2004 WNBA Draft Analysis: Forwards

While the forward prospects in the 2004 WNBA Draft class are not on the same elite level as the guards - if you call Nicole Powell a guard, the top five prospects might be guards - there is plenty of depth, and several forwards should be selected late in the first round and early in round number two.

Despite having a solid pair of small forwards in Adia Barnes and Amanda Lassiter and the WNBA's MVP, Lauren Jackson, at power forward, the Storm could look at a forward, particularly one who could play alongside Barnes and Lassiter on the wing or up front with Jackson - especially if they consider that player the best available.

Nicole Powell
(WNBA.com profile)
The numbers: 20.2 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 4.1 apg, 1.9 spg
The measurements: 6-1, 170
College: Stanford
The skinny: Frustrated University of Washington women's fans will be pleased to know that Powell is likely headed to the Eastern Conference, where she'll torment their favorite team just twice a year at most. The 2002 and 2004 Pac-10 Player of the Year, Powell missed a year in between both because of the UW's Giuliana Mendiola and because injuries limited her to 20 games. Even when opposing defenses held Powell's scoring in check - which, despite her 20+ points per game, occurred at times, as she shot just 42.8% from the field - she could still dominate a game with her rebounding and ability to create shots for teammates. Facing less defensive pressure, Powell should shoot better in the WNBA, and she is versatile enough to play at least three and maybe four positions. She probably goes third to Charlotte, a worthy member of the top three with Diana Taurasi and Alana Beard.
Storm outlook: It's an extreme longshot that Powell is left on the board by pick six.

Shameka Christon
(WNBA.com profile)
The numbers: 21.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 1.7 spg, 1.6 bpg
The measurements: 6-1, 172
College: Arkansas
The skinny: You can be forgiven if you're not really familiar with Christon's game; she played in relative obscurity on an Arkansas team that did not make the NCAA Tournament. Nonetheless, after winning SEC Player of the Year, Christon has emerged as one of the top ten prospects in this year's draft and almost certainly a first-round pick. Christon's career 44.2% shooting at Arkansas is a concern for a forward, though she does spend plenty of time behind the three-point line (47 threes last year, a career high). Statistically, Christon shines on defense, picking up better than a steal and a half and a block and a half per game at 6-1. That's reminiscent of Lassiter, and Christon has more size to play inside. Christon's stock has shot up since the end of the season, and she might not even be around by the time the Storm picks.
Storm outlook: Storm Coach Anne Donovan cited Christon to WNBA.com as one of two players she had her eye on for the sixth pick, so she's definitely a possibility.

Rebekkah Brunson
(WNBA.com profile)
The numbers: 19.1 ppg, 12.0 rpg, 48.5% fgs, 1.7 spg, 1.8 bpg
The measurements: 6-3, 175
College: Georgetown
The skinny: Like Christon, Brunson shined for a team that achieved only modest success. Despite leading the Big East in scoring and rebounding and winning conference Defensive Player of the Year honors, Brunson was overlooked in All-American voting, finishing as an Honorable Mention. Brunson is tough down low, shooting 48.5% from the field and earning more than seven trips to the free-throw line a night. On the other end, Brunson is a good shot-blocker who holds first and second place in Georgetown history in that category. At 6-3, she's on the small side to play the pivot in the WNBA and even a little undersized at power forward, but she should be able to overcome and become a fine player.
Storm outlook: Likely to go between the Storm's picks.

Iciss Tillis
(WNBA.com profile)
The numbers: 12.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.8 spg
The measurements: 6-5, 165
College: Duke
The skinny: Tillis entered her senior year at Duke as one of the season's biggest question marks. Would she have the breakout season expected of her, or continue to be a good (but not great) performer? Instead, Tillis went backwards a bit, seeing her scoring and rebounding averages and her field-goal percentage all drop from her junior year, which won't help her in the draft. Tillis still has the talent, which means she will likely be a first-round pick by a team which believes it has the ability to get her to make good on her potential. Did you know? Tillis' father, James, aka "Quick", was a boxer who was the first fighter to go the distance with Mike Tyson early in his career.
Storm outlook: Likely to go between the Storm's picks.

Shereka Wright
(WNBA.com profile)
The numbers: 20.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.3 apg, 49.4% fg
The measurements: 5-10, 155
College: Purdue
The skinny: Playing in the Big Ten, Wright was occasionally overshadowed by high-scoring guards Lindsay Whalen and Kelly Mazzante. While they'll likely go ahead of her in the draft as well, Wright is deserving of her own accolades. She averaged 20.1 points per game for a good Purdue team that was upset in the Seattle regional semifinals. What's interesting is how Wright has become a star. At 5-10, she is on the small side for a WNBA small forward and may have to shift to shooting guard as a professional, at least part of the time. Nonetheless, Wright lived at the free-throw line last season, averaging better than eight attempts per game. As a rookie, she won't get the same benefit of the doubt when it comes to calls, but that fearless ability to drive the lane should serve her well throughout her career. Despite her height, Wright grabbed nearly as many rebounds per minute as the athletic Christon.
Storm outlook: Likely to go between the Storm's picks.

