The hype surrounding the 2013 WNBA Draft class – which includes three game-changing prospects in Baylor’s Brittney Griner, Delaware's Elena Delle Donne and Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins, all currently playing for their respective colleges – is at an all-time high as all three have the potential to immediately make a substantial impact on a franchise. Each week, WNBA.com will update you with what each of these players is doing for their respective schools as it's never to early for WNBA fans to start following some of the future stars of this league.
Winning is what this game -- and pretty much every sport -- is all about. So, if winning is a barometer for how explosive this draft class can be, then this trio of game changers will exceed even the loftiest of expectations. The last time Baylor, Notre Dame or Delaware lost was when Delaware fell to then-No.9 ranked Maryland on December 20. That's a combined 39 straight wins with no losses coming in 2013. Prior to that, the most recent loss amongst these three teams was Dec. 5, and that was when Diggins' Fighting Irish fell to Griner's Baylor squad.
With the way Delle Donne and the Blue Hens are playing, it was only a matter of time, but Delaware is back in the AP Top 25, currently sitting at No. 20. The Blue Hens have won 14 straight and appear to primed for another Cinderella run in March.
As for Delle Donne, she's played some of her best basketball as of late, especially during the team's big game against CAA rival Hofstra. In front of a sold-out Delaware crowd, Delle Donne shined by scoring 35 points, pulling down nine rebounds and blocking four shots. It was the 32nd time she surpassed the 30-point mark in her college career.
"Delle Donne hasn't broken any records like Brittney Griner or led her team to arguably the season's biggest win as Skylar Diggins did on national television in the upset at Connecticut. But her recovery has given renewed hope to Delaware's season and put her back on the same page as the two other prominent players with whom she is most often associated."
So often lauded for her leadership, toughness and ability to distribute the basketball, it's time to focus on Diggins' immense scoring ability. Against Providence on Jan. 26, Diggins became only the fourth Notre Dame player to score 2,000 career points. Entering the game just one bucket away, it took Diggins all of four seconds to reach the milestone. In the end, Diggins scored 21 points, all in the first half, as she made all nine of her attempts in the opening stanza. Diggins also has a chance to become the school's all-time leading scorer this year. The record is held by Beth Cunningham who has 2,322 career points.
What They're Saying:
Diggins had this to say after the milestone-reaching Providence game.
“I wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible so I wouldn’t have to think about it. The crowd is always loud, and always exciting, but the roar that came when I made that basket was special and it’s something that I won’t forget; especially because I’m from here, seeing the familiar faces, everyone was so happy and there was great excitement in the building. It was as loud as I’ve ever heard it."
If there was any doubt prior to this week if Brittney Griner would go down in history as one of the best players in NCAA history, that doubt has been removed. Entirely. Securing two iconic records in back-to-back games will do that for you. On Jan. 26, Griner became the NCAA's all-time leader in blocked shots for any division, men or women, when she passed Louella Tomlinson of St. Mary's. In her next game -- a 40-point, 15-rebound, seven-block outburst -- she became the Big 12's all-time leading scorer passing Oklahoma State's Andrea Riley.
What They're Saying:
After Griner broke the Big 12 scoring record, Baylor coach Kim Mulkey had this to say.
"When Brittney came four years I told everybody, 'You better buy tickets. You'll never see anything like her again,' and at the time you didn't talk about the records that she would break. But after you saw her play it was pretty obvious she's going to be a phenom and it's not surprising that she's broken those records."
Last week, Lauren Hill of Mount St. Joseph University courageously took the floor for her first college game, refusing to let an inoperable brain tumor keep her from achieving her dream – and WNBA stars Elena Delle Donne and Tamika Catchings were on hand to lend their support.