Scouting the Top College Seniors
Offseason News and Notes

By Ann Meyers,

December 17- The WNBA offseason gives us a chance to take a closer look at the future stars of the league as they compete in their college season, which tipped off about a month or so ago. Having worked a few of the games for ESPN already this season, I am now on a break until the middle of January. But here are some thoughts on some of the WNBA prospects that I will be keeping an eye on between now and April.

Movement: Expect the Unexpected

The 2005 WNBA Draft will be interesting now that Charlotte was able to get the top overall pick. Poor San Antonio. However, the hard part for us right now is not knowing what trades will transpire through free agency and/or trades. I really do see teams really trying to make some moves before the Draft takes place.

I do not know what are the real rumors or not, but it would not surprise me to see several teams pull off some trades in the next few months. In the first few years, it was difficult to execute and take advantage of them, but going into the ninth season, I do not think teams are as bothered by trades at all.

Depending on what teams decide to do, there could be several big name players ending up as free agents as well - Dawn Staley and Yolanda Griffith just to name a few. Will teams stay with some of these older players who make more money but whose production could potentially begin to decline? That question will play a big part as far as what movement takes place.

Even when the Draft takes place, I am not so sure that these kids will stay where they were selected. Last year, a lot of rookies were kept on teams not only because they were good, but a lot had to do with the salary cap as well. There were a lot of good, veteran players in their second or third year that did not get picked up, instead getting replaced on rosters by the rookies. Just look at the Sun this past season - they had three rookies on their team but cut Courtney Coleman from Ohio State who was going into her second or third year.

Getting Drafty

All of that said, I do not think that this senior class will have the same impact that last year's rookies had. It will be tough for next year's newcomers to come in and make an immediate difference.

In no particular order, here are the top players I see as having the best chance of going high in the Draft and then making a roster:

Janell McCarville Tanisha Wright
Jacqueline Batteast Temeka Johnson
Kendra Wecker Jamie Carey
Shyra Ely Sandora Irvin
Tan White

The one position that has a few players that might be able to make their presence felt is point guard, though it will be tough since they have the ball in their hands at all times. Lindsay Whalen proved that it can be done, but it obviously depends on the team, the coach and how things play out. But teams are definitely looking for backup point guards.

Johnson, Carey, Tan White and Loree Moore are the big names here. I really like Temeka Johnson (only 5-3!) and Jamie Carey because of their leadership. I know a lot of people are not as high on them, but they are gutsy and would fit well on a WNBA team. The ability to hit the 3-pointer will be to Carey's advantage and she can also set people up. I like her game and I like what she does.

McCarville, because of her size, probably has the best chance at making an impact of anyone in the Draft. She is recovering from a hand injury but there is no reason to think that she isn't ready to go. Irvin reminds me a lot of Rebekkah Brunson and could be that kind of player. Unfortunately, T.C.U. does not play in a great conference so it will be difficult to tell.

Batteast will be a swing player in this league along the lines of a Sheryl Swoopes or a Sheri Sam. With her size, she is long and lanky. I just don't know what her impact will be. She still has something to prove as far as I am concerned, and I was surprised that she received as many preseason accolades as she did. Of course, playing in the Big East will help her. Meanwhile, Wecker is more of a two-guard. She is tough, hard-nosed, can shoot the 3-pointer and can handle the ball.

Tan White just might be the top guard taken in the Draft. I would put her in my top five along with Penn State's Tanisha Wright, a shooting guard. As for Shyra Ely, I think she could be a top pick even though I am not sure how keen I am on her just yet. She was one of the few underclass All-America players last year, but she has been inconsistent so far this season.

To Be Continued...

There are several other talented players who I think will get drafted and have the potential to make a team, but there are still questions surrounding them. Heather Schreiber, from Texas, is off to a tough start and has been inconsistent for me this season. Arizona's Dee Dee Wheeler is a nice player, but she is going to have to get more physical. She is about 5-10 and plays like Houston's Felicia Ragland.

The two UConn seniors, Ashley Battle and Jessica Moore, will also be picked up. Battle can defend a lot of different positions and she reminds me a lot of a player like Semeka Randall, who just retired. Moore has to develop a 15-foot shot and get quicker, though she has been playing well since her knee injury.

Houston center Sancho Lyttle has also garnered high praise, though I have not seen enough of her just yet to come to any conclusions. Meanwhile, another highly touted player, Cappie Pondexter from Rutgers, has yet to play this season, so I cannot really talk about her.

Finally, I think it would be a mistake for two very talented players, Monique Curry or Shawntinice Polk, to come out and enter the Draft after this season. Both have another year of eligibility and I believe they should take advantage of that. I think both would go high in the Draft, but both could benefit from the everyday play that another year of college will give them.

So many questions to be answered...