Inside the W with Michelle Smith: Top Draft-Eligible Players

The next WNBA Draft class is shaping up as the 2020-21 college season moves into its prime time. It’s been such an unusual NCAA season thus far, with modified schedules, cancellations, postponements and pauses, but the top collegiate players have shown themselves to be flexible and tough during a difficult time and that will only prepare them for the rigors of the WNBA.

We are taking a look at some of the top draft-eligible players in the 2021 WNBA Draft. With the NCAA offering winter-sport athletes another year of eligibility, many players will be weighing the decision about whether to continue their college careers for another year or turn pro.

Shakira Austin, Mississippi. Austin, the 6-foot-5 junior center who transferred to Ole Miss after beginning her career at Maryland, will be draft-eligible. She is averaging 17.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game this season. One of the few true centers, Austin’s size and finishing ability will make her appealing to many teams.

Charli Collier, Texas. The Longhorns’ 6-foot-5 center, who wears No. 35 in honor of her idol Kevin Durant, could be the No. 1 pick by a New York Liberty team looking for size inside to go with the young guard talents of Sabrina Ionescu and Asia Durr. Collier is technically a junior, but will be draft-eligible for 2021. She is averaging 21.6 points and 9.9 rebounds a game so far this season, with a 44-point, 16-rebound game under her belt against North Texas earlier in the season. In addition to being a paint presence, she has made 33 career 3-pointers at Texas.

Rennia Davis, Tennessee. A three-year starter for the Lady Vols, Davis is versatile, a strong ball-handler and compares her game to Chicago’s Diamond DeShields, which is not a bad place to start for a WNBA prospect. Davis, who is averaging 13.3 points and 8.6 rebounds said in the fall that she is considering returning to Tennessee for a fifth season, but isn’t ready to make a decision until the end of the season.

Chelsea Dungee, Arkansas. The Razorback’s fifth-year senior guard is among the nation’s leading scorers at 20.5 points per game and has been a proven scorer throughout her college career. Dungee has now scored at least 20 points in all four of Arkansas’ SEC games and has a double-digit scoring streak of 17 games.

Dana Evans, Louisville. Whoever takes Evans, the reigning ACC Player of the Year, will get both scoring and defense from the 5-foot-6 guard from Gary, Indiana. Evans is leading the unbeaten Cardinals in scoring at 19.7 points and 4.2 assists per game.

Arella Guirantes, Rutgers. Guirantes is a fifth-year senior who chose to return to the college game this season to finish her career on a high note. The Big Ten’s leading scorer last season is picking up where she left off and then some. Guirantes ranks in the nation’s Top 30 in points, assists, steals and blocks per game, and is averaging 22.5 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 5.4 APG, 3.1 SPG and 2.3 BPG in 2020-21 with a pair of 30-point performances.

Natasha Mack, Oklahoma State. The 6-foot-4 senior forward, who came to Stillwater as a junior college transfer (and the national junior college player of the year) last season, is quickly seeing her pro stock rise. Mack, one of the best frontcourt prospects, is averaging 17.9 points and 11.1 rebounds a game and is a strong shot-blocker, as evidenced by her 10-block performance against TCU on January 6, a day that ended with Mack notching a triple-double to go with 28 points and 17 rebounds.

Aari McDonald, Arizona. Perhaps the quickest player in the country and a strong finisher at the rim, McDonald is one of the marquee names to look out for because of her consistent ability to score, and her lock-down perimeter defense. She is a dynamic playmaker on one end of the floor and disruptive on the other. And she will push the tempo. McDonald, the reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, stayed at Arizona one more year to round out her game and finish her college experience. That should pay off with a high selection.

Michaela Onyenwere, UCLA. Onyenwere has a pro profile with athleticism, length and speed in the open court. She is versatile and understands her role as a team’s go-to scorer. She has a strong-mid-range game with room to improve her long distance shooting. The 6-0 forward might be considered undersized to play the wing in the WNBA, but her skill set is going to make her a very appealing prospect.

Evina Westbrook, Connecticut. Westbrook, the redshirt junior who transferred to Storrs from Tennessee, sat out the 2019-20 season per NCAA transfer rules. Westbrook is beginning to find her form, scoring in double figures in four straight games for the Huskies, including a promising performance against Villanova late in December in which she finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four steals. Westbrook has more time to both raise her game and her WNBA stock.

Kiana Williams, Stanford. One of the best floor leaders in the college game on the No. 1 team in the country, Williams should get a look. Williams can dish, defend and shoot the 3. She will bring a mature, high IQ game to the WNBA, something that every coach wants in a young guard.

Longtime WNBA reporter Michelle Smith writes a weekly column on throughout the season. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the WNBA or its clubs.