2010 WNBA Pre-Draft Conference Call: Coaches and GMs

Participants


Jennifer Gillom
Head Coach
Los Angeles Sparks


Cheryl Reeve
Head Coach
Minnesota Lynx


Nolan Richardson
Head Coach and General Manager
Tulsa Shock

Jennifer Gillom Opening Statement: “I think the Draft this year is going to be very interesting. There are a lot of great players out there to choose from, who will do well in the WNBA and have the potential to have long and outstanding careers. I think this is definitely a guard-heavy draft and there are definitely some talented players out there at the guard position, for example, you have Epiphanny Prince, Monica Wright and Andrea Riley who I think are going to be very impactful players. Also, there are certainly a lot of post players out there that are extremely talented as well. Tina Charles is definitely at the top and Jacinta Monroe, to name some, but it never ceases to amazes me how talented these college players are and how they continue to grow. It is because of them that the league continues to be competitive and grow stronger every year.”

Cheryl Reeve Opening Statement: “The 2010 Draft, I would say is very intriguing as far as the depth of the players. It’s not filled with great players, but I think it is filled with some very good players that could be helpful to a lot of rosters. It’s certainly a very competitive situation in our league right now to make a team, but I think these players are good enough to be able to provide competition. I’ve been impressed with the NCAA tournament. I think what the NCAA tournament has shown us is how much the women’s game has grown and it continues to grow and I’m looking forward to seeing these women come into the league and make their mark. ”

Question and Answer Session

Q: How do you look at the depth of this draft, as far as the number of players that can come in and really contribute to their teams, this season?

CR: “I think Jen and I both said it - there are a lot of really good players. I think the challenge will be for these players to look at the Draft from the first pick, all of the way through. Even a Tina Charles will have a hard time being a starter in the league in her first season. The only exception would be the absence of a player that would create a starting position for her, but outside of that, most of these players are faces with situations where they are going to have to come in and try to find a way to be impactful off the bench. Its not an indicator of their talent level. It’s more of an indicator of where this league is talent wise and obviously with the Sacramento situation it is just a very, very competitive environment.”

JG: “I agree with Cheryl. I think a lot of these players are going to have to come in during training camp and have to prove themselves. It is not like a Candace Parker or a Sylvia Fowles, who you know are going to come in and be a starter for a team. They’re really going to have to prove themselves and with an 11-man roster, it is going to be pretty tough. ”

Q: Can you give a general assessment of Allison Hightower?

CR: “I think Allison Hightower is a player that has a chance to be successful in our league because she can score the ball and she’s a very good defender. She’s in a situation where that position is one that probably has the most depth in the draft. The perimeter players I think have good number of players and it depends on your taste in a basketball player and it might depend a little geographically, how much you’ve seen a player but there’s a good bunch of players in the category with Hightower, that I think they’re all very good, it is just a matter of where they land.”

JG: “Just to add on to what Cheryl said, I think Allison Hightower is probably one of the best guard defenders that’s out there. There are so many things she can do. She’s a very versatile player, a great three-point shooter, has a nice mid-range jumper, great penetrater and you get a player of her caliber that players well on both ends of the court, I think she’s an outstanding athlete. ”

Q: You are all going to be conducting your first Drafts as head coaches in the WNBA , can you speak on that experience and what you see that hasn’t been talked about, for this Draft ?

CR: “Its interesting that you bring that up. I don’t necessarily see it that way. It feels like my eleventh draft. My role has been the same throughout my career, in this case with Roger (Griffith) being the General Manager, I kind of found that the process for me, I’ve thought about this the same way I always have. I really like the process of evaluating players. I think for us it is not going to be that much different.”

NR: “For me, being new on the block, and trying to find my way and looking at a lot of tapes and film and trying to evaluate talent, its going to be difficult. As most of the coaches have said, the draft seems to have good players, quite a few quality players and I guess the thing that we have to do, and myself, we have the seventh pick at this point, but we’re trying to put a team together with the absence of so many that are no longer with the Shock is a difficult task, so I’m looking forward to the draft, to see what we can come up with.”

JG: “I’ve had plenty of opportunities as an assistant, to be involved with the draft selections, but the only difference this year is that now I will be making the decision that helps to make the decisions.”

Q: Are there any hidden gems that you have discovered while out scouting that could really raise their stock up on the Draft?

