WNBA coaches, GMs tab A’ja Wilson for top pick in mock draft

NEW YORK (AP) — The Associated Press polled a panel of WNBA coaches and general managers for a mock draft of the first two rounds of the league’s draft next week. Panelists were limited to players eligible for the draft, and couldn’t pick players from their own team. The top few picks have been consistent over the three mock drafts. The WNBA draft is April 12 at the Nike headquarters in New York.

First Round:

Las Vegas: A’ja Wilson , South Carolina. She won every major college award and is the consensus top pick in the draft, giving the Aces a strong inside presence.

Indiana: Kelsey Mitchell , Ohio State. A dynamic scorer, Mitchell will give the Fever a top offensive threat to build around.

Chicago (from Atlanta): Diamond DeShields, Cukurova, Turkey. DeShields played professionally in Turkey this winter and is the leading scorer on her team.

Chicago: Azura Stevens , UConn. A surprise entrant in the draft, causes havoc for opponents on both ends of the court.

Seattle: Jordin Canada , UCLA. A quick guard who can score and pass the ball. Had a superb NCAA Tournament helping her draft stock and she can learn from Sue Bird.

Dallas: Gabby Williams , UConn. The most athletic player in the draft, can guard nearly any position.

Washington: Victoria Vivians , Mississippi State. Led the Bulldogs to the championship game, falling short again. She’s a talented scorer that gives the Mystics another tough offensive threat.

Indiana (from Phoenix): Maria Vadeeva, Dynamo Kursk, Russia. The young Russian star has been playing professionally on one of the best teams in the country. Pokey Chatman knows all about her and she will be a strong interior presence for the Fever.

Connecticut: Kia Nurse , UConn. It’s always tough to pass up on a Husky in Connecticut. She’s a solid guard who would give the Sun another good defender and smart offensive player who knows how to win.

New York: Ariel Atkins , Texas. An all-around guard who would provide a little more speed for the Liberty.

Los Angeles: Stephanie Mavunga , Ohio State. A tenacious rebounder, would give coach Brian Agler another strong young player in the post.

Phoenix (from Minnesota): Marie Gulich , Oregon State. Nobody saw their draft stock rise in the NCAA Tournament like the 6-foot-5 Gulich. Showed she can play with the best posts in the country.

Second Round:

Las Vegas: Myisha Hines-Allen , Louisville. Would give the Aces another solid rebounder to complement Wilson. She’s only the second Louisville player to grab over 1,000 boards in her career.

Indiana: Monique Billings , UCLA: A tremendous rebounder who runs the floor well and adds depth to the post for Chatman’s team.

Connecticut (from Atlanta): Lexie Brown , Duke: Brown is one of the top point guards in college basketball and only saw her draft position fall because of positional needs. She will be a strong contributor in the backcourt for the Sun.

Atlanta (from Chicago): Mercedes Russell , Tennessee: Adds another solid post player for the Dream who can protect the rim and as well as score.

Minnesota (from Seattle): Tyler Scaife , Rutgers: Gives Cheryl Reeve some depth in the backcourt after losing a few players to retirement and free agency.

Dallas: Shakayla Thomas , Florida State. Thomas bolsters coach Fred Williams’ frontcourt.

Washington: Jaime Nared , Tennessee. Stepped her game up this season and will provide some depth for the Mystics.

Phoenix: Kristy Wallace , Baylor. Coach Sandy Brondello is very familiar with this Aussie, who tore her ACL right before the end of the season. She can stash the guard away while she recovers from the injury.

Phoenix (from Connecticut): Loryn Goodwin , Oklahoma State. This well-traveled player, who also went to Butler and UTSA, can definitely score the ball.

New York: Brooke McCarty , Texas. Another 3-pointer shooter for Katie Smith to work into the rotation.

Los Angeles: Mikayla Cowling , Cal. A versatile player who can score, pass and rebound.

Minnesota: Natalie Butler , George Mason. Played on three teams in college starting at Georgetown before heading to UConn and finally George Mason. She’s a really strong rebounder.


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