2010 WNBA Pre-Draft Conference Call: ESPN Analysts

Opening Statements

ESPN Reporter Rebecca Lobo: Well, I’m just excited about the upcoming WNBA Draft. It has been an exciting NCAA Tournament and the tournament has provided opportunities for some players to really increase their stock in this draft. I think especially when you look at the three kids from Oklahoma, and you look at what Jené Morris has done to open people’s eyes to the talent outside of Jayne Appel, Tina Charles and Monica Wright, even though those are still three of the premiere names in the upcoming draft. It’s always interesting because we go in thinking we know what order the top kids are going to go and there are generally a few surprises. I know I’m really excited for the draft next week and it’s always fun seeing these kids after they get picked and they know their lives are going to change. Go ahead Carolyn.

ESPN Reporter Carolyn Peck: Like Rebecca said, I think the NCAA Tournament has been a tremendous stage for some kids that don’t get a lot of exposure to be seen. Two kids that stick out in my mind are Chanel Mokango and Armelie Lumanu of Mississippi State. They’ve had tremendous NCAA Tournaments, to go along with Jené Morris (San Diego State). The programs that are not traditionally on national television have gotten some tremendous exposure and I think that they have an opportunity to be selected by some of these WNBA teams.

Question and Answer Session

Q: For someone like Tina Charles, obviously with Connecticut having the top pick in the Draft, what do you think that does for the Connecticut area and for that organization if she’s goes No. 1 and lands there?

RL: “They’ve got a few of those UConn Huskies on the team, they’ve got Asjha Jones and with the trade they brought Renee Montgomery back. But that’s not how Connecticut bases their picks or their trades or anything like that. They try to make the best team that they can and obviously you have to be thrilled when you have the No.1 pick. Tina Charles has been outstanding this year and has played to the point where she’s the best post player in the country right now. It will obviously be great for Connecticut and their fan base because the Huskies have such great passionate fans and I’m sure a few of them who might not have watched the Sun play in the past, will become Sun fans b/c they’ll want to continue to follow Tina Charles’ career.”

Q: Can you give me your thoughts on Alysha Clark from Middle Tennessee, where she might be predicted to go and some obstacles she might face?

CP: “Well, I think that Alysha Clark has an opportunity to probably be taken in the first round. When you lead the nation in scoring, you have a tendency to attract some attention. What’s remarkable about what Alysha Clarke has been able to do at 5’10” and score the amount of points that she does, and she does it in the paint. Talking to Coach Rick Insill, she has a face-up game but played underneath the basket and on the block because that’s what her team needed her to do. She does have three-point range. We have seen her be able to rebound and handle the ball, bring it in transition, and the level of toughness she has is attractive to a few WNBA teams.”

RL: “Alysha, she’s a talented player. I think the question is her size. She’s 5’10” and she’s been playing in the post and in the WNBA, 5’10” is too small to play in the post. She has shown a face-up game, but that’s where the transition is going to have to happen for her. She’s going to have to play the three position and whether it’s playing a three that can post-up, but she’s going to have to be a three that can guard on the perimeter, that can make three-point shots consistently and have that face-up game. But she’s such a talented player. I don’t imagine she would go any later than the first round. But, she’s an interesting prospect just because she going to have to change positions in the WNBA.”

Q: Where do you think Andrea Riley might go, and how do you think her game might fare in the WNBA?

CP: “Well, Andrea Riley is one of the toughest players in the country, I think, to defend, because she’s got extreme range, and she can go off the dribble. She will have to go to a team that needs a scoring guard, but based on what I’m predicting, looking at what Coach Richardson is trying to put together, could she end up in Tulsa? Maybe. Her size, she’s a small guard, he likes players that are a little bit bigger. She has the athleticism, but they way she can score points, I think would make her attractive to a number of WNBA teams. She can score a whole lot of points very quickly. But, in the WNBA, she’s not going to be required to score as many by herself, she’s going to have other players that can score around her and seeing that aspect of her game, to be able to distribute the basketball while still maintaining being a part of the offense.”

