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Inside The W with Michelle Smith: Top Prospects for WNBA Draft 2020

Tuesday night’s WNBA Draft Lottery opens the door to the next class of talented rookies that will come into the world’s best women’s basketball league in April.

As the lottery picks are determined, let’s take a quick look at 12 of the top draft-eligible players in the collegiate game who could hear their names called come spring.

Bella Alarie, Princeton. A 6-4 forward who broke the Ivy League’s single-game scoring mark last season with 45 points against Columbia and averaging nearly 23 points and 11 rebounds a game last season as a junior.

Kaila Charles, Maryland. Charles needs to improve as a 3-point shooter in order to be a more effective guard in the WNBA. But she has so many of the tools she already needs, including her ability to drive to the basket and finish. Charles put up 36 points in the Big Ten title game last season and finished with an impressive 17.0 points per game average. She was one of five finalists for the Cheryl Miller Award, recognizing the nation’s best small forward.

Te’a Cooper, Baylor. Cooper will be a graduate transfer for the Lady Bears after departing both South Carolina and Tennessee during her collegiate career. Cooper is slated to play point guard for Kim Mulkey, learning from one of the best coaches in the game. Cooper led South Carolina as a junior, averaging 11.9 points a game.

Lauren Cox, Baylor. The versatile 6-foot-4 post from Baylor, who sustained a knee injury in the national championship game in April is reportedly recovering nicely and is expected to be back on the floor for the Bears as they defend their title. Cox is in the mold of a Breanna Stewart or Elena Delle Donne with size, perimeter ability and strong post play.

Crystal Dangerfield, Connecticut. The Huskies point guard has played in big games, and looks like a great backup option for a team looking to groom its next great point guard. Dangerfield makes good decisions and can be a streaky scorer for a team that is looking for a player off the bench who can provide a hot hand.

Ruthy Hebard, Oregon. Sabrina Ionescu’s partner-in-crime in Eugene (see below), Hebard was hobbled late last season or else the Ducks might have won that title after all. Hebard has the size and ability to change the game inside. She is a very strong finisher – with some of the best field-goal percentage numbers in the history of the Pac-12 – a tenacious rebounder and can block shots. She could provide a team needed depth in the post.

Joyner Holmes, Texas. Holmes had ankle surgery in the fall of 2018 that hindered her junior season, but the 6-3 forward averaged the most rebounds and third-most points for the Longhorns. In her senior year, she’s looking for a breakout season now that she’s healthy.

Sabrina Ionescu, Oregon. Ionescu will enter the season viewed as the likely No. 1 pick for the team that is lucky enough to earn that spot Tuesday. The NCAA leader in triple-doubles (men or women) is the reigning Wade Trophy and Wooden Award winner and viewed as a game-changing talent for her ability to do it all for her team – score, rebound, assist and lead from the point. Ionescu passed on entering the draft in 2019 to spend one more year with her Ducks teammates in a quest for a championship, and her team will be among the favorites to win an NCAA Title. But there is every reason to be excited about her new chapter as well.

Aari McDonald, Arizona. McDonald was among the nation’s leading scorers last season for one of the country’s up-and-coming teams, leading the Wildcats to the WNIT title. McDonald is the focal point of every defensive scheme and yet still gets her points on a consistent basis, suggesting that she’s capable of being an offensive spark. She is rewriting the record books at Arizona, owning the school’s single-season scoring record and is one of two players in Pac-12 history with 800 points and 150 assists in a single season.

Beatrice Mompremier, Miami. Mompremier is not as well known nationally out of Miami, but the 6-4 forward has quickness, athleticism and power. She averaged better than 16 points and 12 rebounds a game in her junior season and those kind of consistent numbers will get you noticed at the next level.

Mikayla Pivec, Oregon State. Pivec has been a do-everything player for the Beavers in her career, having played point guard, shooting guard and small forward. In addition to being a strong shooter and passer, she plays her heart out at the defensive end. Pivec averaged 15.2 points and 9.2 rebounds a game last season, and shot 52.6 percent from the floor.

Destiny Slocum, Oregon State. Pivec’s backcourt mate is a dynamic point guard who has great shooting range and the ability to create offensive opportunities for herself. She also has an eye for the big moment and the clutch play. Slocum averaged 15.4 points a game as a redshirt sophomore and 4.5 assists per game.

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.