By Kara Lawson, Sacramento MonarchsJessica Davenport, forward, Ohio State
Ivory Latta, guard, North Carolina
I love her emotion for the game. I love the emotion that she plays with. Her biggest adjustment will be wrapping her arms around being a point guard and understanding what that entails at the WNBA level: running your offense, getting people the ball. She's had to be a scorer for (North Carolina), but she'll have to make a subtle shift. I like offensive-minded point guards, don't get me wrong. I'm not into the "pass first, then get out of the way." I like players who can score and I like that part about her game.
I think she's a more well-rounded player (than Latta). She has good size for a point guard, whereas Ivory is a little smaller. She's sturdy and is excellent on the ball defensively. She has great quickness. Her offensive game has improved a lot since earlier in her career. She can knock down the open shot, she has great quickness in going toward the basket and she's smart. She's a fifth-year player… she's 23 years old, so she knows how to play. She's one you won't have to worry about. She's going to come in and do her job.
Noelle Quinn, guard, UCLA
She's a player who can really score. The thing that impressed me most when I saw her against Cal last year is that she can really pass the basketball. She has a great sense offensively of where everyone is, and she's a big guard. And she can shoot it.
Allison Bales, center, Duke
Like Davenport, Bales is a player who doesn't need the basketball to be successful. She can change the game defensively with her size, blocking shots. I think she needs to improve her toughness coming into the WNBA, banging around, being more physical on the blocks. It's brutal in there. She's gotten tougher as she's been in school, but I don't know if she's ready to bang yet.
A supremely talented, unbelievable athlete. I love watching her play. She gets up and down so well. You look at her body and know that she's a pro athlete. She can do it all: score, defend. She's one of those players who, even as a four, is totally capable of guarding the other team's point guard. With Tiffany, the problems have been focus and consistency. She has to come in and be focused and serious about playing well in this league. If she can do that, she'll be successful.
Camille Little, forward,
I like her upside a lot. She's a swing-type player, but I like her better as a four in our league because she'd present matchup problems. I'm not in any way comparing her to Tina Thompson, but like Tina or Lauren (Jackson?), she's capable of stepping out and hitting a three when she needs to. And that mobility presents problems. And like Tiffany (Jackson), she's athletic enough to match up well with anyone.
Chrissy Givens, Middle Tennessee
Yes, she plays at a smaller school, but she is a legit first-rounder. I am looking forward to seeing her play more.
Price, guard, Mississippi
Another great athlete. She's really, really good defensively, makes a ton of steals, and is a great rebounding guard. I think she will adapt really well, though she needs to add a consistent 3-point shot to do well in our league. She's another player with a pro body who will step in and help a team. She may not start, but she'll help a team.
Smith, center, Stanford
The thing that stands out about her is her fundamentals. She put on a clinic last year in the tournament against Courtney Paris: right, left, up and under, hook, this side, that side. She understands the game. She has great post moves. She'll have a tough time from an athleticism standpoint. She's 6-3, so I don't know if she'll be a five. So if she's a four, is she athletic enough to guard Lauren (Jackson), Tina, Catchings, DeMya, Holdsclaw. It's a lot to ask. And it's the same thing with toughness, handling the bang of the league.
To me, four is the hardest position for a player to play coming into the pro game from college because the fours are so different in the pro game. Point guards are the same. They're quick, they can pass, they're the same. Twos are the same, they're quick, they can shoot. With fours, you get up to the pros and you're like "holy crap," they're among the best 3-point shooters in the league. You play them on a pick and roll, and all of a sudden, they can pop out and hit a jumper.
Katie Gearlds, guard, Purdue
Katie Douglas was a better shooter coming out of school, but you can't deny Gearlds' ability to shoot the basketball. Like in the NBA, that skill will always make you valuable. You always need someone who can knock down a shot, because there aren't a lot of players who can. And she's a big guard, too, so that helps her.
Hairston, forward, Temple
The first game I ever did for ESPN was Temple in 2004. Hairston was a freshman, Dupree was a sophomore. I loved both of them from the start. They both have great demeanors. Hairston really wants to be good. There are some players who are athletic or who have always been good. She really wants to be good. She works at it in practice and she really wants to be a go-to player and have her role increased. She probably needs to get a little bit stronger, but she has a good body. I'm just really big on players who want to be good… on those who want to work hard. Over the long term, I think that supersedes everything else. You look at the players in our league who have succeeded, and it's the ones who have really, really wanted to be good.