WNBA draft set for Thursday; San Antonio holds No. 1 pick
NEW YORK (AP) — Ruth Riley’s phone has been ringing constantly over the past week. It will only get busier over the next 24 hours.
Such is life for the general manager of the San Antonio Stars, who hold the No. 1 pick in Thursday night’s WNBA draft.
“We’re evaluating all our options,” Riley said Tuesday. “There’s a lot of interest at No. 1 as I’m sure there is every year. We’re looking for something that makes sense for us short and long term, and someone that fits our culture here.”
There has been only one No. 1 pick that has been traded on draft day — Lindsey Harding in 2007. It’s not just the Stars’ top pick that’s drawing interest from other teams. San Antonio also holds the fifth pick.
“People are looking to move up and we’re listening,” said Riley, who is overseeing her first draft as GM of the Stars.
Washington guard Kelsey Plum is the consensus choice at No. 1. She finished her collegiate career as the all-time leading scorer in NCAA history and was the AP Player of the Year.
“I’m just really excited wherever I end up,” Plum said.
While Plum may be the favorite No. 1 pick, there is a lot of intrigue after that selection about who will go where. It could have been even more interesting had more of the dozen college players eligible declared for the draft.
Only South Carolina’s Allisha Gray and Kaela Davis decided to forego their final year of eligibility. Both are expected to be taken in the first round.
“It’s interesting because if all of the players who could have declared had declared, it would have been considered a much deeper draft, but I’d say it’s a solid draft and definitely deep in the guard position,” ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo said.
Chicago picks second after trading Elena Delle Donne to Washington in the offseason. The Sky also changed their coach and GM, with Amber Stocks taking over both positions. She, too, wouldn’t rule out making a draft-day trade.
“I’ll say it’s wise to always keep your options open, and so as the process draws nearer and nearer to (Thursday) ... just keeping the board open, keeping options open,” Stocks said. “We’re continuing to evaluate players on all different levels, and we’re continuing to evaluate all different types of options, and some of those may include potential trades.”
Dallas has the third and fourth picks as well as No. 10.
“I think we put ourselves in that position that was pretty much set for us before the season started and after last season,” Wings coach Fred Williams said. “How we can position ourselves to get some young talent. Having three picks I think will be beneficial for us here during the upcoming training camp and hopefully for our season.”
The Wings made off-the-court moves this week when general manager Greg Bibb expanded his role to president and CEO of the team after Mary O’Connor stepped down. She resigned after only nine months on the job.
The WNBA moved the draft to New York after a successful stint at Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun the last few years. It will be held at the Samsung event space in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District.
“What we are seeking to do is infuse some fresh energy and enthusiasm around these amazing athletes,” WNBA President Lisa Borders said. “It will be a new environment for us, but the process is the same.”
Borders said there will be former and current players at the draft and that there will be some changes to the format, although she was coy about the exact differences.
“I don’t want to spill all my beans,” she said.
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