Scouting the Top College Seniors with the WNBA Player Personnel
Evaluating the Top Prospects
March 7 - Just like they do every college season, the WNBA Player Personnel Department has been busy watching all of the college seniors. In fact, they have been watching them since they were freshmen and sophomores, not to mention the thousands of hours of tape that they have viewed in preparation for the 2006 WNBA Draft. As the NCAA Tournament gets underway, Reneé Brown, Chief of Basketball Operations and Player Relations, Angela Taylor, Senior Director, WNBA Player Personnel, and their staff will be keeping an especially close eye on the following young women:
La'Tangela Atkinson, forward, North
She has been the key to top-ranked UNC's defensive presence. Atkinson is aggressive, active and is called upon to shut down the opponent's top offensive player on a regular basis. Offensively, she is a slasher, has quick first step and strong moves to the basket and is excellent in transition. She is aggressive on the boards and will match up well with top perimeter scorers in the WNBA from a defensive standpoint.
Seimone Augustus, guard, Louisiana State
Flat out, Augustus is the real deal. She can do anything she wants to do, scores from anywhere on the court, is a difference-maker, a future Olympian andwill make an immediate impact on whatever team she goes to. She should start immediately, can score against double and triple teams, extended her range to hit the 3-pointer consistently, and is an excellent foul shooter. Don't send her to the line. She is smooth and fluid with plenty of game, great handle at her height, tremendous knowledge and feel for the game and makes others better. When surrounded by quality players, can take it to another level, like Diana Taurasi.
Sherill Baker, guard, Georgia
Baker is a guard with unlimited potential and who could be one of the steals in the Draft. She is actually such a good defender that she broke Teresa Edwards' steal record, which had been around for 20-something years. She is averaging like 4 to 5 steals per game. She is such a quick difference-maker on defensive end that she can change the game. She just makes things look easy. Some of her great qualities is that she is very coachable, competitive, has a great attitiude and just loves what she's doing. Sherill, has become more aggressive offensively and is unstoppable in transition because of her quickness with ball. She needs to extend her range a little bit and become more aggressive from perimeter, not be afraid to shoot and work on adding to her slight build.
Bowen, guard, Michigan State
Bowen is not a true point guard per se, but after the departure of Kristin Haynie last season, she, has handled the duties at the point very well. Lindsay takes good care of the ball and does not make a lot of mistakes. She is an average ball handler, which she can improve upon and must as she will have to play point at the next level due to her size. Somehow she always hits big shots when needed and is a consistent scorer from the perimeter with excellent shot selection.
Nikki Blue, guard, UCLA
She is a big point guard, which teams like. She will be a better pro player because she is creative at the point, can score, makes her teammates look good and is at her best in transtition. Even though she didn't get a lot of attention being on from the west coast and not playing in the NCAA Tournament, she has all the tools of a point guard. She sees the floor, is excellent passer, rebounds well from 1 position, can score off dribble, finishes in traffic and has 3-point range. She has had some injuries and has not been completely healthy in all four season, but when healthy, she could be a top point guard.
Monique Currie, guard, Duke
Monique is physically gifted, a big guard who can play really the 1, the 2 or the 3 if needed. She can handle ball if necessary and has great size for either of the swing positions. She really worked on her 3-point shot this year and has a fluid perimeter jumper. You can tell she is looking to take more perimeter shots, yet still creates mismatches for smaller guards. Defensively, she needs to be a bit more focused, but when she is really applying herself, she can dominate and shut opponents down. She needs to be more consistent and aggressive on the boards, but with her physique, competitiveness and athletic ability, she can be a good rebounder from the guard position.
Davis, forward, Texas Tech
Davis is a strong low-block player who is also effective in the high post. She works hard to get position on the block and is capable of scoring over defenders or going around bigger post players. She is comfortable facing up to the basket and either hitting a high post jumper or making a solid passing decisions. She also runs the floor well for a post player, is active on the boards and is an effective defender.
Megan Duffy, guard, Notre Dame
Megan is true point guard in every sense of the position, but has become more aggressive offensively and willing to look for her own shot, which has been the key. She is an excellent leader on and off the floor, understands the game and where teammates need to be and how to put them in the right position, which is just what you want from a point guard. Duffy has also improved her ability to score off the bounce, but is small and lacks a lot of athleticism. Those will be her biggest challenges, but it is so difficult to find true point guards at this level and could stick as a good backup point guard in the WNBA.
Candice Dupree, forward, Temple
Dupree has the unassuming type of personality that makes her a silent assassin. She has all the tools and has improved her game in every season, which you like to see from college kids (She did learn from the best in Dawn Staley). At her size, she is shotblocker, can score facing up or in the low block, has great hands and footwork and runs the floor well. Defensively, she changes shots and gets in passing lanes. She has huge upside and a lot of coaches could be high on her. She should be nice role player and have an impact in her rookie year depending on what team she joins.
Erin Grant, guard,
Just the prototypical point guard. Erin is an excellent floor leader and the extension of the coaching staff on the floor. She has lead Texas Tech since she was a freshman. She really has an excellent feel for the game, good size at the point, sees the entire floor and makes excellent decisions with the ball. She is a poised leader who knows when she needs to look to be more aggressive offensively. Her perimeter range is not a strength, and can even be a liability when teams look to double off of her and force her to take 18-19-footers. But Grant has developed a nice mid-range game, which helps to keep the defense honest. That said, she is an excellent passer who distributes the ball to teammates and put them in scoring position.
