CLEVELAND, March 30, 2007 -- The 2007 WNBA Draft features a number of exciting prospects. During the course of the college season, I've gotten to see many of them play up close and have been really impressed with just how far the game has come. In preparing for the Draft, I have been studying prospects by position. Since there is a plethora of wing/swing players, I have broken those up between the 2 and 3 spots... most can play both and each franchise will likely use in whatever position is necessary. Of course, it all depends on what teams need, but here are my tops by position.
1. Lindsey Harding will be the first point taken because she is equally effective on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. After blending with great players, Alana Beard and Monique Currie, for the first three years of her career, Harding displayed a willingness and skill set to score effectively from the lead guard spot. The ESPN.com, ACC and WBCA National Defensive Player of the Year is terrific at getting into the paint off the dribble and scoring or distributing. While not a high volume 3-point shooter, she can make shots with range and has a pull-up jump shot in her arsenal. Couple all of the aforementioned skills with terrific leadership abilities and an unselfish nature, and you have the makings of a quality Point Guard.
2. Ivory Latta will be the second point guard chosen. She differs from Harding in that she is a much more productive player from the three point line. Due to the knee injury she suffered in last year's final four, Latta's senior year got off to a slow start. But the reality is this, Latta is an explosive scorer who couples her range with an ability to go off the bounce in either direction. She led the nation's most dangerous fast break and North Carolina and should fit nicely in a league whose pace gets faster each season. Defensively, she is not as disruptive as Harding, but should be adequate.
3. Lyndsey Medders led the nation in assists for stretches as a junior with over seven per game. This year, that number was a respectable six and a half per game. In addition to excellent passing skills and an understanding of how to run a team, Medders brings great range that would allow her to stretch defenses. At Iowa State, she played in a system that played match-up zone on the defensive side so there are some questions about her ability to be effective on that side of the ball.
4. Renee Taylor brings blazing speed and a scoring mentality to the game. She has an ability to get to the rim and finish and displays great toughness despite her lack of size. Along with Dee Davis from Vanderbilt, she'll likely go in the second round.
1. Arminite Price is the player who automatically raises the talent level of any team in the draft. She reminds me of Deanna Nolan with her freaky athleticism. She is a slasher with incredible leaping ability. Price is not yet a threat from deep range but she boards it well and plays bigger than her 5'9 frame. During her career at Mississippi she went to the free throw line an absurd 917 times. With a great work ethic and special defensive abilities, Price would be the 1st player I'd take!!!
2. Noelle Quinn brings great versatility to the table. She has played the point, two and three positions during her career at UCLA. She has great vision evidenced by consecutive years with 100 plus assists. Quinn can score the basketball from deep or in the mid-range or from the free throw line. In each of her last 2 years, she had 133 and 128 free throw attempts. Quinn will have to make sure her conditioning level is high when she reaches the league.
3. Shay Murphy from USC has a chance to be special in the WNBA. At 5'11 she has great size and a frame that is league ready right now. Murphy was asked to carry the scoring load for the women of Troy and responded by averaging 17 points per game over her final two seasons. Her career percentage from three was only 30 percent but I believe she has the ability to be more consistent. She can rebound well from that position evidenced by 7155 career rebounds. I like her upside.
4. Katie Geralds from Purdue helped her stock immensely with her performance in the NCAA tournament carrying her team to within a game of a final four berth. Geralds forte is shooting the basketball. She however, brings much more to the table than that. A high basketball IQ, Katie has good passing skills, a solid handle and size. She reminds me a bit of fellow Purdue grad, Katie Douglas. And like Douglas, coming out of college, there are questions about her ability to guard in the league. Douglas, due to her work ethic, turned herself into one of the best defenders in the WNBA.
1. Camille Little of North Carolina is brimming with potential. She has thrived in the Tar Heels high octane offense. Little moved from the power forward to the small forward over her career. While she is not a catch and shoot type three, she is terrific in the open floor and on the defensive side of the ball. Little played the top of Carolina's pressure and brings great length, athleticism, and smarts to the table. Overshadowed a bit by Ivory Latta's outsized personality, Little is another player whose upside is exciting.
