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Senior Watch: Championship Week 2019 – Eyes on the Pac-12’s Top WNBA Draft Prospects

After opening championship week with a closer look at the top prospects from the ACC, we now shift to the opposite coast and examine the Pac-12 as its conference tournament got underway Thursday in Las Vegas.

Note: All times Pacific Standard Time; all games on Pac-12 Network unless otherwise noted; numbers associated with each team are tournament seeds, not national rankings.

First Round – Thursday, March 7

The tournament tipped off on Thursday with eight teams in action while each of the top four seeds earned a bye into Friday’s second round. Each of Thursday’s four games featured at least one WNBA prospect to keep an eye on. Below is a quick review of the opening round games and more information on the prospects involved.

No. 5 Arizona State 66, No. 12 Colorado 49

In the opening game, Arizona State knocked off Colorado, 66-49, to advance to the second round. This game featured a pair of WNBA prospects in Colorado point guard Kennedy Leonard and Arizona State forward Kianna Ibis.

Kennedy Leonard, Colorado

Leonard finished with six points, five rebounds and three assists in 34 minutes for the Buffaloes. Leonard’s senior season did not go as planned as the Colorado floor general missed 10 games over six weeks due to a foot injury. When she was healthy, she contributed on multiple levels as she led the team in points (12.9), assists (6.9, 2nd in Pac-12) and steals (2.8, led Pac-12). The 5-8 guard is Colorado’s all-time assist leader and earned first team All-Pac-12 honors the past two seasons; that streak was cut short this season due to her missed time.

Kianna Ibis, Arizona State

Ibis had six points and five rebounds in 23 minutes for the Sun Devils, who will face No. 4 seed UCLA on Friday morning. This was only the fifth single-digit scoring game of the season for Ibis, Arizona State’s leading scorer at 14.6 points per game. She has eight 20-point games, including a season-best 28 points in a win over Oregon State on Jan. 20. The 6-1 forward can score from all three levels – down on the block, from mid-range and out to the 3-point line, where she shot 33.3% on 2.5 attempts per game on the season.

No. 8 Arizona 76, No. 9 USC 48

The Wildcats put this game away in the second quarter when they outscored the Trojans 23-7 to take a commanding 44-21 lead into the locker room. USC senior Miraya Moore got off to a cold start as she missed her first 10 shots; she finished with a team-high 12 points on 2-14 shooting from the field and 7-8 from the foul line.

Mariya Moore, USC

After playing three years at Louisville, Miraya Moore transferred to USC to play alongside her younger sister Minyon. After sitting out last season due to transfer rules, Miraya Moore returned to the court and posted averages of 13.1 points (3rd on team), 4.4 rebounds (3rd on team), 3.6 assists (2nd on team) and a team-high 58 pointers. She has five 20-point games on the season with two of those coming in the final three games of the season – 30 in a loss to Oregon and 25 in an overtime win over Utah to close the regular season. Earlier in the season, she had a career-best 36 points in a loss to California, scoring the most points by a USC player in a game since 1990.

No. 7 California 77, No. 10 Washington State 58

After closing out the regular season against one another on Sunday, the Bears and Cougars met four days later in the opening round of the Pac-12 Tournament. The result was the same as Cal defeated Washington State, 77-58 to advance. Cal senior Kristine Anigwe followed up her 32-30 game on Sunday with 27 points and 16 boards on Thursday.

Kristine Anigwe, California

When discussing Kristine Anigwe, her epic 32-point, 30-rebound performance last Sunday against Washington State has to be brought up. Not only was it the first 30-30 game in Division I women’s basketball since 2002, it also tied the Pac-12 single-game rebounding. But perhaps the most important “30” of that performance is the fact that it was Anigwe’s 30th consecutive double-double. As great as Sunday’s performance was, her dominance on the glass and in the paint has become routine; she has five 20-point, 20-rebound games this season.  The 6-4 forward/center leads the NCAA in rebounding (16.4 per game) and ranks sixth in scoring (23.1 per game) while shooting 52.8% from the field (41st in NCAA). She became the 15th player in Pac-12 history to be named to the all-Conference team four times.

