The stars will be out in Minneapolis for the 2022 Women’s Final Four, which provides an exciting preview into the WNBA’s future talent pool.
There are a number of players who will take the floor at the Target Center who are also showing up on 2022 WNBA Draft lists.
Let’s take a look at the top draft candidates, should they renounce their remaining NCAA eligibility and make themselves available for the draft, who will be playing for an NCAA title this weekend:
Christyn Williams, 5-11 guard
Williams, from Little Rock, Arkansas, has been the glue player for the Huskies this season with injuries to star Paige Bueckers and highly-touted freshman Azzi Fudd disrupting Connecticut’s typical dominance. Williams’ strength as a defender and her ability to score off the bounce have been showcased all season. She has been their go-to scoring option in many games, averaging 14.7 points a game and shooting nearly 47 percent from the floor. She played 48 minutes in Connecticut’s double-overtime win over North Carolina State in the Elite Eight and finished with 21 points in that critical win, proving her worth to the Huskies on the floor. Williams was a unanimous selection to the All Big East first team.
Evina Westbrook, 6-0 forward
Westbrook’s role as a sparkplug off the bench for the Huskies has made her an important part of the Huskies’ success, particularly on the defensive end, where she has collected a team-leading 50 steals this season. She is averaging 8.9 points a game in a little more than 27 minutes on the floor and has connected on 35 3-pointers.
Olivia Nelson-Ododa, 6-5 forward
The Georgia native and All Big Team first-team selection, is will be one of the most sought-after young posts in the draft because of her ability to rebound, defend the interior and also because of her skill-set as a passer and facilitator. Nelson-Ododa is averaging 9.4 points and 7.5 rebounds a game, shooting 60 percent from the floor. She led the Big East in blocks this season, averaging 1.9 per game.
Emily Engstler, 6-1 forward
Engstler, the New York native, has spent just one season playing for the Cardinals after transferring from Syracuse, but her impact has helped to propel Louisville once again to the Final Four and into the mix for an NCAA title. Engstler, who has started all 33 games for Louisville this season and was named to the All-ACC First Team and All-Defensive Team, has come up big during the NCAA Tournament. She scored a season-high 20 points in the Cardinal’s Sweet 16 win over Tennessee and has pulled down double-digit rebounds in three of Louisville’s four NCAA wins thus far. Engstler has collected 12 double-doubles this season. She is averaging 9.4 rebounds a game to go with 11.8 points and has collected an impressive 89 steals this season and 60 blocked shots. Louisville Coach Jeff Walz said that Engstler plays with an “edge”. “Putting her in positions defensively how we play, we’re more of a man-to-man, we like to move and trap at different areas of the floor, have really taken her strengths and shown them off.”
Destanni Henderson, 5-7 guard
The Gamecocks have been the No. 1 team in the country for nearly the entire season thanks in large part to the floor leadership of Henderson, the Florida native, who also just happens to be one of the quickest players in the country. Henderson, named a WBCA All-American finalist, is averaging 11.1 points a game this season, her season-high, a 23-point performance against Ole Miss in late February. She has scored in double figures in 17 games this season and is the team’s most consistent 3-point shooter, hitting 38.6 percent from beyond the arc. Henderson is heating up from long distance late in the season, with 11 3-pointers in her last five games. Henderson is an All-SEC First-Team selection and AP All-American honorable mention.
Victaria Saxton, 6-2 forward
Saxton’s 11-point, 11-rebound performance in the Elite Eight win over Creighton proved how valuable she is to South Carolina’s interior success and their chances to win a national championship this season. Saxton, from Rome, Georgia, is a three-time SEC Academic Honor Roll honoree and her 33 minutes on the floor in the Gamecocks’ Sweet 16 win over North Carolina was a season-high. She finished that game with 14 rebounds and has pulled down double-digit rebounds in three of USC’s four NCAA wins thus far.
Lexie Hull, 6-1 guard
Hull, the Spokane native has, along with her twin sister Lacie, been the engine that has driven Stanford to its 15th Final Four to defend their national title. Hull has been Stanford’s leading scorer in the tournament, averaging 22.0 points a game to boost her season average to 12.7 (including 59 3-pointers), upping her WNBA Draft stock in the process. Hull is an everything talent who can score, defend and is known for her willingness to hustle and get down on the floor to help her team. She led the team in scoring in eight games this season, has 13 20-point plus games in her career, and ranks second on the Stanford team in minutes played, being All-American Haley Jones, and racked up a team-high 75 steals.