2. Jessica Dixon from South Florida is a terrific scorer who averaged 19 points per game over her four year career. Playing in the highly competitive Big East and getting the most attention from opponents scouts, she was able to be remarkably consistent on the offensive end. After a freshman season in which she made only 8 threes, Dickson improved her range each year to balance out a quick first step and slashing ability.
3. Chrissy Givens may be more of a two in the league but at 5'11 with a solid skill set brings plenty to the table. Givens is a stat stuffer with over 1900 career points, almost 700 rebounds, 400 plus assists and nearly 300 steals. Givens thrived in Middle Tennessee's pressure defense open court style. She expanded her range over her career, making 46 triples as a junior. Her athleticism, work ethic and defensive abilities make her attractive. Questions about competition were put to rest as some of her best work was done against highly ranked teams.
4. Kamesha Hairston could go before all of the aforementioned players. She is terrific shooting the basketball curling off screens and has good size. Her improvement over the course of her career speaks volume about her work ethic and her exposure to quality coaching from Dawn Staley. She could absolutely be a late first round pick!
1. Bernice Mosby is an absolute first round pick. Like many players in this draft, she is a two position player. Mosby early on in her career did much of her damage around the rim. She is a terrific athlete with a knack for scoring over bigger players. She has used quickness and guile to become a dangerous offensive player. Now, with an increasing ability to make the face up shot, she becomes more of a threat at the small forward spot.
2. Tiffany Jackson out of Texas has so much going for her. She is a terrific athlete whose frame is WNBA ready. Over four years in the Big 12 she averaged over 15 opints and collected over 1000 rebounds. Jackson has been asked to guard centers throughout her career but I believe she is best suited to the four position. She can make the face up jump shot and even made 8 threes as a senior. Jackson can attack off the dribble or with her back to the basket who will go in the first round.
3. Carla Thomas from Vanderbilt is another player who has spent time at the center position over her career. She played in a system that required good understanding on the offensive end and like Jackson can score either facing the basket or with her back to the basket. Thomas shoots is at a high percentage and understands quality shots. Vandy played a lot of different defenses, including match-up zone. She is an interesting prospect.
4. Sydney Spencer from Tennessee is probably more small forward than power forward because she in not a dominant rebounder. Spencer can stretch defenses with great range. At her size in Tennessee's man to man defense based system, she has been asked at times to guard inside. The only thing I question about Spencer is her inconsistency as her skill level is high.
1. Jessica Davenport became the only player in Big Ten history to win the conference player of the year award 3 times. At 6'5' she brings size and great finishing ability to the position. Under Jim Foster she was vastly improved and may be one of the best passers out of the post at such a young age. This is a quality individual whose only question coming into the league is her athleticism. In the WNBA, she will be asked to guard in pick and roll situations and her mobility is not superior. That said, I believe she is capable.
2. Alison Bales at Duke changed her frame and her game during her four year career. She is a dominating defensive presence who holds the Duke and NCAA tournament career blocks records. In Duke's system, she was required to play a variety of defenses and is constantly in help mode. As a senior she averaged a carreer high 11 points and is excellent out of the high post. While she may be challenged on the offensive end, Bales will make a team better on the defensive side.
3. Brooke Smith from Stanford is someone who could move between the power forward and center spots. She has an unusual old school type sweeping hook shot with either hand at her disposal coupled with a face up ability. Smith comported herself well in the NCAA tournament in each of the last 2 years and brings a high basketball IQ to the table. The one question I have is if she is willing to mix it up in the very physical WNBA.
4. Gillian Goring made people take notice as a senior. She has been a bit of an enigma during her collegiate career because as a skilled 6'7 center she has shown flashes of brilliance and a maddening inconsistency. Under Kay Yow at NC State, Goring displayed periods of capable offensive performances. Her knees have limited her effectiveness at times and her conditioning and desire will have to improve if she is to have a chance in the league.