 

 

No. 6 Utah vs. No. 11 Washington

After the higher seeds prevailed in the first three games of the day, No. 11 Washington pulled off an upset of No. 6 Utah to close out the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament behind a 23-point night from sophomore guard Missy Peterson. Utah senior Megan Huff finished with 10 points and a game-high 17 boards, but shot just 3-15 from the field on Thursday.

Megan Huff, Utah

The 6-3 power forward was named to the All-Pac-12 team for the second straight year after averaging 20.0 points (4th Pac-12, 24th NCAA), 9.6 rebounds (2nd Pac-12, 45th NCAA) and collecting 16 double-doubles (2nd Pac-12, 16th NCAA) in her senior season. She had 15 20-point games, including a pair of 30-point performances with 38 against Oregon and 30 against USC in the final game of the regular season. She also leads the Utes in blocks (32) and 3-pointers made (50) as she shoots 38.5% from beyond the arc.

Quarterfinals – Friday, March 8

  • 4 UCLA vs. No. 5 Arizona State (11:30 a.m.)
  • 1 Oregon vs. No. 8 Arizona (2:00 p.m.)
  • 2 Stanford vs. No. 7 California (6:00 p.m.)
  • 3 Oregon State vs. No. 11 Washington (8:30 p.m.)

Kennedy Burke, G, UCLA

When UCLA lost two players to the WNBA last season – Jordin Canada and Monique Billings – it left large shoes to fill for the Bruins. Senior guard Kennedy Burke responded by having the best season of her collegiate career – posting career-best marks in points (14.8), rebounds (5.9), assists (2.5) and field goal percentage (49.3%). She also led the team in steals (56) and finished second in blocks (25) while earning All-Pac-12 Defensive Team honors. The 6-foot-1 wing boasts a combination of size, strength and athleticism that allows her to play multiple positions and a versatility to her game that allows her to stuff the stat sheet on any given night.

Maite Cazorla, Oregon

On a team stocked with great talent like the No. 6 nationally ranked Oregon Ducks, it’s easy for a player like Maite Cazorla to be overlooked. But that would be a mistake. The 5-10 guard from Spain is a consistent and important piece of the puzzle for Oregon. She chips in 10.2 points (5th on team), 4.6 assists (2nd on team), 1.1 steals (3rd on team) and 1.4 rebounds while shooting 50.7% from the field and 41.5% from beyond the arc – one of four Ducks to shoot better than 40% from three on over 100 attempts this season. In addition to her time with the Ducks, Cazorla has gained valuable experience playing with the Spanish national team’s youth teams since she was 12 years old.

Alanna Smith, Stanford

After averaging 13.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.77 blocks per game last season, Alanna Smith took her game up a notch for her senior season at Stanford as she is averaging 19.7 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.45 blocks heading into Pac-12 Tournament play. The 6-4 forward from Australia is shooting 51.7 percent from the field and 39.9 percent from beyond the arc on 5.6 attempts per game. She is the only player in the NCAA this season to rank in the top 30 in both scoring (28th) and blocks (T-21st). Earlier this week, Smith was named to her second All Pac-12 team, earned Pac-12 All-Defensive team honors and was named Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year for her efforts both on the court and in the classroom.

Katie McWilliams, Oregon State

While her per-game numbers don’t leap off the page – 8.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.1 3-pointers per game on 39.3% shooting – Katie McWilliams finds ways to contribute for the No. 11 nationally ranked Beavers. Her 6-foot-2 frame allows her to play multiple backcourt positions. Her 3-point shooting (42.5% as a junior, 39.0% for her collegiate career) and defense (Pac-12 All-Defense honorable mention) are skills that every team can use in today’s game.

Semifinals – Saturday, March 9

  • Game 1 (6:00 p.m.)
  • Game 2 (8:30 p.m.)

Finals – Sunday, March 10

  • Championship Game (5:00 p.m., ESPN2)