A look at the top WNBA prospects in the NCAA Tournament’s Notre Dame region.
All four Sweet 16 games in the Notre Dame region will feature players who might be on WNBA draft radars, with Notre Dame’s Kayla McBride and Baylor’s Odyssey Sims headlining the bunch.
But both Kentucky and Oklahoma State have players with pro potential that might be worth keeping an eye on – while we’ve already discussed the latter, the former is one we’ll get to in brief today.
Prospects we’ve already discussed:
#2 Baylor Lady Bears
#5 Oklahoma State Cowgirls
Ok, actually we have discussed Spanou in passing a couple of times, but I need to take a moment to revisit her here: due to a spreadsheet error (literally a one-instance formula error) the numbers I posted for her previously were incorrect. The correct numbers are as follows:
Those are still extremely impressive numbers and if you watched the NEC championship game, you see that the rebounding is not a mirage: she’s just one of those players with an outstanding knack for tracking the ball when it comes off the rim. And although WBB State lists her at 6-foot-0, she she is listed at 6-foot-2 elsewhere and is actually probably somewhere in between. She’ll be worth someone’s time to bring into camp as a skilled forward with three point range and great ball skills, but making a roster might be a little bit tough at her size.
Players we haven’t yet discussed
Being tall on a tournament team will always get you a look in the WNBA; fouling out in nine minutes against Notre Dame and collective nine fouls in 19 minutes over two games probably doesn’t do you any favors.
That unfortunate pair of performances reflects what might be Burke’s biggest weakness statistically: her extremely low personal foul efficiency (steals + blocks / personal fouls) of 0.25 – I can’t find an instance of a center with a PF efficiency that low who made a roster in their draft year. That plus her extremely high turnover rate of 21.86% make her something of a long-shot to make a roster.
But the reason I mention Burke at all is that she was actually a pretty solid offensive rebounder – just under 15% entering the tournament – which means she has more going for her than a few other centers who have been drafted recently, even if making a roster might be a challenge.
Moses is a scorer who shoots 45% from three point range, which will get her noticed. The problem for her as a WNBA prospect is not only that she’s just 5-foot-6 but that she finished her season shooting just over 50% of her shots from beyond the arc – players who create that many of their shots from beyond the arc don’t typically fare well in the league. And her -3.08 pure point rating at an average usage rate of 20% doesn’t make her a particularly strong candidate statistically to play point guard in the pros.
But it certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see her end up in training camp and get a look with shooting touch like that.
I did in fact mention Stallworth briefly earlier this season but as long as I’m looking at Kentucky’s stats she’s worthy of mention again – if there’s a player in this draft that I might be under-rating in this draft, it might be Stallworth.
Stallworth’s stats essentially put her right on the edge of being a pretty solid WNBA prospect: she’s not an extremely efficient scorer, but not so inefficient that she’s an non-prospect and her three point range might help her; she’s not an outstanding rebounder (9% offensive rebounding percentage), but not so poor that it can be considered a weakness; she’s not a great free throw shooter, but gets to the free throw line often enough that it shows an ability to play strong around the basket (in one of the best defensive conferences in the nation).
The major weakness is his her rather low pure point rating (-6.29), but even that moreso reflects the fact that she picks up assists so infrequently rather than a major turnover problem. What will be most interesting is to see who shows interest in her on draft day and how they work with her to refine her game for WNBA competition.
Walker’s strength, and the thing that will very likely keep her in the draft discussion, is that she’s very good offensive rebounder (11.27%) and likely has the athleticism to compete with the world’s best. Unfortunately, that’s just the only strength statistically.
At 6-foot-1, her scoring efficiency is a bit low (52.32% TS%) to be considered a strong prospect; a low free throw rate (28.79%) along with a low usage rate (16.64%) for someone as athletic as she is just makes it even harder to project what role she might fill at the next level. All of that makes her one three point attempt in her career more glaring – perimeter shooting touch would really help her cause.
Both Stallworth and Walker could play significant roles in Kentucky’s matchup with Baylor as their rebounding will be key against a Baylor team that has the 9th best rebounding percentage in the nation and had a large offensive rebounding percentage differential over opponents entering the tournament (13%). And despite the attention to Odyssey Sims’ 47-point performance in their first quadruple overtime meeting back in December, Baylor beat Kentucky on the offensive boards by a significant 28-19 margin – turning that around would go a long way to ensuring that Kentucky can win a second time.
For more on these and other WNBA prospects, check out our 2014 WNBA Draft prospect watch storystream.