WNBA draft eligible players face tight timeframe
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Notre Dame junior guard Jackie Young said Saturday that she hasn’t made a decision yet about entering the WNBA draft but time is quickly running out.
She has 24 hours after the final buzzer Sunday night to decide whether she wants to turn pro foregoing her final season of eligibility at Notre Dame. Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu’s clock started after the Ducks lost to Baylor Friday night. Both can enter the draft because they will turn 22 this year.
“There’s a lot of pressure on them, things they shouldn’t have to be thinking about at this moment, at this juncture when it’s so important for us as a team to come out and play well without that hanging on their head,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said.
McGraw’s four other starters are projected to potentially be drafted as well Wednesday. Baylor senior Kalani Brown also is expected to be taken in the first round. She’s been focused on trying to get Baylor it’s first title since 2012.
“I know (it’s Wednesday),” Brown said with a sigh. “I haven’t even thought about it. My mom has been trying to buy clothes and help me out. I am excited about what comes next.”
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Both Baylor and Notre Dame have a pair of dominating post players and controlling the boards will likely play a pivotal role.
“I think a huge emphasis is going to be on rebounding and crashing the boards hard,” Young said.
Brown had 22 points and seven rebounds, and Lauren Cox added 21 points, 11 boards and seven assists in the Lady Bears’ 72-67 semifinal win over Oregon.
The Fighting Irish’s inside duo were equally key in the 81-76 semifinal victory over UConn. Brianna Turner contributed 15 points and 15 rebounds, while Jessica Shepard scored 20 and pulled down 13 rebounds.
“If you’re competitive like I am, you accept the challenge and have fun with it,” Cox said. “They work well together like Kalani and I do.”
Turner and Shepard combined for 13 offensive rebounds as Notre Dame had 22 second-chance points against the Huskies.
“I’m excited for the challenge,” Turner said.
Former UConn star Stefanie Dolson is no stranger to making the Final Four. She did it all four years with the Huskies, winning two national championships.
Now she’s back in a different kind of Final Four — the Captain Morgan Pose-Off Bracket Challenge.
“It’s just my time of year,” Dolson said laughing in a phone interview. “I’ve got to game plan, think of some strategies, my outfit, something I got to do a little creatively to get the edge. My height will help a little bit. I got to brain storm.”
She’ll face TV host Rachel DeMita in the semifinals of the challenge in Minnesota at the men’s Final Four.
It’s been a fun last few months for the Chicago Sky’s star center. A huge Avengers fan, Dolson was able to attend the premiere of the Captain Marvel movie and bring her younger brother.
“It was amazing. I’m a huge Marvel fan in general, my younger brother reads all the comics, sees all the movies,” she said. “He made me into this crazy fan. We got these tattoos for the Avengers and now I’m the coolest older sister ever.”
Dolson had the pleasure of meeting actor Samuel L. Jackson at the premiere and got him to follow her on Instagram.
“He was really nice, he was very cool,” Dolson said.
Florida governor Ron DeSantis met with NCAA officials and afterwards said the Women’s Final Four could be back in the Tampa Bay area for the fourth time during the middle of the next decade. The championship sites have been determined through 2024.
AP College Basketball Writer Doug Feinberg contributed to this report.