It is the season to start recognizing the women who are playing in the WNBA this season. This league will be going into their 22nd season which will start on May 18. The WNBA Draft was held last week Thursday in New York City. The first round was broadcast on television on ESPN. The order of the draft went by the worse record even though there were some trades and a couple of teams like Indiana and Chicago had two picks in the first round. The Las Vegas Aces, who were formerly known as the San Antonio Spurs had the first pick. They selected A'ja Wilson, a national champ from South Carolina Lady Gamecocks. When you look at her size and strength, she was a tough woman to deal with especially in the SEC averaging a double-double. She was the first Lady Gamecocks to be drafted number one and the second woman from the SEC drafted number one since the Los Angeles Sparks drafted Candace Parker from Tennessee Lady Volunteers back in 2008.
The future is bright with the Aces with Wilson and Kelsey Plum, two young women with potential and talent. The Indiana Fever had two picks in the first round. With the second overall pick in the first round, they drafted Kelsey Mitchell, the point guard from "The" Ohio State Buckeyes. She is the second all-time leading scorer in NCAAWBB history behind Kelsey Plum, who was drafted number one overall by the San Antonio Stars (now Las Vegas Aces) in last year's draft. Picking with Kelsey will be Victoria Vivians, drafted number eight out of Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs (who unfortunately lost to Notre Dame Lady Fighting Irish in the NCAAWBB national championship game). The Fever should be alright with the two draft picks that they have.
The Chicago Sky had the third and fourth overall picks. With their third pick, the team drafted Diamond Deshields. Diamond played for both North Carolina Lady Tar Heels and Tennessee Lady Volunteers before going pro to Turkey. Her father played major league baseball for thirteen years for five different teams (Montreal Expos, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, Baltimore Orioles, and Chicago Cubs). His name is Delino "Bop" DeShields Sr. The next pick that the Chicago Sky had, the team selected Gabby Williams from UCONN Lady Huskies. The Sky got two great draft picks who are experienced and know how to win ball games. It will help the dynamic of that team. The Seattle Storm had the fifth pick, and they selected Jordin Canada from UCLA Lady Bruins. This was a good and safe pick for the Seattle Storm. Jordin can learn from veteran Sue Bird on the ins and outs of the game. Also, Bird can groom Canada to be her replacement whenever she decides to retire from the league.
The Dallas Wings had the sixth pick, and the team selected Azura Stevens from UCONN Lady Huskies. Unlike the girls drafted before her in this draft and all of the WNBA draft, she leaves school early with one year of eligibility left. According to rules of the WNBA, you have to be 22 BEFORE the start of the WNBA Draft, and Stevens had turned 22 on February 1. Stevens and Skylar Diggins-Smith are going to have a lot to say to each other this season. Stevens was at UCONN and Diggins-Smith played at Notre Dame (which beat UCONN in the Final Four this year). The Washington Mystics had the seventh pick in the WNBA Draft, and the team selected Ariel Atkins from Texas Lady Longhorns. The Mystics can gradually bring her along on the scheme of things with that team. The Mystics have veterans like Ivory Latta and Monique Curry along with superstar Elena Delle Donne. The Connecticut Sun had the ninth pick, and the team selected Lexie Brown from Duke Lady Blue Devils. Lexie is a good player, and she does have the pedigree to succeed in this league. Her father played 12 years in the NBA (Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, and Orlando Magic) and won the 1991 NBA Slam Dunk Contest with a no-look dunk for the Celtics. His name is Dee Brown, who was also a former WNBA head coach of the Orlando Miracle and San Antonio Silver Stars (now Las Vegas Aces).
The New York Liberty had the tenth pick in the draft, and the team selected Kia Nurse from UCONN Lady Huskies. Not only was Kia Nurse the third Lady Huskies drafted but she will be playing with another former Lady Huskies in Tina Charles. These two ladies definitely can continue to bring the winning spirit to New York. Nurse should be able to handle the New York limelight especially since she played four years under Geno Auriemma. The Los Angeles Sparks had the 11th pick, and they selected Maria Vadeeva from Russia. The Phoenix Mercury had the 12th and final pick in the first round of the WNBA Draft, and the team selected Marie Gulich from Oregon State. Overall in the first round, two players from the SEC were selected (A'ja Wilson and Victoria Vivians), two players from the Pac-12 was selected (Jordin Canada and Marie Gulich), and two players from overseas were selected (Diamond DeShields and Maria Vadeeva). Three UCONN players were selected (Gabby Williams, Azura Stevens, and Kia Nurse). One surprise that will not be left unnoticed is that Leslie Robinson from Princeton Lady Tigers was selected number 34 by the New York Liberty. Leslie Robinson is the niece of former president and first lady Barack and Michelle Obama. Leslie’s father, Craig Robinson, who is Michelle's brother, is Vice President of Player Development and G League Operations for the New York Knicks.