Scholanda Hoston, guard, Louisiana State
Hoston is a tremendous athlete with potential to be a contributor in the WNBA. She is a long, lean player in excellent physical condition and competes on every play, both offensively and defensively. She is capable of hitting perimeter jumpers (out to 3-point range) or attacking the basket and finishing in traffic. She is also an effective rebounder, but could use her length and athleticism more effectively on the offensive and defensive boards. Scholanda is an excellent defender who anticipates well off the ball and is also an effective on ball defender. For the future, she must work on her mid-range game and continue to develop her outside shot.
James, forward, Miami
Tamara is a scorer, one of the nation's leaders in scoring during each of her four years. As an undersized post player, the transition to the perimeter will be her biggest concern, but she knows how to score from anywhere on floor. She is capable of putting ball on the floor and going around bigger post player, runs the floor well, is active offensively and has a scorer's mentality.
Cappie Pondexter, guard, Rutgers
Pondexter is just a gamer. She has had a phenomenal senior season after only playing half of a season last year. She came into the year in great shape, which also helped. She has a quick first step, can blow by anyone, can score from anywhere on floor, creates for herself off dribble and is also capable of setting up teammates. Cappie wants to take over a game and wants to have the ball in her hands at the end of the game and hits big shots. Rutgers is a defensive system, so she was taught everything you need to know defensively, puts in a lot of effort and shuts folks down. Her on-ball defense is strong and she anticipates well. This girl was born to play and if her tattoo is any indication, she has wanted this since she first set foot on the floor in college.
Liz Shimek, forward, Michigan State
One word to describe Liz is deceiving. She has a thorough knowledge of the game, knows where she needs to be and how to position herself, but she is not necessarily the quickest or in possession of the best vertical leap. Yet, she is always in the right place at the right time. She may be hindered by size and lack of athleticism, but makes up for it with knowledge, great hands and good passing skills in the high post. She hits the big shots and is the go-to player for Michigan State. She is an effective scorer on the low block and creates opportunities for herself.
Smith, center, Depaul
Smith is one of the few big low-block players in the Draft this year. She doesn't have the prototypical physique, but is a strong presence, establishes position well and is hard to get around. She needs to work on mobility, but it totally the type of player that can have 20 points and 15 rebounds and you didn't even realize it. She is a big, wide body and is always effective against the top post players around country. Naturally, she is a strong, aggressive rebounder as well.
Kim Smith, forward, Utah
Smith is a versatile post player who can score on the low block or from the perimeter. She has had an outstanding career at Utah. At 6-1, she will be an undersized post player who will have to continue to develop her perimeter game to be effective at the next level.
Having been in the national spotlight her entire career, Strother still helped herself big time in the Tennessee game earlier this year. Ann is active and aggressive offensively and has always had the tools. She is a nice shooter, has good height at her position, has nice handle and was brought up in a great program. Yes, she has been inconsistent over the past few seasons, but as a product of the UConn system, she knows how to win and how to play the game. She can pass, move without ball and has those intangibles that pro coaches love and that are hard to teach at this level. She is capable of scoring and putting up big numbers if need be, but still needs to work on her defense for this level.
Thurburn is a big guard who can play either the 1 or the 2. She handles the ball well at her size and makes excellent decisions with the ball. She is also quite capable of putting up big numbers. She can score off the dribble as well as from the perimeter, is very consistent and leads with poise on the floor.
Barbara Turner, forward, Connecticut
A lot of WNBA teams like her despite the fact that she undersized for her position. Also the product of a great system, Barbara has worked extremely hard this offseason to lose weight and get in great shape. She has also worked on her perimeter game, is a tremendous competitor and wants the ball at the end of the game. She extended her range to be able to hit the 17-18-foot shot consistently, is active both defensively and on the boards, but will likely have to make the transition from playing 4 to 3. She will be matching up with players like Sheryl Swoopes, so she will have to continue to work on her perimeter game, her ball-handling and first step and range, much like Swin Cash had to do.
Mistie Williams, center, Duke
A strong player with the ability to score on the low block, Mistie is a vocal leader on the floor. She is an excellent passer. She sees the floor well and has developed her passing ability as a result of playing in the Duke system. She is active on the boards at both ends of the floor, yet lacks quickness and pure jumping ability. However, she uses her strength to her advantage in the post, truly understands the game and is a hard worker.
Willis, guard, UCLA
Lisa has been one of the pleasant surprises of the year. She was not exactly out of the blue, but people are taking notice to what she can do. She really has been one of the better Pac 10 players over the past few years. She is a scorer with a scorer's mentality, worked on handle, is able to get her shot off in traffic being tightly guarded, has great size on the perimeter and range beyond the 3-point line. She has like Becky Hammon range, not afraid to shoot the ball from anywhere, but needs to be more aggressive defensively and active on the boards. She has tremendous potential in the WNBA and will be a nice addition to a WNBA team.
Sophia Young, forward, Baylor
Sophia is a champion and there is something to be said about taking your team to that level. She is a leader and winner on court, has a great attitude and plays hard on both ends of floor for 40 minutes. She is an undersized post player, so she will have to play on the perimeter a bit and develop those skills. With great hands, great footwork and being extremely active offensively, she will also give bigger post players matchup problems. She has a quick first step, is an excellent rebounder and has a nice face-up game up to 15-feet.
Shanna Zolman, guard, Tennessee
Shanna is a phenomenal shooter with range beyond the 3-point arc. You cannot leave her open and must get a hand in her face as she has hit several big game-winning baskets over her career. She has been forced to play some point guard with recent injuries, but her true position is shooting guard. She can struggle to get her shot off against bigger and quicker guards, but is money if you can get her curling off of screens and/or off of guard penetration. She has spent time in the gym during the summers and developed her game off the dribble.