College basketball is once again underway. For WNBA fans, it marks the beginning of another winter full of speculation and evaluation. Here are just a handful of draft-eligible prospects we’ll be watching this 2020-21 NCAA season.
The 2020-21 NCAA women’s basketball season is upon us, and you know what that means: WNBA fans and analysts will fire up the draft boards and start taking notes on prospects.
Last season, we took deep dives into several players’ draft résumés with a weekly draft prospect breakdown. Though the 2020-21 NCAA season will look considerably different due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we’ll still have you covered with statistical profiles on all of the top WNBA prospects.
Players looking to hold steady
For a handful of eligible players, an early selection in the 2021 WNBA Draft is more or less a foregone conclusion. They’re among the best collegiate players in the country and, if the WNBA Draft was held today, they’d surely be among the first players selected to go pro.
Take Arizona’s Aari McDonald, for instance. The dynamic playmaker and reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year had the option to enter the WNBA after the 2019-20 NCAA season but chose to stay in school for her senior campaign. One would surmise that this decision will only benefit her moving forward, as carrying the Bearcats offense for yet another season would boost her stock even more.
You also have players like UCLA’s Michaela Onyenwere and Tennessee’s Rennia Davis, whose natural gifts have long since made their professional aspirations more a question of “when” than “if.” Such players are on the short list in regards to draft consideration.
Players shortlisted for early draft consideration
Aari McDonald (Arizona)
Michaela Onyenwere (UCLA)
Rennia Davis (Tennessee)
Arella Guirantes (Rutgers)
Dana Evans (Louisville)
Players who could use increased attention
For the vast majority of WNBA Draft prospects, though, much is still in the air. If the draft was held today, most of the players on the following list likely would be chosen. However, it would be much more difficult to project exactly where they’d go.
Oklahoma State’s Natasha Mack and Northwestern’s Lindsey Pulliam, for example, broke out last season but may have to play at that level once again to secure favorable draft position. The same could be said for the handful of transfers who will be draft-eligible. Texas Tech’s Vivian Gray, UConn’s Evina Westbrook and Arkansas’ Destiny Slocum are just a few players who will have to prove themselves in new environments.
Then there are mid-major players who face the ever-present issue of limited visibility — and lack of respect. Central Michigan’s Micaela Kelly and Marquette’s Selena Lott are unquestionably the stars of their respective programs. Can they force themselves onto the right people’s radars?
This list is much longer than the previous one, and expect more names to appear as draft-eligible players play themselves into draft consideration later in the season. For now, though, here are some up-and-coming prospects to keep an eye on:
Up-and-comers who could wreck the boards
Natasha Mack (Oklahoma State)
Evina Westbrook (UConn)
Charli Collier (Texas)
Chelsea Dungee (Arkansas)
Vivian Gray (Texas Tech)
Lindsey Pulliam (Northwestern)
Lauren Heard (Texas Christian)
Micaela Kelly (Central Michigan)
Kiana Williams (Stanford)
Kiara Lewis (Syracuse)
Ali Patberg (Indiana)
Selena Lott (Marquette)
Tiana Mangakahia (Syracuse)
Destiny Slocum (Arkansas)
DiDi Richards (Baylor)
Janelle Bailey (North Carolina)
Kysre Gondrezick (West Virginia)