Winters Preps for Draft

March 30, 2006
One week before the WNBA Draft, and a day before embarking to Boston for activities surrounding the NCAA Final Four, Brian Winters took time to answer questions for FeverBasketball.com and WNBA.com. Here are some of Winters’ thoughts prior to next week’s draft – his third since joining the Fever in 2004.
Q: Are there any specific holes or weaknesses that you’ll be looking for to bolster your draft?
A: “I don’t really see any glaring weaknesses or holes on our roster, so, no, I don’t think we have to draft for any one position. We’re going to take the best available player or the best athlete. It could be a big, it could be a guard, it will just depend on what other teams pick ahead of us. I don’t really see a lot of holes or weaknesses – with all of our trades and free agents, I think we’re two-deep already. So I don’t feel any pressure to draft any particular position this year.”
Q: How have you been preparing for the upcoming draft? What methods do you utilize?
A: “I think you start preparing for the draft very early. You start thinking about it when your season ends – looking at how you think your team needs to improve, and making a list of needs. We scout a lot of players both on film and in person. We go out and scout all the college talent. If it’s a player within the WNBA, we review tapes of them and their abilities. And we look at a lot of statistics, both in the college and the pros. Occasionally we’ll talk with other coaches and seek other opinions. Usually we’ll start with statistics and film, and then when we get closer, we might find some more personal information through a coach or someone close to her. We want to learn what kind of person she is, how she reacts, how does she learn the best, those kinds of things.”
Q: What are the most important traits you look for in prospects?
A: “You always look for certain things. You look for athleticism and quickness, first. Second, you look for skill. And third, you look at a specific person and look to see if they have a good feel for the game. Do they have a good sense of when and where to pass? When to shoot? When to dribble or drive? Can they play in the system we like to play? You like to look at all of those things.”
Q: What college players have impressed you the most this season?
A: “There are a lot of good players out there. The top players in the draft are probably going to be Sophia Young, Cappie Pondexter, Seimone Augustus and Monique Currie. And probably Candace Dupree. Those will probably be the first four or five picks this year. We’re not going to have a chance to pick any of them because we’re at nine. I would doubt very much that any of them would fall to us.”
Q: How important is the NCAA Tournament, or this week’s Final Four, in making any last-minute decisions?
A: “It gives you a chance to look at the top teams, of course. Watching somebody like Maryland, because they have so many young players, gives you a chance to look at some players playing at a very high level, for the future. Duke also has some good young players, and so does North Carolina, obviously. It gives you an opportunity to evaluate some players for the future. And I never try to evaluate anyone on a one or two-game basis. It is always best to evaluate players over time.
Q: How much foreign scouting consumes your time?
A: “Lin Dunn went overseas and spent a couple of weeks scouting some players this winter. She watched some of our current players, some players that have played in the WNBA, some players that are on the cusp and some of the younger European players. She was all over the map for about a month including Turkey, Spain, Hungary, Poland, Russia and Australia. She saw some of the better Euro leagues. It’s good to have eyes over there. We also talk to some of the agents over there, people who know who the better players are. We keep track of some of the statistics and sometimes we get some film from time to time. We’re always looking for any player who is improving and getting better, and might want to play in the WNBA.”
Q: This is your third WNBA draft. Can you compare it with your previous drafts?
A: “There are a lot of good players this year, there always are. And most teams will always pick somewhat according to needs that they have. There are a few impact players in the draft and might be able to play right away, but most will fit somewhere onto a team’s roster and develop over time. It’s probably different for us this year, in the sense that we really don’t have a specific need. We signed a lot of free agents that pretty much met most of our needs, if not all of our needs. Whoever the ninth pick is, she’s got to come in here and compete for a job. There is no guarantee that our first-round pick will make our team. We hope that she will, and we hope she’ll be a player we really like and can continue to grow with us.”