2009 WNBA Pre-Draft Conference Call: ESPN Analysts

Opening Statements

ESPN Reporter Nancy Lieberman “I am excited because I think of where this league started in 1997 and now we see this 2009 draft class. There are some really talented players who are going to make a difference in the WNBA this year. I think this will be a very deep Draft , these are players we have seen over the past four years and they’ve become household names in women’s basketball, they have a fan base and they deliver the goods on many levels. I think this will be the most competitive year we’ve had in the WNBA. It’s exciting, there’s a lot happening. The league will do its part even without having our MVP and Rookie of the Year on the court in Candace Parker.”

ESPN Reporter Rebecca Lobo: “It’s been fun for me to watch the tournament this year, to see how the prospects have played so well, whether it’s Marissa Coleman, Angel McCoughtry or Renee Montgomery or emerging players like Briann January and Kia Vaughn. It’s been fun to see the players who will be taken in this draft playing so well when it matters the most. I’m excited for the upcoming WNBA season, excited for the draft. You hear all the rumors on who will go 1, 2 and 3 and we are going to find that out in a little over a week from now. It’s an exciting time for all of us who cover and follow women’s basketball.”

Q: Can you talk about Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton from Purdue and what impact she might have in the WNBA? Will she be a first round pick?

NL: “We all knew that L was a talent, she’s got a high basketball IQ. She is the type of player who is a tough match-up from 15-16 feet away, she’s got good footwork, balance, solid rebounder, she can pass out of double teams. In talking to some GM’s across the league over the last three weeks, she has upped her ante in talking to some GM’s across the league. She’s a solid basketball player and a great teammate. She has a lot of mental toughness and she is going to find a home in this league. I see her as a low first round or high second round pick. She won’t be on the board very long. She is the type of kid you want on your team.”

RL: “Listening to some scouts over the past three weeks, Lindsay’s name came up a lot. Teams will be interested because of her size and skill set. People really pay attention to what she can do in pressure situations. She is certainly going to be able to help a team.”

Q: What do you think the Connecticut Sun needs to address in this year’s draft?

RL: “Connecticut might be looking to get a little more size inside. They don’t have a ton of size. Players who might be available at the 10th pick with size could include Chante Black, Ashley Paris. I would assume Courtney Paris and Kia Vaughn will both be gone by the time the Connecticut picks.”

Q: A question for Rebecca Lobo - how are the post players in this draft different from when you played?

RL: “Post players are so much different now than even when I was playing. They are so versatile and can go inside-outside. Their skill set is very different – they are no longer a post who goes down on the block or a “4” who can just shoot the 15-foot shot. They’ve grown up watching Lisa Leslie or Tina Thompson and they are more versatile. You didn’t see players with the bodies or skills of Courtney Paris or Kia Vaughn when this league started 12 years ago. I really love watching talented post players. They show they can do so much more than make lay-ups.”

Q: Who are the top five post players in this year’s draft?

RL: “For me, I would put Kia Vaughn up there with Chante Black and Courtney Paris.”

NL: “You should also throw in Ashley Walker and Devanei Hampton from Cal. There are not a lot of true, traditional posts now who just go with their back to the basket. Today’s players can handle the ball and pass.”

Q: What can you say about Courtney Paris and what kind of player she is? What about Ashley?

NL: “Courtney is most effective the closer she is to the basket. She has very high efficiency when she has one foot in the lane. She is very gifted, very smart, understands the angles of the game. Her consistency is second to none from what we’ve ever seen. She competed at USA Basketball Training Camp and she continues to overachieve. The next level is to take a page out of Ashley’s book: tighten up her physique, get a professional trainer. She is only going to get better as her body evolves at the next level.”

“I think Ashley is definitely a first round draft pick. She has versatility, quickness, she transitions well offensively and defensively. Her lateral foot speed has increased tremendously since last season and she is trying to extend her game out with a 15 foot jump shot. The Paris twins are great players right hand/left hand ability, great rebounders. Ashley’s a top ten player in this draft.”

RL: “If anyone has any questions about Courtney’s size, she has been the most consistent player. You cannot argue with her numbers. She is intriguing player and people will wonder how that will translate in the WNBA against a post who is a little more mobile. In seeing how Ashley Paris transformed her body, we are intrigued as to how Courtney will be able to change her body as well. How effective could she be a little bit trimmer and in a little better shape. She has put up numbers her entire career. She may be able to go anywhere from 8-15 in this year’s draft, a testament to her hard work.”

Q: What does the Chicago Sky need and what kind of draft might they have? Who might fill the void in the WNBA without Parker at the beginning of the season?

NL: “I think they are in a great position with the third pick. They are going to be able to get who they want. To me, they could use a point guard. Renee Montgomery with Candice Dupree, Armintie Price, Dominique Canty and Sylvia Fowles, this could be a really, really good team. We never had a chance to see what they could be last year b/c of the injury to Fowles.”

“There are great rookies coming out, but there are still great players in this league that are the best players in the world. There’s a nice blend of players that are currently in the league and the young players coming in. The league is going to be fine. We are going to miss Candace Parker because she’s a very special athlete, but she’s not the only athlete.”

Q: What do the Mystics need at the #2 spot as the rebuild their team?

NL: “They need consistency. They’ve probably had more coaches than anyone in the league they’ve addressed that this year. Angela Taylor is their GM, who did a great job in Minnesota a year ago. Sheila is a wonderful owner and she has great vision. They will now put players around Alana Beard and Monique Currie. They went out and got Lindsay Harding, and Chasity Melvin has always been tough and consistent in the middle. Matee Ajavon is an unbelievable player on both sides of the ball. I think they could use a “big”. Maybe this is the place for Courtney Paris. I think Courtney would fit in well with this team. They need to improve depth, defense and consistency.”

Q: Where do you think Pitt’s Shavonte Zellous might end up?

NL: “She’s a good combo guard. She’s a streaky kind of a shooter but she’s big. She is tremendously quick and can take you off the dribble left or right. She’s a good passer. She’ll be a second round draft pick and go to training camp and then fight for a job. Kids will have to play with their “A” game in training camp.”

RL: “There’s one less team and 11 players per roster. Teams can’t have projects anymore. They can’t draft for two or three years down the road. You’ve got to be good now. There’s not a lot of jobs and there’s a lot of really, really good players out there.”

Q: What immediate impact will Renee Montgomery have on the WNBA?

RL: “I think she is going to have an immediate impact. She should be the starting point guard whatever team she goes to. She has a great skill set and, in my mind, she’s the best leader in the draft, exudes confidence, gets teammates involved and builds chemistry. You can’t say enough good things about her, about the intangibles she brings on and off the court. Right away, I think she will be one of the best point guards in the league. She will have a tremendous impact from the beginning.”

Q: What about Kia Vaughn’s potential in the WNBA?

RL: “I love Kia Vaughn. I’ve enjoyed watching her the past few years at Rutgers. She works so hard, has great skills, has a fantastic pro body, good size at 6’4 and strength. She sets good screens, plays great defense. She does everything really well and is only going to get better, especially her offensive production at the next level. I’m looking forward to watching her develop.”

NL: “She will be a better professional than she was a collegiate player. She really wasn’t the number one option at Rutgers, but later in the season Rutgers became a far more efficient team running the ball through Kia Vaughn. She will continue to develop her skills around the basket and she will be a great teammate. She works so hard in practice, encourages people and she is going to be a marvelous player. She might come into the league a specialist like Cheryl Ford, and she might end up walking out of the league an All-Star, like Cheryl Ford.”