The NCAA Tournament provides a final chance to see some of the top WNBA prospects in action before next month’s draft. This is a prime opportunity for players to make a great final impression and improve their draft stock. Whether they are bounced after just one game or make it all the way to the Final Four, here are some of the key seniors to keep an eye on as the tournament tips off this weekend. (photo courtesy of Washington Athletics)
1 Baylor vs 16 Texas Southern
– Alexis Jones, G, Baylor
– Nina Davis, F, Baylor
The senior duo of guard Jones (13.9 ppg, 4.8 apg) and forward Davis (12.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg) will look to lead the top-seeded Bears back to the Final Four for the first time since 2012 when they won their second NCAA title. Baylor received good news on Jones, who had been out with a knee injury that forced her to miss the final five games of the season. She went through practice at full speed and coach Kim Mulkey expects her to be ready to go this weekend.
4 Louisville vs. 13 Chattanooga
– Jasmine Joyner, F, Chattanooga
The 6-2 forward averages a double-double (13.2 points and 10.6 rebounds) for the Lady Mocs, who open the tournament against No. 4 seed Louisville. Joyner’s 3.9 blocks per game ranks second in the NCAA and will be needed if Chattanooga hopes to pull off the upset and advance past the Cardinals.
6 Oklahoma vs. 11 Gonzaga
– Peyton Little, G, Oklahoma
Oklahoma’s second leading scorer at 12.2 points per game this season, Little enters the tournament on a bit of a cold streak. In her last three games she has averaged just 4.0 points on 4-17 (.235) shooting from the field. The 23rd-ranked Sooners went 1-2 in those games, including a quarterfinal exit in the Big 12 Tournament. Can she bounce back against Gonzaga on Saturday?
3 Washington vs. 14 Montana State
– Kelsey Plum, G, Washington
– Chantel Osahor, C, Washington
Washington’s Plum has already passed Jackie Stiles as the all-time leading scorer in NCAA women’s basketball. She enters the NCAA Tournament just 50 points shy of breaking Stiles’ record for most points in a single season as well. You can read more about Plum here, but don’t forget to watch Chantel Osahor. The 6-2 forward/center leads the nation in rebounding (15.3 rpg), can dominate inside and also spread the floor with her unique flat-footed 3-pointer, which she shoots at 38.3 percent.
7 DePaul vs. 10 Northern Iowa
– Jessica January, G, DePaul
After suffering a broken right index finger in a Dec. 28 game against Georgetown, January missed all of January and most of February as well following surgery. She returned on Feb. 24 and with DePaul’s run to the BIG EAST title game (which they lost to Marquette), she’s had five games to get back into a rhythm heading into their NCAA Tournament opener. In 18 games this season, January is averaging 15.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 6.5 assists and is one of just 24 players to record a triple-double this season. Her assist average would rank 15th in the NCAA had January played the requisite 75% of her team’s games.