The WNBA draft is just around the corner — April 15 in New York — and we now have the answers on which key players will be available. This senior class in women’s college basketball is the last to have the option of returning for a fifth year in college via the NCAA’s COVID-19 waiver from the 2020-21 season.

Most of the players we have been projecting for the first round of the 2024 draft are opting to go pro, including the lock-solid No. 1 pick, guard Caitlin Clark of Iowa, who announced her decision Feb. 29. This week, South Carolina center Kamilla Cardoso and LSU forward Angel Reese also declared they are headed to the draft.

One exception: Guard Georgia Amoore, a projected first-round pick who was at Virginia Tech but is now in the transfer portal for what will be her fifth collegiate season.

But there are also several fifth-year seniors who have exhausted their eligibility and now hope to continue their careers in the WNBA. The league remains at 12 teams; the Bay Area franchise begins play in 2025. Making a WNBA roster is a big challenge: The maximum roster size is 12, but many teams carry just 11 players for salary cap reasons, so there are typically fewer than 144 roster spots.

So there is no guarantee even first-round picks will make a roster in 2024. That said, as is typically the case for the WNBA draft, the first five picks seem relatively solid, although the order after No. 1 could go different ways.

Iowa | PG | 6-foot-0 | senior

The Fever have been through tough times the past several years but now have one of the most coveted draft picks in WNBA history. Clark is finishing her Iowa career in the Final Four and will bring a lot of attention to Indiana. It’s not just that she is the best player in the draft, she’s also the best at the position — point guard — that will most help the Fever. Clark will join young post players Aliyah Boston (No. 1 in 2023) and NaLyssa Smith (No. 2 in 2022) in Indiana. It’s going to be fun again to be a Fever fan.

Stanford | PF | 6-foot-4 | senior

The Sparks will get two very good players because they traded to also have the No. 4 pick. But which two? Brink seems the likely selection here, although it also could be either of the players we have at Nos. 3 and 4. Brink is versatile offensively and tough-nosed defensively, leading Division I in blocked shots per game (3.74). Did she ever quite get the hang of playing in foul trouble? Not as much as Stanford would have liked; it remained a problem throughout her college career. However, Brink will get six fouls in the WNBA, which should help.

Tennessee | SF | 6-foot-2 | senior

It’s not out of the question Jackson could go at No. 2. But if she goes third, she could be an important piece of the Sky’s rebuilding process. New coach Teresa Weatherspoon has a lot of work ahead in trying to reestablish Chicago as a competitive team. Jackson, who spent her last two collegiate seasons as Tennessee’s top player, should expand her game even more as a scorer in the WNBA. Long, quick and strong wing-type players who can guard multiple positions are very valuable in the league, and Jackson can fill that role.

South Carolina | C | 6-foot-7 | senior

There just aren’t that many players in women’s basketball with the size, strength and agility of the 6-7 Cardoso. Which is why she also could go second or third. South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said during the Albany 1 Regional she hopes to see what she calls “Killa Kamilla” at the Final Four: Cardoso focused and decisive, making the most of her physical advantages. The Sparks could see Cardoso and Brink as a strong 1-2 punch inside.

UConn | PF | 6-foot-3 | senior

The Wings probably could use another 3-point shooter, but if Edwards is still available, it’s hard to imagine they would pass by her. Edwards, who helped UConn make it back to the Final Four, is fundamentally sound — a UConn player trait — and seems physically well suited for the pro game.

Ohio State | SG | 5-foot-10 | senior

In her fifth college season, Sheldon led Ohio State to the Big Ten regular-season championship. The postseason was a disappointment for the Buckeyes, who were knocked out of the NCAA tournament in the second round, but now Sheldon will move on. She projects as one of the top defensive guards in the draft. This is a rebuilding period for the Mystics, so strong leadership qualities, which Sheldon has, are sought by Washington.

LSU | PF | 6-foot-3 | senior

With the personnel they already have, the Lynx seem likely to look for the best player available with this pick. The big question: Will they think that player is Reese? Rebounding is her top strength; she’s exceptional there. The concern is whether her offensive skills can grow to the point where opposing teams think they have to guard closely even when she is not in the paint. If the Lynx believe they can help her expand her game with the talent she has, they might go with Reese.

8. Chicago Sky: Isobel Borlase

Australia | PG | 5-foot-11

She is just 19, so she has a lot of time to grow her game. But Borlase has already played professionally in her home country — she was with the Adelaide Lightning in the WNBL this season — and comes from a very athletic family background. Borlase has good size and skills, and a competitive personality. She could learn a lot working with a former point guard the caliber of Weatherspoon in Chicago.

Utah | SF | 6-foot-2 | senior

Pili has shown dazzling offensive skill in college, but it is uncertain how that will translate in the pro game. Her 3-point shooting ability — making 57 this season and 121 in her college career — could help Dallas. But will she be good enough on offense to get court time to improve defensively? Wings coach Latricia Trammell is known for developing players and teaching defense. So it depends on whether the Wings see a place for Pili and believe she can really get better.

Syracuse | PG | 5-foot-5 | senior

The Sun would love a player like Ohio State’s Sheldon, but she’s not expected to still be available. So they might instead go with Fair, who finished her five-season college career with 3,403 points (22.2 points per game). She is very quick, determined and used to being underestimated because of her small stature. But someone who has put the ball in the basket this much could be worth a look for the Sun.

UCLA | SG | 5-foot-9 | senior

Osborne is another fifth-year player, and she might be able to contribute on the defensive end, which is what the Liberty need. That was evident in how difficult it was for New York to slow down Las Vegas’ guards in the WNBA Finals last year. Osborne finished her career averaging 14.9 points and 3.1 assists, but New York wouldn’t necessarily require a lot of offense from her.

Australia | PF | 6-foot-3

The Dream could be looking to invest in a young player with a potentially high ceiling, such as the 19-year-old Puoch. She plays for the Southside Flyers, who won the WNBL championship this season, in her native Australia. She might not be ready for the WNBA this year, but perhaps this will be a “draft-and-stash” situation in which she joins Atlanta in 2025.



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