2012 WNBA Draft Recap


Samantha Prahalis may have found the perfect team for her game in the Phoenix Mercury, who selected her sixth overall.
Brian Babibeau/NBAE/Getty Images

With the 2012 WNBA Draft presented by Boost Mobile in the past, teams can now focus on filling out their rosters for training camp. The draft, which took place at ESPN Studios in Bristol, Conn. contained, as was to be expected, a fair share of surprises. It also, however, produced some picks that seemed like logical destinations for both the team and player. Find out below how your team fared – and if it addressed its most pressing needs – in this team-by-team breakdown of the draft.

Western Conference

Los Angeles Sparks
Picks:
No. 1: Nneka Ogwumike, Stanford
No. 13: Farhiya Abdi – Sweden
No. 15: Khadijah Rushdan – Rutgers
No. 16: Tyra White – Texas A&M
No. 28: April Sykes - Rutgers

Analysis:
The Sparks got the crown jewel of this draft in Stanford’s Nneka Ogwumike. She is the kind of talent that can make a big impact right away and that is why she was the clear-cut No. 1 pick in this draft. The 6-foot-2 forward will join Candace Parker, Nicky Anosike and DeLisha Milton-Jones to form one of the league’s most formidable frontlines.

Later in the draft, L.A. added proven guards in Rutgers’ Khadijah Rushdan and Texas A&M’s Tyra White, who helped lead the Aggies to a National Championship in 2011, and they both figure to compete for spots on the roster in training camp. 6-foot-2 Farhiya Abdi from the Sweden, selected with the first pick in the second round, is a project for the future.


Phoenix Mercury
Picks:
No. 6: Samantha Prahalis – Ohio State
No. 24: C’eira Ricketts - Arkansas
No. 30: Christine Flores – Missouri
No. 33: Amanda Johnson - Oregon

Analysis:
Phoenix needed a point guard after shipping Temeka Johnson to Tulsa. And, despite Phoenix Head Coach Corey Gaines being coy about Samantha Prahalis before the draft, the Mercury made the pick that seemed to make sense to everyone else. It is going to be exciting to see what Prahalis can do in Gaines’ up-tempo system with Diana Taurasi and Co. It has the potential to be as explosive as ever, and this may have been the best possible fit for Prahalis of any WNBA team.

In the second round, keeping with the theme of finding players that fit Gaines’ system, the Mercury selected a guard that Gaines highlighted before the draft as a potential target in C’eira Ricketts. Rickets will have a chance to develop slowly behind the Mercury’s other guards. But, Gaines thinks that the Arkansas product can eventually thrive in this powerful offensive attack.


Minnesota Lynx
Picks:
No. 3: Devereaux Peters – Notre Dame
No. 12: Damiris Dantas – Brazil
No. 18: Julie Wojta – Wisconsin-Green Bay
No. 19: Kayla Standish – Gonzaga
No. 20: Nika Baric – Slovenia
No. 29: Jacki Gemelos - USC

Analysis:
It’s hard to say if the Lynx drafted for need or not – because they seemingly don’t have any. To the surprise of some, they drafted Notre Dame’s Devereaux Peters with the No. 3 pick, but she is just the kind of player – one that can do all the dirty work – that can flush out a championship roster. She will also add depth to a talented, yet aging frontcourt.

Second round picks Julie Wojta and Kayla Standish, who put up gaudy numbers at Wisconsin-Green Bay and Gonzaga respectively, will have an opportunity to prove themselves in training camp, especially with three Lynx players prepping for the Olympics, but cracking the roster of the defending champs will not be easy.


San Antonio Silver Stars
Picks:
No. 5: Shenise Johnson – Miami

Analysis:
The Silver Stars had to be a little surprised that Miami’s Shenise Johnson slipped to them at No. 5. While San Antonio was looking to add size, Johnson was too big of a talent to let slip by. She has a chance to be a true star in this league, and Coach Dan Hughes will now have the luxury of adding her to an already solid rotation on the wing.

With only one pick in this year’s draft, the Silver Stars were not able to add more length, something they started to do it free agency. Luckily for them, Johnson, who graduated as only the second player in Division I history with 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 500 assists and 400 steals, fills the roles of a few players out there.


Seattle Storm
Picks:
No. 2: Shekinna Stricklen - Tennessee
No. 22: Keisha Hampton - DePaul

Analysis:
The Storm traded Swin Cash and Le’Coe Willingham for the No. 2 pick and they drafted their heir apparent to Cash in Shekinna Stricklen. A versatile 6-foot-2 forward, Stricklen is likely to be afforded the opportunity to play substantial minutes this year -- if she earns them. Fortunately for Seattle, however, Stricklen has the benefit of being able to develop slowly with a veteran roster already in place. There’s not much Stricklen can’t do, she averaged 15.4 and 6.6 rebounds in what some considered to be a down season her senior year, and figures to complement Sue Bird nicely for years to come.

The Storm rounded out their draft with the selection of Keisha Hampton, an intriguing prospect near the end of the second round. An explosive 6-foot-2 wing, Hampton averaged 16.6 points in 12 games before missing the rest of last season with a right knee injury. She will not report to training camp until the 2013 season.


