.
So who's in need of a point? Several teams according to Nancy Lieberman.
"In my opinion, that's the shalllowest of positions in the WNBA," Lieberman told us. "Minnesota needs a point. Seattle needs a back-up point. Detroit needs a point. Maybe Phoenix, depending on where they want to put Taurasi."
So there are plenty of holes for this draft class to fill. Minnesota's Suzie McConnell Serio admitted to us that the point is a primary concern for her, enough that they might choose Pondexter over Seimone Augustus with the No. 1 pick. We believe it's more likely that they'll take one at No. 7, perhaps Duffy or Blue. Detroit might be able to pick up Grant or Zolman with pick No. 17 and Seattle could find a rotation-worthy point at No. 25 if they don't get one at No. 11.
Getting it Done Down Low
We also had an eye on the low post, and several players opened up our eyes down there as well. None more than Brooke Quennan from Boston College. She has nice hands, can run the floor and moves well around the basket. Kerri Gardin (Virginia Tech), Debbie Merrill (Ohio St.), Tiffany Stansbury (NC State), Liad Suez-Karni (Villanova) and Kasha Terry (Georgia Tech) each caught our eye at times too.
Best Player on the Floor
The point guard crop is the strongest group, but the best player in the morning and afternoon sessions was clearly Lisa Willis, a big scoring guard from UCLA who can get it done on both ends of the floor. She can shoot the three, she can take it to the basket, she is a terrific passer and she has great hands on D. She plays smart and with a quiet intensity. She's not one of the "Big Four", but Willis can certainly be an impact player.
Who's Stock is Up?
We saw Nancy Lieberman talking with almost every coach and GM in the building at one point or another, so we knew she would be a good person to check in at the end of the afternoon to see who has made an impression on the room. In addition to Willis, she named Sherill Baker, Barbara Turner, LaToya Davis, Liz Shimek, Ann Strother and Ambrosia Anderson a people who raised their stock. We had noticed Anderson as well, as she was really filling it up in the afternoon session.
Need or Best Available?
We talked to a few coaches ourself, to try to get a gauge of what their thoughts are going into the draft. Are they drafting for need or will they just take the best player available? Here are some of their answers ...
Van Chancellor (Comets) - Picks 15, 24 & 29
Richie Adubato (Mystics) - Picks 8, 19 & 33
John Whisenant (Monarchs) - Picks 13, 14 & 41
Brian Winters (Fever) - Picks 9, 26 & 38
Dave Cowens (Sky) - Picks 6, 20 & 34