RL: “I think Andrea is another interesting one. Again, you look at this Draft and you see kids, and you wouldn’t be surprised if they were taken in the middle of the first round and then you also wouldn’t surprised to see them taken at the end of the first round, or early in the second round. She’ll be great in a system with a coach who uses a lot of screen-and-rolls because she’s so good coming off the screen-and-roll. She’s a small guard who can obviously score, who is going to have to change her game a little bit and be more of a distributor, but she has that in her arsenal, so again, with some of these guards, if she went seventh to Tulsa, you wouldn’t be surprised but you also wouldn’t be surprised to see her go early in the second round.”

Q: How does Danielle McCray’s knee injury impact her Draft status and do you see her as a potential second round steal for someone who can afford to take her and sit on her for a year until she is healthy and can play next year?

RL: “The injury obviously had huge implications. This is a kid who, if she hadn’t been injured would have been a top five or six pick. Yeah, I think in the second round, she would be a steal for somebody who can wait a year and obviously there are no salary implications until she is able to play for that team’s cap. This is a really talented player, but it’s going be a team who’s in a situation where they don’t have to fill a need right now, where they don’t have to have a player who can help them win right now and who can wait a year. But there are those teams and she’s a player who, if you get her in the second round, it’s like getting a first round pick in 2011.”

CP: “I’m going to have to agree with Rebecca in that she would be a steal to get, but it would have to be with a team that can afford to wait for her to recover from that injury. There are few teams out there that have that luxury. When you look at the rosters of a lot of these teams, for some of younger players, it will be tough to make a roster. And then you have a player like Danielle McCray who is recovering from an injury to hold the rights to her because you have a roster that’s full for this year, I think she would be a steal.”

Q: Regarding Epiphanny Prince, how do you think Epiphanny’s choice to go pro and spend the year in Europe effects her Draft status, not being around for everyone to see for her final year? And how do you think it has affected her skills? Do you think she would be more improved?

CP: “I was just reading some articles today and some quotes that Epiphanny made about her decision to go pro and the experience that she has, and being a point guard and at Rutgers, she was required and relied on a lot to produce a lot of points and in the pros. If she’s going to play a point guard position, she’s also going to have to distribute and get some experience of understanding when she needs to be the scorer and when she needs to be the distributor. From the comments she made in some articles I think it has been an opportunity for her to learn that. She’s played against some pro international players now and that experience definitely would help her. I can see out of sight, maybe out of mind, but not a player like Epiphanny Prince. She’s such a talent, and with what she was able to do as a college player, you couple that with the experience she’s getting as a professional player, I think just raises her stock.”

RL: “Yeah, I have to agree. Epiphanny is in a unique situation. I don’t think a lot of players could have done what she did and be successful overseas, gotten the type of money that would have made it worth while. You see her as a top four pick in this draft if she had stayed and played at Rutgers this year and had a gang-buster year, maybe she moves up two spaces to number two so it’s not that big of a difference. I definitely don’t think it hurt her draft status at all, I think it in some people’s eyes, she is more pro-ready now after playing a full year overseas against pros, managing the lifestyle and all of that. So, I think it was for her the right decision and not one that has negatively impacted her draft status.”

CP: “One more thing too, is that one year of playing internationally can allow a player to grow up. One article said that she learned you can’t carry $10,000 through an airport, now why she would be carrying that much money, I don’t know, but she said that was a lesson learned, so she got a lot of off-the-court maturity as well.”

Q: How do you guys think Brittany Ray’s senior year, where she developed into more than just a pure shooter, how do you that helps her going into this draft as compared to where she would have been say, had she been a senior last year at this time?

CP: “With Brittany, I think that the experience that she had this year caused her game to expand. She was not able to be a specialty player, a three-point shooter only, she had to develop a game going off the bounce and being able to demonstrate that to coaches and GM’s in the WNBA would possibly get her a look that she might not have gotten otherwise, and definitely having been in the shadow of Epiphanny Prince, she would have been able to highlight more of being just that three-point shooter had they played together. Not having that opportunity, I think helped her to expand some things in her game I don’t think she would have otherwise.”

RL: “Also, if Epiphanny was there this year, the question would be how Brittany would have fared going against the other team’s best defender. Well, that’s what she faced this year. Every time Rutgers played somebody, she was getting their best defender and you got to see whatever she did, whatever she was able to produce, was against the best defender ever night, so I think that helps evaluate what she can do at the next level as well.”

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