Coach Kloppenburg’s 2009 Draft Breakdown: Part 4

With the 2009 WNBA Draft scheduled for April 9, spent some time with Indiana assistant coach Gary Kloppenburg to get his take on some of the nation’s top college prospects. will run a four-part feature on these prospects, with GK’s comments on some of the top players, alphabetically.

This is part four of the series. One of the top point guards in the draft is Kristi Toliver from Maryland.

Gary Kloppenburg: “Toliver is a skilled guard with a scorer’s mentality that has performed at a high level for her entire college career. An outstanding shooter off the dribble and off the screen with great range, she is a go-to player in crunch time that wants the ball and will take the big shots. She sees the floor as well as any point guard in the country, and is an excellent passer, especially in the running game.”

FB: How does she take her game to the next level?

GK: “She will occasionally turn the ball over too much and will need to cut down on some of her ballhandling errors at the next level. She will need to improve defensively to avoid being a rookie that teams exploit when she is in the game. She could get a little stronger to be able to match up with some of the physical guards that we have in the WNBA. No doubt, with her strong work ethic, she will be able to make these adjustments in the WNBA and develop into a premier guard in our league.”

FB: Tell us about Kia Vaughn of Rutgers.

GK: “Kia Vaughn, she’s kind of got the Dwight Howard type of body. She’s a great athlete. She’s worked hard to become a strong, strong player. She’s a skilled inside player that can also pull out and make 15-footers. I think she’s got a lot of potential moving forward to the next level.”

FB: How does she improve?

GK:“I’d like to see her rebound a little bit more. I think sometimes she sometimes watches too much, and I think at our level I’d would want to emphasize with her to try and get on the boards at both ends of the floor, and more consistently.”

FB: Ok, Ashley Walker from Cal.

GK:“Ashley is a nice player. Again, I think she’s fallen under the radar a little bit. You don’t get to see Cal as much, but she’s showing now, in the tournament, what kind of player she can be. I think she can be an Asjha Jones type of player in our league. She can shoot from 15 to 18 feet. She can put it on the floor. She can post up, she’s high-energy, an excellent rebounder who can run. She’s very athletic, I like her alot. I think she has a chance to be a real nice player in our league as a power forward. The area I think she needs to keep working on, is being able to possibly develop into a 3, and improve her perimeter game. She’s really a 4 at our level. She’s a small 4, but I think she has the athletic ability to play the 3 if she improves her ball handling and her outside shooting.”

FB: The way that you’re talking about her reminds me of the transition, the evolution that we’ve seen with Ebony Hoffman.

GK: “Yeah, yeah. That would be a pretty good comparison I think. You know they’ve had her playing more inside at Cal, but I think she’s athletic enough that she could develop that perimeter game more.”

FB: Ok, Abby Waner of Duke?

GK: “Abby Waner, she’s another energy player, very intelligent. She can play a couple different spots. You could probably play her anywhere from 1 through 3 in our league because she can play the point or you can swing her out to the three. She’s been in a winning program, and she knows how to play. She knows how to win. The area that she really needs to improve is her consistency as an outside shooter. She’s a good shooter. I felt like she rushed herself at times during this year and didn’t always get a good look. It felt, to me, like she was rushing herself. I think she needs to learn how to slow down, settle down and knock down those open shots because I think she really is a good shooter.”

FB: Christina Wirth from Vanderbilt?

GK: “I’d compare Wirth a little bit to Catherine Kraayeveld in New York. She’s not quite as big as Kraayeveld, but she can pull outside and shoot it. I think she has the ability to put it on the floor better than Kraayeveld, but she’s one of the best pure shooters in this draft, and she’s another versatile player than can play inside and outside. You can kind of move her around a bit, but her ability to shoot the ball is very valuable. She can probably shoot the ball as well as anyone in this draft.”

FB: Ok, what does she have to do to get better?

GK: “I think just her adjustment to the athleticism in our league. I think that will be the one area where’s she’s going to need to improve. If she has those quick defenders on her, finding a way to score against quick defenders, coming off screens, catch and shoot – those are the things I think she’ll need to improve to be a productive WNBA player.”

FB: Ok, Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton from Purdue?

GK: Wisdom-Hylton is another one that’s a real solid power forward. For her size, she can shoot outside. She also has the ability to play on the floor from those elbow areas. She is a strong rebounder, she knows how to play, and she’s a tough defender. I like her because she’s kind of a quiet leader on a very good team. She leads by example, and I think you saw Purdue in the Elite Eight, in large part, because of her.

FB: A combo guard, Shavonte Zellous from Pittsburgh?

GK: “Zellous is a streak scorer. She can score in bunches and really get it going. She’s another kind of microwave type, as I call them. She can get it going. She has the ability to score 30-plus.”

FB: You sound like the next Dick Vitale with your lingo. What more does she need to do?

GK: “Yeah, she can go for 30 you know, she’s a streak scorer. She’s also a good-sized 2 guard. She’s really a pure 2 guard, a good rebounding guard who can shoot the three. When you put her on the floor, she’s a scorer. The area I see where she probably needs to improve is just handling the ball. Sometimes her decision-making is a little erratic and she turns the ball over. She’ll want to improve in that area, just settle down and learn how to make the right play at our level.”