2004 WNBA Draft Prospect Tracker

as of March 25
Diana Taurasi, UConn
Alana Beard, Duke
Nicole Powell, Stanford
Chandi Jones, Houston
Lindsay Whalen, Minnesota
Kelly Mazzante, Penn State
Nicole Ohlde, Kansas State
Vanessa Hayden, Florida
Shemeka Christon, Arkansas
10. Rebekkah Brunson, Georgetown

By Rebecca Lobo
March 25, 2004

The 2004 class has been called the best ever by WNBA coaches and GMs. (Of course, that means it's the best in the past 7 years --since the first draft was in 1997.) Diana Taurasi is the clear cut number one and Beard will be taken two. After that, it's anybody's guess. How the kids play in the NCAA tournament might effect draft position too. Here's how I see the top 10 shaping up right now...

1. Diana Taurasi (Connecticut):
3/25: If it's possible for D to make her stock rise, she did it with a great showing in the first two rounds. And her shooting touch is back.
3/17: She's a stud. The '03 Player of the Year has more confidence than Tony Siragusa at a pie-eating contest. Her numbers are down a little this year because she's been battling nagging ankle and back injuries, but no one is more of a big-game player than Taurasi. Every GM in the Draft would take her with the first pick.

2. Alana Beard (Duke):
3/25: Beard only had eight points in the team's opening round game against Northwestern State but she did everything else (8 boards, 9 assists, 3 steals). And, when her team needed her to score against Marquette, she got 30.
3/17: Beard is putting up Player of the Year numbers (20 points, 5 rebounds per game) and is a terrific defender. She has added a decent jump shot to go with her stellar driving game. This shy Blue Devil has a strong, solid physique and will start right away for the team that takes her.

Coming soon:
• Swin and Kara Head-to-Head
• Sue and Tamika Head-to-Head
• WNBA Player NCAA Tournament Memories

full NCAA coverage on ESPN.com
3. Nicole Powell (Stanford):
3/25: She continues to do everything for Stanford -- and that's what we've all come to expect.
3/17: While Powell looks like she could be fellow Cardinal Tiger Woods' sister, I have no idea if she has game on the links. However, on the court, Powell could be the most versatile player in the Draft. She's 6'2" and can play any position on the floor. She does everything for Stanford (20 ppg, 11 rpg) and is a one-woman show in Palo Alto.

4. Chandi Jones (Houston):
3/25: Her stock would have risen a little if she had made the last second three to put her team in the Sweet Sixteen.
3/17: Jones led the nation in scoring in '03 and her average this year is down to 22.5 ppg. She's a smooth player who can drain the deep three, hit the pull-up J, or take it all the way to the hole. Her jump-stop is very Swoopes-like and she can score in bunches like the WNBA MVP. She doesn't force shots and she'll keep her post players happy with her unselfish play.

5. Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota):
3/25: She showed how valuable she is to the Gophers by leading them to an upset win over #2 seed Kansas State. She answered any questions regarding how her hand injury would effect her game.
3/17: Whalen broke two bones in her shooting hand a few weeks ago, but hopes to be back in time for the NCAA Tournament. She's a tough kid who plays with the intensity of Allen Iverson (without the rows and tattoos). She can score from anywhere and will be a solid 2-guard in the WNBA.

6. Kelly Mazzante (Penn State):
3/25: This kid's stock will really rise if she can lead her team to a victory at the Hartford Civic Center over UConn.
3/17: She's the all-time leading scorer in Big 10 history -- men's or women's. She has NBA range and is Dan Marino-quick with her release. The 6'0" guard also has a decent handle and plays good D.

7. Nicole Ohlde (Kansas State): She's an Ohlde-but-goody, a legit 6'5", runs the floor well, and can shoot from the perimeter. She can also put the ball on the floor. She's a pretty appealing prospect, especially for teams in the West who have to deal with Lauren Jackson, Lisa Leslie, and Yolanda on a daily basis.

NBA TV analyst Rebecca Lobo tracks the prospects.
Attiba Jefferson
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8. Vanessa Hayden (Florida):
3/25: She spent the tournament in foul trouble and needs to learn how to stay on the court. Florida suffered whenever she was forced to the bench.
3/17: Coach Carolyn Peck calls her, "the best center in the country." Her numbers against Georgia in the SEC quarterfinal: 26 points, 12 rebounds. She won't average those numbers in the WNBA, but she'll be a force in the lane.

9. Shemeka Christon (Arkansas): The 6-1 senior was named SEC Player of the Year after averaging 21.8 points and 7 rebounds per game. She's athletic, can shoot the three, and gets to the free throw line. Unfortunately, we might not be able to track her progress in the tourney because Arkansas is a bubble-team.

10. Rebekkah Brunson (Georgetown): This kid can sit back and rest up for the Draft because her Georgetown team has as much chance of stepping on the dance floor as an ugly 7th grader with B.O. Even if she isn't dancing this March, Brunson can hoop at the highest level. She averaged 19 points and 12 boards a game and led the Big East in both categories. She's 6-3, lean, and has the body of a thoroughbred. She can play with her back to the basket or put the ball on the floor.

Others to keep an eye on:
Iciss Tillis (Duke)
Shereka Wright (Purdue)
Tera Bjorkland (Colorado)
Christi Thomas (Georgia)

Rebecca will be updating her prospect rankings each week until the 2004 WNBA Draft on April 17.

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