Tulsa Shock
Picks:
No. 4: Glory Johnson – Tennessee
No. 17: Riquna Williams – Miami
No. 25: Vicki Baugh – Tennessee
No. 29: Lynetta Kizer - Maryland

Analysis:
The Shock have an impressive haul of draft picks, actually selecting four of the 15 players that were invited to attend the draft. This is a team that finished last in rebounding last year, so they added 6-foot-3 Glory Johnson, Johnson’s teammate from Tennessee in 6-foot-4 Vicki Baugh and 6-foot-4 Lynetta Kizer, which is sure to turn out to be a great training camp competition. Those three draftees combined to average 22.1 rebounds per game last year, just about 8.5 less than the entire Tulsa team last year.

A team that struggled scoring the basketball as well, Tulsa was very fortunate to have Miami guard Riquna Williams fall to them in the second round. Williams is one of the most explosive players in the draft, averaging 19.6, 21.7 and 16.6 points per game her sophomore, junior and senior seasons respectively. She could turn into one of the steals of the draft.


Eastern Conference

Atlanta Dream
Picks:
No. 24: Tiffany Hayes - Connecticut
No. 30: Isabelle Yacoubou - France

Analysis:
Tiffany Hayes has first-round talent and fell to Atlanta in the second round. While Atlanta would have preferred a post player with its first selection, the opportunity to draft Hayes, which fit under its “best athlete available” philosophy was likely the reason for this pick. Hayes is a terrific perimeter shooter – shooting 41 percent from 3-point range her senior season – and she could take some pressure off all-everything forward Angel McCoughtry.


Chicago Sky
Picks:
No. 23: Shey Peddy – Temple
No. 27: Sydney Carter - Texas A&M

Analysis:
With no pick until the second to last pick in the second round, the Sky were quiet on draft day. With their two selections, however, they did draft for need. Their top need was to add some defensive stoppers and their first selection, Shey Peddy, was the 2011-12 Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year. She also shot 37 percent from 3-point range, another area of interest for the Sky.

Backcourt depth was also a key and that’s where Sydney Carter comes into play. She is a winner, having won the National Championship with Texas A&M in 2011. The 5-foot-6 guard also was named to the Big 12 All-Defensive Team this past season.


Connecticut Sun
Picks:
No. 10: Astan Dabo - Mali
No. 21: Chay Shegog - North Carolina

Analysis:
Connecticut came into this draft doubting that whoever it selected at No. 9 could even challenge for a spot in its rotation. So, like many teams in this situation, they went the international route, adding 6-foot-8 center Astan Dabo, a 19-year-old member of the Mali national team. This is a pick for the future, of course, and it could pay dividends for the Sun down the line.

In the second round, the Sun added more size, drafting 6-foot-5 center Clay Shegog who averaged 15.6 points and 6.9 rebounds for North Carolina last year. She will have her work cut out for her in terms of making this playoff-ready roster, but 6-foot-5 size is something you can’t teach, and presumably why the Sun wanted to bring Shegog into training camp.


Indiana Fever
Picks:
No. 11: Sasha Goodlett – Georgia Tech
No. 34: Courtney Hurt - VCU

Analysis:
It’s all about size for Indiana, which finished 10th in the league in rebounding last year. Sasha Goodlett is a towering 6-foot-5 and she is likely to have an immediate impact in the paint for the Fever. A re-dedicated Goodlett had a much improved senior season, averaging 14.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, and with the right coaching, she can develop into a bona fide true center in this league.

The selection of Courtney Hurt is an interesting one in the third round. You can’t knock Hurt’s production, she graduated as VCU’s all-time leading scorer and arguably the best player in that program’s history, and if she is able to make the roster, she could give the Fever a boost in the scoring department.


New York Liberty
Picks:
No. 7: Kelley Cain – Tennessee
No. 36: Katelan Redmon - Gonzaga

Analysis:
After talking with Coach Whisenant before the draft, the Liberty seemed like a team that didn’t really have any angle in the draft. They had limited roster spots open and the players they predicted to be available at No. 7 didn’t exactly fill their needs. So, in what might have been the biggest surprise of the first round, they selected 6-foot-6 Kelly Cain from Tennessee, who decided to forgo her last season of eligibility at Tennessee due to knee and hip problems.

New York rolled the dice and obviously drafted with the future in mind. It is unclear whether or not Cain, who played last season in Turkey, will even be able to continue to play basketball year round, but if she does, it could turn into a wise pick as she could step in and make an immediate impact on New York’s interior defense. Katelan Redmon, the last pick in the draft, became the second Gonzaga player drafted, the first time two Bulldogs were selected in the same year.


Washington Mystics
Picks:
No. 8: Natalie Novosel – Notre Dame
No. 10: LaSondra Barrett – LSU
No. 26: Anjale Barrett – Maryland
No. 35: Briana Gilbreath - USC

Analysis:
The Mystics wanted a wing that could shoot from the outside and a big that could stretch the floor. That is exactly what they got in the first round. First they selected sharpshooter Natalie Novosel who shot 41 percent from 3-point range as a senior. She is an efficient scorer that will extend defenses to give Crystal Langhorne more room in the post.

The addition of LaSondra Barret gives the Mystics a versatile big that can stretch the floor and play multiple positions. The 6-foot-2 forward played all five positions her senior year and hit 39 percent of her 3-point attempts, but also pulled down 7.1 rebounds per game. Translation: Trudi Lacey’s offense just got a lot more dynamic.