Earlier during the offseason, we penned a piece focusing on the Minnesota Lynx and why we believed that looking ahead to the 2024 WNBA Draft may actually be in Cheryl Reeve, Clare Duwelius’, Alex Rodriguez’s and Marc Lore’s best long-term interest.
Our case was looking particularly at two high-profile college prospects that will be eligible for that year’s draft in Paige Bueckers and Caitlin Clark. Bueckers is, of course, from Minnesota and will be looking to bounce back from this season where she was unable to play alongside UConn due to injury.
Clark is being touted as a generational talent in large part because of her 3-point shooting accuracy. She has been shouted out by both WNBA and NBA players and has Iowa in prime position to make plenty of noise when we get to this year’s rendition of March Madness.
We underestimated simply how stacked that year’s draft class was.
When the 2023 WNBA season finishes, there will be teams that will be in prime position to land the No. 1 overall selection. Typically, winning a draft lottery and landing said No. 1 overall pick, like the Indiana Fever did for this year’s draft, is a consolation prize for having a less-than-memorable season. That is something the Fever know too much about these days since being in a perpetual state of rebuild since Tamika Catchings retired (in 2016) and Pokey Chatman was unceremoniously fired (after 2018).
This year’s draft, of course, has South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston, a generational talent in her own right, at the top of the draft board and likely going first overall to the Fever. It also includes Stanford’s Haley Jones, whose is projected to be a No. 3 overall selection to the Dallas Wings according to Lines.com’s latest mock draft. Maryland’s Diamond Miller is said to go second to the Minnesota Lynx and Rickea Jackson of Tennessee’s is projected to go fourth to the Washington Mystics to round out the lottery.
This draft could see three Gamecocks get drafted as Zia Cooke and Laeticia Amihere are also projected to be selected per Lines.com’s latest mock.
But what about that 2024 draft? Has anyone watched what Angel Reese is doing at LSU recently? Let us put aside that she is playing for the Darth Vader of women’s college basketball coaches in Kim Mulkey aside and simply marvel at what Reese is doing with the Tigers.
Maryland … what did you do to let her go down south to the Bayou? The Terps’ loss turned out to be the Tigers’ gain and Baltimore’s very own Reese is showcasing exactly why the Baltimore-Washington area is one of the most talent-rich regions in the country for hoopers – women’s or men’s.
As of this writing, Reese is averaging 23.7 points per game in addition to 15.5 rebounds – a double-double for scores and boards. She has LSU in prime position to give the Gamecocks a run for their money for the SEC championship.
February 12 will go a long way in deciding that – when South Carolina and LSU face off in front of what will be a sold out crowd at Colonial Life Arena.
Aneela Khan has a mock on her Women’s Basketball Blog page that now has Reese going to the lottery as a third overall selection. But Reese, Bueckers and Clark are far from the only talents that would be potential No. 1 overall selections in weaker drafts.
There is a Cameron Brink at Stanford (averaging 14.3 points and 9.7 rebounds per game).
There is Hailey Van Lith at Louisville who is shooting 42 percent from the field along with averaging 20.5 points per game.
There is Aaliyah Edwards (also from UConn) who boasts a field goal percentage of 77.4 percent and is averaging 16.9 points per game.
There is Deja Kelly of North Carolina who is averaging 16.2 points per contest at a school that cares deeply about hoops.
And right next door to Kelly and the Tar Heels is Diamond Johnson who is certainly a favorite of Ari Chambers these days. The NC State star (and Rutgers transfer) is averaging 12.8 points per game and has a free throw percentage of 83 percent – third highest on the team.
Remember the (controversial) trade that was recently completed by the Los Angeles Sparks and Las Vegas Aces that sent Dearica Hamby to Tinseltown and Amanda Zahui B. to Sin City? Two draft picks in that 2024 draft were exchanged – including a first round pick. It may be easy for sports fans to immediately shrug whenever draft selections are exchanged as collateral in trades. But the 2024 draft is different.
Our guess is Karen Bryant in Los Angeles and Natalie Williams in Las Vegas are not the only general managers throughout the WNBA that are making deals with the 2024 draft class in mind.
There is a reason why this is already being compared to the 2003 NBA Draft when some dude named Dwyane Wade, some dude named Carmelo Anthony and some dude named … oh, what’s his name…oh yeah, LeBron James headlined that draft class.
Oh, and since it is of course a story whenever any Gamecock gets drafted because of how Dawn Staley has made South Carolina the model program in women’s college basketball – Kamilla Cardoso is currently projected to be a second-round pick in the 2024 draft per Khan’s latest mock.
The 2024 draft looks like one that is filled with potential superstars – plural. Not simply stars – but superstars. Most drafts probably have only one or two that can safely have the tag of superstar attached to them. The 2024 draft looks like one that may have potentially seven or eight that one can call superstars in the WNBA.
It is yet to be determined how the 2024 draft will go as the 2023 season and lottery will, of course, determine the order of said draft. For the 2023 draft, Boston is the obvious one with Jones potentially being another. Jordan Horston’s draft stock is also on the rise as she moved up six spots from Lines’ last mock.
But there will be plenty of teams that will be looking with stars in their eyes at what is shaping up to be an extremely star-studded 2024 draft class.