Senior Watch: A Closer Look at the Backcourt

In the first week of February we’ve seen a flurry of free agent signings, multiple trades and one blockbuster deal that will have implications on the upcoming WNBA Draft. Teams are filling needs with free agents and trade acquisitions with many of those trades involving draft picks come April.

As player movement begins to slow down in the coming weeks, teams will shift focus to the draft for acquiring new talent, with three teams owning a pair of first round picks – San Antonio (Nos. 1 and 5), Chicago (Nos. 2 and 9) and Dallas (Nos. 10 and 11) – as things stand right now.

But what will teams need when draft day arrives? Will they be looking to bolster their frontline with power forwards and centers that can score on the block, rebound and protect the rim? Or will they look for perimeter help, whether it be a dead-eye shooter, a versatile wing or a playmaking point guard? That is where we begin our breakdown of top prospects by position, with a closer look at the top senior guards that will head to the WNBA in April.

Kelsey Plum, Washington

Where else should we start a look at the top guards in the country than college basketball’s leading scorer (30.9 ppg) and the top pick in CBS Sports’ first 2017 WNBA Mock Draft. The most recent member of the 3,000 point club has been a model of consistency and efficiency this season. She has scored at least 20 in all 25 of Washington’s game this season and is close to putting up a 50-40-90 season at the same time. Plum is currently shooting 53.0% from the field, 44.7% from beyond the arc (making 3.5 treys per game) and 89.3% from the free throw line. Her ability to create her own shot, stretch the floor with her shooting range, get to the free throw line, and find teammates for easy baskets (she leads her team with 5.1 assists) should all translate to the WNBA game.

Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, Maryland

We can break down Shatori Walker-Kimbrough’s speed and quickness, her court vision and playmaking ability, her drives to the basket, her pull-up shot off the dribble and catch-and-shoot game from beyond the arc and how all of those skills will help her in the WNBA. Or we can just show this 70-foot buzzer beater that she hit last weekend in Maryland’s win over Indiana.

Alexis Peterson and Brittney Sykes, Syracuse

Syracuse has dubbed Peterson and Sykes as America’s Best Backcourt and the senior duo has as good an argument as any in women’s college hoops for that title. Their combined 42.8 combined points leads all backcourt duos as both rank in the top 30 in the nation in scoring.

Peterson is the only player in the country to rank in the top 10 in both scoring (4th at 23.7 ppg) and assists (8th at 7.2 apg). When she’s not driving past defenders to set up shots for herself or her teammates, Peterson is stretching the floor by shooting a career-best 38.6% from beyond the arc. She is also an elite defender, ranked 12th in the country with 3.3 steals per game.

The other half of the Orange backcourt is Brittney Sykes, a versatile shooting guard that does a little bit of everything on the court. In addition to her 19.1 points per game (28th in the country), she also averages 7.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.5 steals and nearly a block per game. She has also added the 3-point shot to her game – knocking down the same number of 3-pointers this season (40) as she had in her entire career before this season and doing so at a 40.4% clip. Her ability to defend and rebound – in addition to her scoring and shooting – make her an attractive prospect for any WNBA team.

Alexis Jones, Baylor

“Last week messed around and got a triple double” is not just a great lyric from Ice Cube’s It Was A Good Day, but a perfect way to open this discussion on Alexis Jones. In Baylor’s win over No. 20 Wisconsin on Jan. 29, she posted just the sixth triple-double in school history and the first not done by Brittney Griner.

All five of Griner’s triple-doubles came with blocked shots, so Jones can claim the first ever points-rebounds-assists triple-double in school history. And even better, Baylor cut a highlight reel with every point, rebound and assist from Jones in that game – a great way to showcase everything this redshirt senior brings to the table.

Lindsay Allen, Notre Dame

Allen continues her climb up the Notre Dame record book as she passed Skylar Diggins for second all-time in career assists. The senior guard averages 7.7 assists per game (3rd in the country) and is on pace become the all-time leader in school history by the end of the month. She is just seven assists away from her third straight season with at least 200 dimes. In Monday’s matchup with No. 12 Louisville, Allen scored a season-high 15 points to go with her customary 8 assists (with only 2 turnovers) and 4 steals.

Tune In On Sunday

Sunday features a women’s college basketball triple-header on ESPN2 with both No. 2 Baylor (Alexis Jones) and No. 3 Maryland (Shatori Walker-Kimbrough) in action.

  • Tulane vs. #22 South Florida – 9:00 AM ESPN2
  • #3 Maryland vs. Michigan State – 11:00 AM ESPN2
  • #2 Baylor vs. TCU – 1:00 PM ESPN2