As the WNBA rests for the offseason, the next crop of stars is just picking up steam in their final collegiate seasons before taking their talents to the next level. But who will be selected in the 2017 WNBA Draft is still a fluid conversation heading into December.
For now, here are some seniors who have been standing out:
Alaina Coates – C, South Carolina
At 6-4 with a nose for the basketball around the rim, Coates is cut from the same cloth as reigning league scoring champion, Tina Charles. A member of the 2015-16 All-SEC team, Coates has been even more impressive this season. She’s averaging a double-double through her first five games to the tune of 16.6 points, and 12.8 rebounds per game. Both numbers are also team highs, while her 12.8 rebounds are tied for third most in the country.
Coates already holds a number of records at South Carolina including the most double-doubles and rebounds in an SEC career. She’s the most skilled big in the Class of 2017 and will be an immediate contributor to whichever team selects her. She likely won’t have to wait very long to hear her name called.
Kelsey Plum – G, Washington
The 5-8 guard is an absolute scoring machine. Through the Huskies first seven games, Plum is averaging a ridiculous 29.9 points per game, the highest clip in the country. She’s also getting her buckets efficiently, shooting above the harrowed 50/40/90 marks — 52% from the field, 44% from three and 91% from the foul line.
Plum is a natural-born scorer who can hurt a defense in a variety of ways with or without the ball in her hands, which makes her a valuable asset on the next level.
Shatori Walker-Kimbrough – G, Maryland
Walker-Kimbrough is a whirlwind on the floor and has Maryland out to an undefeated start (6-0). At 5-11, Walker-Kimbrough is a bigger guard who uses her height to her advantage. She leads Maryland in both points per game (15.7) and 3-point shooting percentage (50%).
If Maryland can continue to mow down opponents, Walker-Kimbrough will likely be the one leading the charge.
Alexis Jones – G, Baylor
A big reason behind why the Baylor Lady Bears are the fourth-ranked team in the country has been the play of Jones, an athletic guard whose motor is constantly running. Her 16.4 points per game are the highest mark on the the Lady Bears roster while her 27.1 minutes played per game are the second most. The squad is fresh off its most important victory of the season yet, an 85-68 statement win over the eighth-ranked the Ohio State Buckeyes. Jones led all scorers in the win with 20 points and shot an impressive 8-for-13 from the field.
Nina Davis – F, Baylor
You don’t have to look very far for the next senior to watch, as Davis is the yang to Jones’ ying for the Lady Bears. Davis is averaging 10.5 points and 3.9 rebounds per game and does most of her damage within 15 feet. She may be undersized for the forward position, but she compensates with her tireless work ethic on both ends of the floor.
The reigning Big 12 Player of the Year and a three-year member of the All-Big 12 First Team, Davis will be looking to add to her already full trophy case in 2017.
Nia Coffey – F, Northwestern
Despite not cracking the AP Top 25 poll, Northwestern and Coffey are out to a blazing start to the 2016-17 season. The Wildcats are 5-1 on the season and Nia Coffey’s 22.5 points per game are not only a team-high but would be a career-high for the 6’1″ forward. Coffey has seen her game grow each year at Northwestern and appears to be saving her best for last.
When Coffey isn’t scoring in bunches, she’s nabbing rebounds with the best of them, averaging a team and career-high 12.0 per game. Coffey is a double-double waiting to happen and could have the Wildcats poised to be the surprise team of the 2016-17 women’s collegiate basketball season. Fresh off her the best scoring performance of her young season Sunday, a 30-point output in a win over Evansville, Nia Coffey will be a name to remember.