The 2017 WNBA draft, which has been called one of the most talented in league history, is officially in the books. While the event took place in New York City, it was a quiet night for the New York Liberty. Instead, the San Antonio Stars, the Chicago Sky, and the Dallas Wings made the most noise on Thursday, especially in the first round.
This year's Naismith Trophy winner and the NCAA's all-time leading scorer, Kelsey Plum, can add "No. 1 overall pick" to her resume as she heads south to join the San Antonio Stars. Unless you've been living under a rock for the past couple of years, this wasn't a big surprise. Plum scored a total of 3,527 points in her career at the University of Washington and broke the NCAA single-season scoring record with 1,109 points this year. For a Stars team that won only seven games last season and finished dead last in scoring, she's expected to go in and make an immediate impact.
"I'm extremely grateful. The Pac-12 has been so good to me," Plum said. "So, thank you, Pac- 12. The University of Washington has prepared me for this moment. I'm excited."
Moving upstate to Dallas, the Wings dominated the first round with three picks in the top ten, two of which were used to grab a couple of NCAA champions. Last year, the dominance of the UConn women showed up on the draft board as they accounted for the first three picks in the 2016 draft. This year, fittingly, was all about the South Carolina Gamecocks. For the first time ever, the program had three players drafted in the first round. Alisha Gray and Kaela Davis were the No. 4 and No 10 picks, respectively, and will now play professionally in the same city they won the NCAA title earlier this month.
"It's amazing. I don't know many people that get to have this opportunity and share it with their teammates," Davis said. "For us, it means a lot. It means a lot to Coach [Dawn] Staley. We just hope that we can not only represent South Carolina well, but also women's basketball as a whole."
Rounding out the trio was Alaina Coates, who despite missing the national championship due to an ankle injury was selected No. 2 overall by the Chicago Sky (a pick acquired from the Washington Mystics in the Elena Delle Donne trade).
One of the bigger sleepers in the first round, Nia Coffey, became Northwestern University's first-ever first-round draft pick when the Stars selected her fifth overall. The six-foot-one forward left her mark in Evanston, Illinois, as the all-time leader in rebounds (1,183), second in career points (2,287), and the first player to earn Big Ten honors all four years. She was the fifth player in Big Ten history to finish with 2,000 career points and 1,000 rebounds. The pairing of Plum and Coffey together in San Antonio will be something to keep an eye on this WNBA season.
"Clearly, Kelsey can score so that's awesome," Coffey said. "I feel like I can play both inside and outside. Whatever coach needs me to do, I can do. I'm excited to get there."
Elsewhere around the league, the Mystics provided extra scoring to their roster by taking Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, who averaged 18.8 points per game at Maryland, at No. 6. The defending champion Los Angeles Sparks clearly aim to keep their top spot in three-point shooting with their selection of Oregon State's Sydney Wiese, the Pac-12 career record-holder for three-pointers. L.A. may have trouble holding on to that particular crown, though, because this draft was filled with assassin scorers who will now be making their marks around the league.
And now with the season a month away, all we have to do is wait to see what this rookie class will bring to the 21st season of the WNBA.If you hadn't been paying attention to the league before, now's a pretty good time to start.
Here are all 36 picks made over three rounds:
- Kelsey Plum (Washington) – San Antonio Stars
- Alaina Coates (South Carolina) – Chicago Sky
- Evelyn Akhator (Kentucky) – Dallas Wings
- Allisha Gray (South Carolina) – Dallas Wings
- Nia Coffey (Northwestern) – San Antonio Stars
- Shatori Walter-Kimbrough (Maryland) – Washington Mystics
- Brittney Sykes (Syracuse) – Atlanta Dream
- Brionna Jones (Maryland) – Connecticut Sun
- Tori Jankoska (Michigan State) – Chicago Sky
- Kaela Davis (South Carolina) – Dallas Wings
- Sydney Wiese (Oregon State) – Los Angeles Sparks
- Alexis Jones (Baylor) – Minnesota Lynx
- Shayla Cooper (Ohio State) – Connecticut Sun
- Lindsay Allen (Notre Dame) – New York Liberty
- Alexis Peterson (Syracuse) – Seattle Storm
- Leticia Romero (Florida State) – Connecticut Sun
- Erica McCall (Stanford) – Indiana Fever
- Jennie Simms (Old Dominion) – Washington Mystics
- Jordan Reynolds (Tennessee) – Atlanta Dream
- Feyona Fitzgerald (Temple) – Indiana Fever
- Chantel Osahor (Washington) – Chicago Sky
- Ronni Williams (Florida) – Indiana Fever
- Breanna Lewis (Kansas State) – Dallas Wings
- Lisa Berkani (France) – Minnesota Lynx
- Schaquilla Nunn (Tennessee) – San Antonio Stars
- Saniya Chong (Connecticut) – Dallas Wings
- Mehryn Kraker (Wisconsin-GB) – Washington Mystics
- Jessica January (DePaul) – Connecticut Sun
- Alexis Prince (Baylor) – Phoenix Mercury
- Lanay Montgomery (West Virginia) – Seattle Storm
- Oderah Chidom (Duke) – Atlanta Dream
- Adrienne Motley (Miami-FLA) – Indiana Fever
- Makayla Epps (Kentucky) – Chicago Sky
- Kai James (Florida State) – New York Liberty
- Saicha Grant-Allen (Dayton) – Los Angeles Sparks
- Tahlia Tupaea (Australia) – Minnesota Lynx