CR: “I wouldn’t say that there are necessarily any hidden gems so much as maybe players that have increased their draft stock through the NCAA tournament or through a really good senior year. I think it is more of that, from the beginning of the year until now you might see some significant shifts of a couple of players. I think really the NCAA tournament, the Oklahoma kids, they’re probably the ones that people point to the most that have really increased their stock, but I don’t necessarily think that means you move from an early second into the first. Its going to be hard to get into the first round for a perimeter player because its so many of them and I think we’re going to see some need based picks that will cause some teams to take some post players. So I think there are some people that have increased their stock in theory but I don’t know if it is going to cause much movement.”

JG: “Cheryl almost took the words right out of my mouth about the Oklahoma players who definitely increased their stock. I think they played very well yesterday. Also I think that Epiphanny Prince has helped her stock by going overseas and getting that professional experience.”

NR: “I feel the same way, watching as much basketball as possible and going over to watch the OU team play in person, then having the opportunity to have coaches go watch, there’s no question that Stevenson has upped her stock as a player. Of course there are other young ladies out there that I think have improved their stock. So again, when you’re trying to evaluate and you haven’t been around as long, because I like to follow players from their sophomore, junior and senior year, then you really have a beautiful picture of what is happening to players.”

Q: Can you talk about how a player’s stock can rise in the postseason specifically for a player like Jené Morris, who plays for a “mid major” program or a program that doesn’t get as much television coverage?

CR: “It helps a player when you come from a little bit smaller conference and you get hot and you get rolling in an NCAA tournament, like you said, you’re now on national television for everyone to see. Both coasts get to see you, and then when you perform the way that you did on the national stage against good teams, that’s what certainly causes an awareness of who Jené Morris is. I think we got to see her in that environment that coaches like to really look for, which is a tough, competitive environment against maybe a little bit bigger players than she sees in her own conference, faster players and those things, so you get those type of questions answered about a player and that’s what causes her momentum and stock to increase.”

Q: What kind of impact will Tina Charles make right away? What kind of adjustment do players have to make that will now come off the bench instead of starting?

CR: “I think Tina is WNBA-ready. Her game is so suited for our level of play. Her offensive rebounding is strong. She is a great story. Her game will still develop and she has truly maximized her talents. It is hard to adjust in new roles and to learn how to be an impact off the bench, but it will be a big thing for the players to understand.”

JG: “I got the opportunity to watch Tina play. She is a tremendous talent and she will make an impact immediately.”

NR: “Tina is unbelievable and she brings so much to the table. If she is on the bench, then that must mean their team is tremendous.”

Q: Where do you guys see Ephianny Prince going in this draft?

CR: “I think Prince is the cream of the crop for the guard class. She can go as high as three, as low as four. She has separated herself from other talent, she knows how to score and has that “it” factor.”

Q: How do you evaluate a player like Jenna Smith and how do you factor in team success along with the injuries that she has had?

CR: “I think that falls in the category of a good college player and she needs to go to a team that really needs posts. This league is very competitive. She has decent size and stretches the defense, but her biggest challenge is athletically.”

JG: “She has a great mid range shot and can run the court well. But she has to come into training camp and really trust herself and be ready to compete.”

Q: Can you talk about Kalana Greene and what has she done this year to improve her position in the Draft?

CR: “I think she went from being a definite second rounder to now a player that can come in and make an impact. It’s just about finding the right system.

JG: “I think she can go first round, she’s very athletic and versatile.”

NR: “She is definitely a first rounder. She is one of the most athletic players. Greene is probably one of the most athletic players on that Connecticut team. They have some great players on that team.”

Q: What are you thoughts on Jacinta Monroe from Florida State and what does she bring to the table?

CR: “She is the third-best post player. She is a true post. She runs well and blocks shots and her game will translate to the pro game.”

JG: “The fact that they went far in the tournament has definitely helped her.”

NR: “She is long and she can run the floor and contest the shot. She will be drafted pretty high.”

Q: Coach Gillom, how well do you think Candace (Parker) will play this year and what you can look for in the draft to compliment her?

JG: “Candace has always worked so hard and she will continue to be the best that she can. We definitely want a shooting guard. We would like to spread the floor. We need a guard that can shoot the three so that can open up the inside game. There are a bunch of players that can come in and make an impact with their three-point shooting.

Q: What are your thoughts on Allison Lacey’s game and the slow start that she had?

CR: “Lacey is a combination guard and can play the point and score. Her biggest question is whether or not she can physically hang with the pros.”

More from the 2010 WNBA Pre-Draft Conference Call