Stacy Stephens
(WNBA.com profile)
The numbers: 11.6 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 54.7% fg
The measurements: 6-4, 205
College: Texas
The skinny: Stephens wins this year's award for most questionable official pre-draft measurement. Despite being listed by both her own school and USA Basketball at 6-1 - a measurement confirmed by observation - Stephens officially checks in at a healthy 6-4. If Stephens were really 6-4, she'd be a WNBA center and probably a top ten pick. As it is, she will almost certainly have to transition to power forward in the pros and still face a substantial height disadvantage there. Stephens certainly can play. Despite her height, she is a good rebounder who pulled down better than eight boards per game in about 26 minutes of action for the Longhorns. She also shot an outstanding 54.7% from the field, mostly sticking to relatively easy shots around the lane. Those shots will be harder to come by in the WNBA, but Stephens is still a possible first-round pick and should be a useful backup at worst.
Storm outlook: Likely to go between the Storm's picks.

Jenni Benningfield
(WNBA.com profile)
The numbers: 13.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.5 apg, 48.5% fg
The measurements: 6-3, 185
The skinny: Benningfield is one of several players who could be the sixth forward taken after Stephens goes (barring something unforeseen). Benningfield was at her best as a junior, when she averaged 16.5 points per game while shooting an excellent 55.6% from the field. Last season, she wasn't as effective, seeing both her shooting percentage and her scoring average slip. Still, Benningfield's 48.5% shooting was not bad. Of bigger concern is her rebounding. Benningfield pulled down a paltry 9.3 rebounds per 40 minutes, worse than any of the power forwards whose stats STORM.WNBA.COM broke down last week. At 6-3, her height will not help her.
Storm outlook: Possible second-round pick, though not really a need-filler for the Storm.

Ashley Robinson
(WNBA.com profile)
The numbers: 8.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.6 apg, 2.0 bpg, 48.6% fg
The measurements: 6-4, 180
College: Tennessee
The skinny: You want odd career progressions? Robinson's points per game, year-by-year, with the Lady Vols: 8.9, 4.7, 5.8, 8.1. After a promising first season, where she made the All-SEC Freshman team, Robinson was never again nearly as effective offensively. At that point, Robinson was considered a future star (she was a top recruit entering Tennessee), but a torn ACL suffered during the summer after her freshman year took away much of her offense. WNBA teams won't be drafting Robinson because of her scoring. Instead, they'll be looking at her defensively. Robinson blocked 216 shots over her four-year career, good enough for third all-time at Tennessee. Robinson has more than enough size to play center as well as forward in the WNBA, and a team will take a look at her in the second or third round.
Storm outlook: Possible second-round pick.

Amisha Carter
(WNBA.com profile)
The numbers: 16.9 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 50.5% fg, 2.0 spg, 1.2 bpg
The measurements: 6-2, 179
College: Louisiana Tech
The skinny: She's a Lady Techster who was named WAC Player of the Year and is a monster on the boards. Stop me if this sounds familiar. That describes Detroit Shock forward Cheryl Ford, last year's WNBA Rookie of the Year. It also describes her replacement in the starting lineup at Louisiana Tech, Carter, who won this year's Player of the Year honors. A transfer from Midland College, Carter averaged six points per game off the bench during her junior season. Last year she exploded, leading the WAC in scoring and rebounding. She doesn't have the high pedigree of Ford and won't be as good, but despite being undersized at 6-2, Carter can contribute in the WNBA.
Storm outlook: Possible second-round pick, though not really a need-filler for the Storm.

Catrina Frierson
(WNBA.com profile)
The numbers: 16.2 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 50.8% fg, 1.3 spg
The measurements: 6-2, 186
College: Louisiana Tech
The skinny: Who was Carter's primary competition for WAC Player of the Year? Frierson, who was expected to replace Ford as Tech's go-to player and did earn her second consecutive selection to the All-WAC first team. Frierson's story is similar to Robinson's. A highly-regarded player in high school, Frierson averaged double-figures as a freshman before hurting her knee the following summer. Frierson missed the entire season and returned as a role player, but she worked her way back into shape and returned to star status the last two seasons. At 23 and a half, Frierson probably doesn't have the upside that Carter has, but can be a useful WNBA player.
Storm outlook: Possible second-round pick, though not really a need-filler for the Storm.