Identifying the Top Prospects in the 2014 Draft

By Debbie Antonelli | April 13, 2014

Indiana Fever and top college basketball TV analyst Debbie Antonelli breaks down the top seniors in Monday’s WNBA Draft. Players are listed in the order of how they can impact the professional game, not by draft order. Each player has a description of their skills set and why they will be good professionals in the WNBA.

Best Impact Players

1. Odyssey Sims, Baylor
Tenacious on-ball defender who can guard both guard positions; best prepared in 2-man game, she can score and defend from both perimeter positions; she’s going to be a terrific pro.

2. Chiney Oguwmike, Stanford
Long, athletic, offensive rebounder, can score 1-on-1 on the block; excellent in the pinch and better earlier than her sister in the pinch; runs floor ahead of the ball; not good yet with a trail 3-pointer but will be a more balanced offensive player over time.

3. Kayla McBride, Notre Dame
Can shoot it and create her own shot; strong to rim off the bounce, smart, finisher in transition, strong core for working off screening action; she has a beautiful stroke with the athleticism to get open.

4. Alyssa Thomas, Maryland
Versatile yet needs most the work on her range and her handle among these top 5 players; the most powerful player in the game on defensive rebounds because of her finishing ability at other rim; highly athletic, great attitude and will work to be a great pro.

5. Stefanie Dolson, Connecticut
6’5 center who can pass and handle, score on the block left and right; she runs the floor well compared to other 5s in WNBA and can defend in a more physical style in pros than in college; can shoot the trail 3-pointer and will take more trail 3s in the W.

6. Markeisha Gatling, NC State
Surprised to have her here, but trust more than Natasha Howard due to strength; she will become a bigger Erlana Larkins over time; will work and her upside may be best in the draft besides Shoni Schimmel; strong, she plays game low to high, seals and posts deep, runs, can defend with size, has great hands; her work ethic will need to be challenged at first but will be a good pro over time.

7. Natasha Howard, Florida State
Long, athletic, not as demanding or as confident as she should be in calling for ball on the block; runs the best of all post players in draft; will defend and rebound; in space and with the way game is officiated with the three-second rule on defense, she will score in 1-on-1 situations; I think her basketball IQ is better than being advertised and she will work her butt off to be a great pro.

8. Bria Hartley, Connecticut
Senior numbers better than her sophomore or junior year which speaks to her improvement; she can play the 1 or 2 and can score from 3-point line to the rim; she can defend the 1 or 2, can score and handle in transition; owns a solid not a flashy game; if surrounded by the same talent in the WNBA as in college, she will succeed

9. Shoni Schimmel, Louisville
Most upside in the draft due to her scoring and shooting ability, yet she hasn’t transformed her body into a pro yet; if she gets into better condition, will be an excellent steal in draft; fearless on offense, the razzle of the W will excite her and fans; coaching will require some patience for her love for the flair of the game but in the right situation, could be a solid contributor on a roster.

10. Meighan Simmons, Tennessee
Some will worry about offensive discipline, but I don’t at this level because your job is at risk; explosive, speed, ball quicks, she has it; she has self-discipline to work, she’s a good teammate, and will be good on-ball defender on 1s or 2s; 2000+ point in college at Tennessee is impressive

Next picks are for teams who can be patient until 2015, but for pro potential, these players are worth drafting if you’re in position to take a chance or wait.

11. Natalie Achonwa, Notre Dame
Athletic, international toughness, good handle, good passer, good scorer from low block; smart player and someone who will handle a high-level scouting report; has trail 3 potential in the W.

12. Chelsea Gray, Duke
Risky if she can come back from injuries and have quality of life, but it might be a blessing that the injury will allow her to heal her body, go overseas, get some reps in a different style of play; she’s a big guard, good defender at top of defense but can she chase a defender off 4 and 5 screens in one possession?; shooting has improved over career.

Next 3 players are similar and offer the same questions on the defensive end. We know they can score. Which one of these 3 will be the better pro?

13. Jordan Hooper, Nebraska
Has size and 3-point shooting ability from perimeter, good footwork for shooter with 6’2 frame.

14. Tricia Liston, Duke
Big guard and shooter with range, 4-year improvement off the bounce vs small and quick, or big and slow defenders; very quick trigger.

15. Maggie Lucas, Penn State
Better overall offensive player than given credit because has an evolved game for the W; good at free throw line, works off screening action, has quick trigger; needs to get stronger to shake off quicker defenders.

Three steals of the draft

16. Tyaunna Marshall, Georgia Tech
Has a mid-range jumper that is a killer, scored over 2,000 points in college with only making 20 3-pointers and with just a 61 free throw pct.; similar to Alison Hightower in size and athleticism; a strong defender and pro body for a guard; not a 3-point threat but excellent off the bounce; a young Shavonte Zellous.

17. Tiffany Bias, Oklahoma State
Point guard that defends and can run a team; love her work ethic and desire to be good; will develop quickly in the pro style which is not what she played in college; good decision-maker in transition.

18. Asia Taylor, Louisville
6’1, long and athletic, has 3-point range, guards multiple players from 1-4; good toughness and a pro--ready body; her 3-point range is excellent.

Bottom of the draft where you can get a good player because you can get a specialist to fill a void

19. Kody Burke, NC State
An investment in future with a 6-3 frame, 3-point range, shoots the trail 3; an excellent student of game and hard worker; worth the investment in developing and holding her rights as she will continue to trend upwards.

20. Keena Mays, SMU
Can play 2-man and shoot the 3, undersized but tough; she transferred from Kansas to SMU; is under the radar, small but good ball quickness; sees the floor in transition and can play 1 or 2.

21. Aysa Bussie, West Virginia
Tough player on the inside; shot blocker and post player that can run, if this was NBA and she was a 7-footer, she would go higher because of value on bigs that run, set screens, defend post and because the NBA has more skilled players that can score.

22. Aaryn Ellenberg, Oklahoma
Shooter; small, will have to be able to play 1 and 2 in pros; not as many scoring point guards in the WNBA as are needed; could be a good “get” if needed back up combo.

23. Ebony Rowe, Middle Tennessee
An undersized scorer like a Le’Coe Willingham; tough on glass, limited face up but has potential, defends 3, 4 and 5 positions; athletic around rim.

24. DaNesha Stallworth, Kentucky
Tough in the paint with limited range to the 3-point line; has excellent strength in traffic to play thru contact; defends 3, 4, 5 positions.

25. Jamerria Faulkner, Southern Mississippi
Led nation in assists; quick and up-tempo guard with emerging 3-point range consistency; can make decisions quickly.

26. Kayla Thornton, UTEP
6’1, long and athletic; witnessed a transformation from soft to playing tough like her body would lead you to believe; has a pro body and can score from rim to 3-point line; she has improved each year.