We’re less than a month removed from the conclusion of another epic WNBA Finals, but its never too early to start thinking about next season.
With the announcement that the 2018 WNBA Draft Lottery will be held Nov. 13, what better time to start looking at the top prospects that will put in the work this winter with the hopes of beginning their WNBA journeys next April.
Below are eight of the top seniors that will be eligible to enter the 2018 WNBA Draft. Keep an eye on them throughout this upcoming collegiate season – which tips off this Friday – to catch of glimpse of the next generation of WNBA players.
When we last saw A’ja Wilson on the court, she scored a game-high 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead South Carolina past Mississippi State in the NCAA title game to give the Gamecocks their first national championship. Wilson has been named SEC Player of the Year and earned All-America First Team honors in each of the last two years and is favored to do so again this season. The 6-5 forward has an incredible mix of size and quickness that makes her a nightmare to defend for opponents.
Mitchell was eligible to enter the WNBA following her junior season last year, but chose to return to Ohio State for her senior season. During that announcement she mentioned her goals of earning her degree and reaching the Final Four as two of the key factors in her decision. If the Buckeyes are to make it back to the Final Four for the first time since 1993, the three-time All-American Mitchell will be a big reason why. She ranked ninth in the nation in scoring last season (22.6 points per game) and sixth in 3-pointers made (115). She can flat out score from anywhere on the court whether she’s driving to the rim, knocking down a three or hitting a pull-up from the space in between.
The 2016 WNBA Draft was a rarity in that it did not feature a player from the University of Connecticut until the third round. That will not be the case in 2018 as Gabby Williams should be one of the early names called on draft night. Williams is essentially a do-everything player that stuffs the stat sheet on a nightly basis. Last season she averaged 14.3 points, 8.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 2.7 steals and 1.4 blocks in under 30 minutes per game. Last season she became the first post player to lead UConn in assists and recorded just the fifth triple-double in program history as she had 16 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists in a win over East Carolina.
After UConn was surprisingly eliminated in the Final Four, Kia Nurse got back to winning titles by leading the Canadian national team to the FIBA AmeriCup gold medal. The senior guard returns to Storrs in search of her third collegiate title. A year ago she averaged 12.7 points, 3.9 assists and 2.1 rebounds while knocking down 73 3-pointers in 33 games at a team-best 46.2 percent. During UConn’s run to the Final Four, Nurse knocked down 22 3-pointers goals to set a new record for 3-pointers made in a single NCAA Tournament.
We go from a player from Canada to a player named Canada that hails from Los Angeles. Jordin Canada spurned bigger programs to stay in her hometown and try to lead the UCLA Bruins to their first NCAA championship. The 5-6 point guard is the catalyst for the UCLA offense; she led the team in scoring (17.8), ranked ninth in the nation in assists (7.1) and is an outstanding rebounder for her position, grabbing 5.2 per contest. She recorded just the sixth triple-double in program history last season and fell one assist shy of being the first to do so in back-to-back games. With her quickness, she excels in the open floor, but can facilitate and score in the half-court as well.
In the biggest win in the history for the Mississippi State program – the national semifinal upset of UConn – Vivians led the Bulldogs with 19 points in MSU’s 66-64 overtime win. Vivians, who was named to the All-Final Four Team, led the Bulldogs in scoring all season at 16.2 points per game to go with 4.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.4 steals. While she still needs to improve her shooting percentages (37.1 from the field and 28.1 from three last season) she did lead the team with 64 3-pointers made.
Last season, Myisha Hines-Allen averaged 13.9 points and 9.3 rebounds while shooting 49.3 percent from the field. Her 17 double-doubles in 36 games ranked 12th in the NCAA. During the Cardinals’ three-game run in the NCAA Tournament, Hines-Allen averaged a double-double with 15.8 points and 10.3 rebounds while shooting 50.6 percent. Can that uptick in production that Hines-Allen provided in the postseason carry over to her senior season for the 10th ranked Cardinals? Hines-Allen has shown the ability to score with her back to the basket or facing up and shooting from 15-20 feet. She is a proven scorer that averaged 17.6 points per game as a sophomore when she earned ACC Player of the Year honors.
Every team needs shooters and when it comes to seniors that can make it rain, few do it better than Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty. The 5-7 guard knocked down 109 3-pointers last season – the eighth most in the NCAA – as she averaged 20.2 points and 3.0 assists in 33.9 minutes per game for the Wolverine. She had 20 20-point games and three 30-point games last season, including career-best 38 point effort as she set a school record with eight 3-pointers against Ohio State. The Wolverines failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, but did win the WNIT thanks to tournament MVP Flaherty. In a triple-overtime marathon, Flaherty played 51 minutes and finished with a game-high 27 points, including a pair of 3-pointers late in regulation that forced extra time.