Players have been scouted, game tape has been studied and priorities have been set. Days before WNBA Draft 2016, the head coaches who joined Friday’s conference call are surely prepared for any scenario that will play out next Thursday in Connecticut.
They gave insight into their Draft preparation and thoughts on this year’s class:
On whether Seattle’s No. 1 pick is a foregone conclusion:
Storm Head Coach Jenny Boucek: “We’ve actually had some interesting offers. We’ll keep taking offers until the last possible minute, but it would take a lot. Take a lot.”
On how this year’s Draft class compares to previous years’:
Wings Head Coach Fred Williams: “I think it has a lot of players that are pretty much pro ready. It all depends on the organization they get with, but I thought looking into this draft before the college season started, you kind of scratched your head on a few players, but I thought there were about six or seven players that are going to really make this a pretty good Draft, where maybe seven or eight players can really stick with a team throughout the season. Compared to the other Drafts, it’s pretty solid.”
On UConn’s Moriah Jefferson:
Williams: “She’s a fine player. I think she’s one of the quickest players I’ve seen in a long time that has entered in the Draft, and will probably be labeled as one of the quickest players as a rookie, whatever team she’s with who selects her. I just think she’s got a great upside to her.
For me, I compared her to, on the men’s side of things, like a Maurice Cheeks or a Chris Paul type player who can score and also get to the rim and who’s just tenacious on defense. Whoever gets her is going to have a fine player.
Who she compares to, pretty much one of the teams that may select her, with Danielle Robinson, with her quick speed and her ability to facilitate to the basket, and I think what Jefferson has more is the outside range from outside, of shooting the three-point shot.”
On whether the Wings will select Texas’ Imani Boyette:
Williams: “Well, I want to eat my beans, so I don’t want to spill them. I’d like to keep them all in the bowl.
You know, she’s — I can say that she’s really, really high on our list to look at in that selection of three players that could be there for us, and I can really tell you that she’s a post player that we’re strongly considering. That’s pretty much all I can tell you right now. I’ll tell you the rest when it comes to next Thursday.”
On South Florida’s Courtney Williams:
Sun Head Coach Curt Miller: “She’s a tremendous athlete, first and foremost. It jumps off the charts. (USF head coach) Jose (Fernandez) had her in a pro-style game at South Florida. They run a lot of floppy. They run an awful lot of ball screens. She’s tremendous in that mid-range game and rises up despite her size and is a terrific mid-range shooter.”
Liberty Head Coach Bill Laimbeer: “She’s got some speed to her. Her hops are what get her the ability to score. She can raise up over people, and she’s not afraid. Whether her build translates into being successful as a WNBA 2-guard, I think that’s going to be one question mark about her. She’s getting beat up a little bit by some of the physical 2s out there; whether she can move and take a leap guard position depending on what system; if she can do that and become a combo guard, I think that’ll be even more of an opportunity for her for a long-term career.”
On George Washington’s Jonquel Jones:
Miller: “Jonquel is a tremendous stretch-4 with great size that can give you some minutes at the 5. There’s not very many people with her kind of skill set in the league — she can play so well on the perimeter with her passing, shooting and driving ability. She’s got a bright future, and despite missing some games late in that season with her clavicle situation, she’s very intriguing to all of us.
Certainly when you think of the size she brings to the table, and myself being out in L.A. last year, she does some of the things that Candace Parker did as a stretch-4 and be able to facilitate and almost play like a point-forward. People that are younger, some people want to compare her to Amber Harris, who’s not in the in the league currently, but she’s got a tremendous skill set, and it’s going to be fun to watch and see her progress in the league.”
On what the Sun hope to accomplish with picks Nos. 3 and 4:
Miller: “Since taking over in mid-December, I haven’t been shy about talking about improving our guard depth and our overall three-point shooting in whatever our position. I’m truly a big believer in offensive spacing and spacing is offense, and with some of the talented post players that we inherit, a big thing is creating the proper spacing for them.”
On what the Liberty are looking for in this Draft:
Laimbeer: “I think we’ll get a quality player at 12. I wish we had picks like all the other teams, up there so high. But we’ve done a lot of scouting. We’ve done a lot of interviewing of backgrounds. We’re going to get a quality player, and we expect the player to make our team. Whether they play or not, that’s the hard part right now. We’re pretty locked up at many positions. But overall this is one of those Drafts where you’re going to get a good player late in the first half and probably halfway through the second round that will have a chance to make some ball clubs, and whether they have an impact or not remains to be seen, but we also may just stash a pick this year with the Oregon kid (Jillian Alleyne) because we’ve got a lot of players on our team already.”
On Boyette and returning forward Nneka Enemkpali:
Boucek: “Imani, you can’t teach that size. There’s a lot of need for size around our league. Several teams have a need for that. If you want to compete for championships in our league, you’ve got to be able to deal with (Brittney) Griner and Tina Charles and some of these great post players, preferably without a double-team. So I think she brings value.
In terms of Nneka, we’re real excited to see where she is. We really liked her before she got hurt. She does have, as Coach Laimbeer says, something to hang her hat on in her ability to go get the ball, her nose for the ball, and it reminds me a little bit of a young Rebekkah Brunson when she was coming out of college. We’ll see how healthy she is and what she can do on this level, but we’re real excited to have her in training camp.”