On Monday night, the 2014 WNBA Draft kicks off on ESPN2 with three-rounds of selections as the latest group of talent learns where they will be taking their talents as they transition to the professional level.
This year’s draft takes place at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, which is the same arena that the Connecticut Sun, who own the No. 1 overall pick, calls home.
A number of players were able to catch the attention of teams around the WNBA with standout performances in the NCAA women’s tournament, along with the high level of play that they have shown throughout their collegiate careers.
It will be interesting to see what direction the Sun go with the first pick to influence the remainder of the draft, but there is a favorite to earn the honors.
Jim Reilly of the official WNBA website released their mock draft for tonight’s action, and it certainly looks like there will be some interesting moves throughout the night. Below are the top five picks of the WNBA Mock Draft, but you can view all of the projections by clicking here.
1. Connecticut Sun — Chiney Ogwumike, forward, Stanford
Prior to the 2013-14 collegiate season, Chiney Ogwumike was often referred to as “Nneka’s younger sister,” which was at least partially understandable due to the fact that Nneka was the No. 1 pick in the 2012 WNBA Draft, was named Rookie of the Year as a member of the Los Angeles Sparks and subsequently made the 2013 WNBA All-Star Game. Chiney’s exploits for Stanford this past season have put all that “little sister” talk to bed, however, as she led Stanford to a sterling 33-4 record and a Final Four berth, where the Cardinal succumbed to eventual national champion UConn. Chiney’s high-energy, high-efficiency game — in addition to her winning personality — should be a perfect fit for the rebuilding Connecticut Sun, who will shock the basketball world if they pass on Ogwumike.
2. Tulsa Shock — Odyssey Sims, guard, Baylor
Sims is another player who initially burst onto the national scene as a complimentary player, as the Robin to Brittney Griner’s Batman during Baylor’s legendary undefeated 40-0 championship season in 2012. Sims has subsequently shown she is nobody’s sidekick, winning the prestigious 2014 Wade Trophy as the nation’s top player after averaging over 28 points per game and dishing out over 170 assists in 37 games as the primary offensive weapon for the Lady Bears. The Shock already boast a pretty strong back court in Riquna Williams and last year’s No. 3 pick Skylar Diggins, but if the old “we’re-going-to-take-the-best-player-available” philosophy ever applies, this is it.
3. San Antonio Stars — Alyssa Thomas, forward, Maryland
With Ogwumike and Sims off the board, things open up here and there has been some buzz about teams attempting to trade up to the No. 3. San Antonio holds the coveted spot and after an injury-ravaged 2013 season which saw stars (pun-not-intended) Becky Hammon and Sophia Young-Malcolm (recent name change due to marriage) stuck on the sidelines, look for the Stars to resist all other suitors and grab Alyssa Thomas, the three-time ACC Player of the Year and All-American out of Maryland. Thomas, who describes herself as “hard working, competitive and humble” is 6-2 forward with guard skills and a willingness to bang in the paint and grab rebounds (over 1,235 during her Terrapin career) .
4. New York Liberty — Kayla McBride, guard, Notre Dame
Liberty GM/Head Coach Bill Laimbeer is notoriously competitive and often cagey with regards to his plans. That said, when Essence Carson went down with an injury last season, New York was exposed. “We need depth on the perimeter, we need guard depth, that much is obvious,” said Laimbeer. “We struggled to score the ball last year and our turnovers were way too high. We need to improve on that.” Need identfied. Enter Notre Dame guard Kayla McBride. The Erie, PA native competed in four straight Final Fours with the Fighting Irish and is a savvy playmaker who impressed as a member of the 2014-16 USA Basketball National Team Player Pool, a good indication of McBride’s potential to make the leap from college to the pros.
5. Indiana Fever — Stefanie Dolson, center, Connecticut
Indiana, on the other hand, experienced a lack of depth in the post during an injury-filled 2014 campaign, which sets them up perfectly with newly-minted undefeated national champion Stefanie Dolson of UConn. The 6-5 center out of Storrs sports a gaudy .588 shooting percentage, good hands and nifty passing ability in addition to a winning pedigree. An ex-teammate of Maya Moore and Tiffany Hayes, Dolson may be the next top UConn performer to make it big in the W.
How can you tune in to tonight’s draft and see who will be the future stars of the WNBA? Here is all of the information you will need to tune into the draft live:
Date: Monday, April 14
Start Time: 8 p.m. ET
Location: Uncasville, Connecticut
Venue: Mohegan Sun
TV Info: ESPN 2
Live Stream: WatchESPN app and ESPN3.com
FanSided.com will provide you coverage throughout tonight’s draft as we keep you updated with the top picks.