WNBA Prospect Stock Update
Torrey Vail/GU Athletics
After four days of nearly non-stop action, we are down to 16 teams in the Women�s NCAA Tournament. Not surprisingly, many of the nation�s top WNBA Prospects have led their teams to the second weekend, which not only keeps their NCAA title hopes afloat � as long as somebody can hand Baylor its first loss of the year � but also gives each of the players one final chance to impress pro scouts before the April 16th�s WNBA Draft in Bristol, CT.
Last week, we took a look at the 10 seniors to keep an eye on during the Tournament. Now, four days and 48 total games later, here�s a glimpse at the 10 players that either improved and/or solidified their draft status with stellar performances, along with a few that didn�t take advantage of this last opportunity to showcase their abilities for WNBA teams.
One of the nation�s better facilitators, Carter has struggled with efficiency in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. In two Texas A&M victories over 14th-seeded Albany and No. 6 seed Arkansas, Carter managed only 11 points on 2-for-12 shooting and only five assists. A resilient senior who also plays good defense, Carter�s play and leadership will be instrumental to the Aggies� success if they are to make a run at repeating as NCAA champions.
She�ll have another chance to show scouts her true colors when No. 3 Texas A&M faces off against No. 2 Maryland on Mar. 25.
The Yellow Jackets� imposing center displayed exactly what she can bring to a WNBA team in the first two rounds, rolling out two straight double-doubles for a combined 26 points and 22 rebounds and, in the process, taking No. 4 seed Georgia Tech to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in school history. This has been a historic season for the Yellow Jackets � they also set school records for wins, both total and in the Atlantic Coast Conference � and Goodlett�s dominating presence in the paint is a big reason for that.
Georgia Tech will face overall No. 1 seed Baylor on Mar. 24, setting up a marquee matchup between Goodlett and Baylor�s Brittney Griner � who remains ineligible for the 2012 Draft unless she opts out of her senior season at Baylor � in the post.
Johnson�s backcourt mate and All-ACC selection Riquna Williams did not play in the team�s two tournament games because of an undisclosed violation of team rules. As a result, Johnson became the focal point of the offense, and she responded admirably. Johnson scored 20 points in each of her two games, shooting a combined 18-for-38 from the floor. She also amassed 19 rebounds and five steals. After beating No. 14 seed Idaho State, Miami was upset by No. 11 seed Gonzaga, but Johnson showed that she can be very effective, even without Williams.
Scouts may only have gotten to see Johnson in two NCAA Tournament games, but she proved what we all already know � that she is a bonafide first-round WNBA prospect.
Kizer remains a bit of an enigma for the Terrapins. After being suspended for the first three games of the 2011-12 season for a violation of team rules, Kizer came back to play a key role for Maryland this year. Her numbers (11.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg), while good, are a bit down from last year, and the NCAA Tournament was the perfect arena for her to show off her glimpses of talent that have WNBA scouts so intrigued with this athletic, 6-foot-4 pivot. Unfortunately, Kizer did not step up to the challenge. In two Maryland victories, Kizer scored only 11 points on 3-for-15 shooting coming off the bench.
But the fact remains: Kizer�s rich with physical gifts, and she will have at least one more opportunity to shine for scouts when No. 2 Maryland faces the defending champs Texas A&M on Mar. 25.
With all respect to teammate and fellow top prospect Devereaux Peters, who�s put together a good NCAA Tournament in her own right, Natalie Novosel has been the shining star for Notre Dame thus far. After scoring 12 points in only 24 minutes in the Irish�s opening victory against No. 16 Liberty, Novosel exploded for 28 points, nine rebounds and four steals against No. 8 seed California. What�s even more impressive is how she scored her points. Novosel, one the nation�s most dangerous catch-and-shoot players, found her shot uncharacteristically off in the early stages of the Cal game. So, the 5-foot-11 guard attacked the basket, and while she finished shooting only 5-for-18 on the night, many of the misses were caused by fouls � and from the charity stripe she hit 18-of-20 attempts.
Novosel�s display of versatility will be a big plus in the eyes of scouts and she can continue to impress when top-seeded Notre Dame squares off against No. 5 seed St. Bonaventure on Mar. 25.
Ogqumike didn�t waste any time in showing why she�s currently the top prospect in the country. In the first round against Hampton, the 6-foot-2 forward dominated all over the court. She poured in 22 of her 28 points in the first half and also added 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals. In the second round against West Virginia, Ogwumike added another 16 points to go along with two steals and two blocks. Ogwumike�s also working on her perimeter game, and despite only shooting 1-for-5 from 3-point range in the first two rounds, her willingness to shoot from the outside, after attempting only 11 threes in her first three seasons at Stanford, is notable. If she can add that dimension to her game, she won�t just be an elite prospect � she�ll be an impact player from the time she touches the floor in the WNBA.
Stanford, a favorite to make a fifth-straight Final Four, will take on No. 5 seed South Carolina on Mar. 24.
Considered by many to be the top point guard prospect in the country, Prahalis failed to put an exclamation point on her tremendous career with a good showing in the NCAA Tournament. In Ohio State�s first-round loss to No. 8 seed Florida, Prahalis had only nine points � none in the second half � on 4-for-13 shooting. Prahalis, who averages over six assists per night, only dished out three in the team�s loss.
Prahalis is still considered a top prospect in the WNBA Draft � and one game most likely won�t budge her from her perch atop the point guard charts � but she missed an opportunity to put a stamp on a top-5 selection.
Much like its famous men�s teams of the late-90 and early 2000s, No. 11 seed Gonzaga, powered by senior Kayla Standish, is the Cinderella team of the 2012 tournament. Standish has dazzled in victories over No. 6 seed Rutgers and No. 3 seed Miami and has the Bulldogs still alive as the lowest remaining seed in the field. Against Rutgers, Standish went off for 23 points, seven rebounds and two blocks. Against Miami, the 6-foot-2 forward came back with 19 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two blocks. She has done a superb job leading this West Coast Conference program to two wins over teams from power conferences, and her efforts haven�t gone unnoticed by WNBA scouts.
Standish and the Bulldogs hope to keep their improbable run alive when they face No. 2 seed Kentucky on Mar. 25.
As accomplished a post player as you�re going to find in this draft, Glory Johnson once again dominated the inside for Tennessee when it counted the most. Coming off a huge SEC Tournament, Johnson followed that up with a 14-point, 12-rebound performance against No. 15 seed Tennessee-Martin and then pulled down a season-high 21 rebounds, including eight offensive, against No. 7 seed DePaul. Johnson has displayed both toughness and a scoring touch in the tournament, two things that WNBA scouts covet.
Tennessee, Glory Johnson and other top prospect Shekinna Stricklen will face No. 11 Kansas for a shot at making it to the Regional Finals on Mar. 24.
Riquna Williams, one of our top prospects to watch coming into the NCAA Tournament, never got a chance to showcase her explosiveness. In fact, Williams didn�t even travel with the team due to an undisclosed violation of team rules. Williams, who has received so many accolades over the course of her career, will now have to answer questions from WNBA teams about why she missed the team�s tournament games � one of which was a season-ending loss to No. 11 seed Gonzaga. Instead of focusing solely on her incredible talent, teams may now have to focus on her character as well
However, this hiccup is one of the only blemishes on her resume, and Williams remains one of the top point guards available to WNBA teams.