Welcome to the league: WNBA mock draft 2024

The following players are best suited to transition from the NCAA to the pros.

Guards Kaitlyn Davis and McKenzie Forbes transferred to USC last offseason after completing their Ivy League undergraduate careers. (Jordan Renville / Daily Trojan)

For fans of women’s hoops, there’s no such thing as an offseason.

The stage is already set at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where stars of the college game will grace the Orange Carpet at the 2024 WNBA draft on Monday at 7:30 p.m. EST. The selection show, which comes eight days after the NCAA Tournament title game and weeks before the WNBA’s regular season tipoff, serves as a perfect avenue to follow your favorite college players into the next level of their careers.

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Let’s take a look at how this draft could play out.

1. Indiana Fever

Caitlin Clark | 6’0” guard | Iowa
This one is a no-brainer. Clark concluded her Iowa career with two straight NCAA championship appearances, the NCAA Division I all-time scoring record, consecutive Wooden Awards and seemingly every other accolade in college ball. Transitioning to the W presents its challenges, but in Indiana, Clark will have plenty of support. Iowa fans won’t hesitate to make the nearly 500-mile drive from Iowa City to Indianapolis to cheer her on. On the court, Clark will have last year’s No. 1 overall pick and Rookie of the Year center Aliyah Boston as her teammate.

2. Los Angeles Sparks

Kamilla Cardoso | 6’7” center | South Carolina

This pick feels kind of edgy, as most draft boards have Stanford forward Cameron Brink going second. Cardoso didn’t start a single game in her first two years at South Carolina, but during this year’s undefeated season, Cardoso became a rock for the Cocks. She hit game-winning triples and averaged 9.7 rebounds per game; on defense, she was like a ceiling joisted a yard below the rim.

3. Chicago Sky (from Phoenix)

Rickea Jackson | 6’2” forward | Tennessee

It’s no secret the Sky are in the middle of a rebuild. As Chicago overhauls its roster, it will need a two-way player who can keep the scoreboard afloat. In her fifth year at the collegiate level, Jackson averaged 20.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. She also improved her efficiency from beyond the arc, knocking down almost 10% more of her 3-point attempts than from two years ago.

4. Los Angeles Sparks (from Seattle)

Cameron Brink | 6’4” forward | Stanford

If Brink sees this mock, she might mumble her infamous “f— you,” but at the end of the day, she’s still projected to go to the Sparks. This season, the Pac-12 Player of the Year led the NCAA’s Division I with 3.74 blocks per game and recorded 20 double-doubles. Foul trouble is the only knock to Brink’s game as she can shoot from anywhere and guard anyone.

5. Dallas Wings (from Chicago)

Aaliyah Edwards | 6’3” forward | UConn

After competing in three Final Fours during her four seasons at UConn, Edwards has the opportunity to join another title contender — the Wings, who finished second in the West last season. Edwards, like her Husky foremothers, possesses a high basketball IQ and competitiveness that will immediately elevate any professional roster.

6. Washington Mystics

Jacy Sheldon | 5’10” guard | Ohio State

With two-time MVP and forward Elena Delle Donne stepping away from basketball and guard Natasha Cloud, an All-Defensive team member and WNBA assists leader in 2022, signing with the Phoenix Mercury, the Mystics are searching for a leader to front their rebuild. In Sheldon’s senior season, she guided the Buckeyes to their first Elite Eight in 30 years. She is a high-energy defender who can also put points on the board; she averaged 17.8 points per game this season.

7. Minnesota Lynx

Angel Reese | 6’3” forward | LSU

In any other year, Reese would likely be a lottery pick, but the talent in this draft does not diminish her game. Reese led all Division I players in offensive rebounds and ranked second in overall rebounds this season. In joining the Lynx, Reese could solve their possession struggles. Moreover, her national profile has the potential to rejuvenate Minnesota’s fan base.

8. Chicago Sky (from Atlanta via L.A.)

Nyadiew Puoch | 6’3” forward | Southside Flyers (Australia)

As mentioned earlier, the Sky want pro-ready talents who can excel in all regions of the floor. Although Puoch is only 19 years old, she has already competed against WNBA players overseas in the Australian-based Women’s National Basketball League and can come into the W ready to put on a show.

9. Dallas Wings

Isobel Borlase | 5’11” guard | Adelaide Lightning (Australia)

Unlike Chicago, the Wings’ roster is stuffed, suggesting they will opt for a “draft and stash” player. Dallas has plenty of returning bigs — Natasha Howard, Teaira McCowan, Kalani Brown — so a guard like Borlase, who can continue to play overseas while the roster opens up, could balance the team in the future.

10. Connecticut Sun

Alissa Pili | 6’2” forward | Utah

While Pili needs to improve defensively, she is an elite scorer. USC women’s basketball fans know this well as she dropped 60 total points on the Trojans this season. She earned Pac-12 Player of the Year in 2023 and is undoubtedly one of the most talented players in this draft.

11. New York Liberty

Nika Mühl | 5’11” guard | UConn

After a massive free agency haul in 2023, the Liberty have been dubbed a “super team.” With that in mind, New York doesn’t have too many holes to fill but to keep up with Las Vegas — the defending champions — the Liberty will need to level up their defense. 

In the NCAA Tournament, Mühl proved she could excel in any defensive assignment when she limited the production of the nation’s top scorers in USC freshman guard JuJu Watkins, Syracuse guard Dyaisha Fair and Clark.

12. Atlanta Dream (from Las Vegas via L.A.)

Dyaisha Fair | 5’5” guard | Syracuse

The Dream are desperate for some sharp shooting off the bench, and Fair — the third all-time Division I leading scorer — can fill that role. Fair may have a shorter stature but being 5 feet, 5 inches tall didn’t stop Dallas guard Crystal Dangerfield from earning Rookie of the Year in 2020 or Leilani Mitchell from playing 14 professional seasons.

As tempting as it is to go beyond the first round and list 24 more projections, it is simply not cute in print, so here are some words.

Two Trojans from this season’s Elite Eight run have declared for the draft in guard McKenzie Forbes and forward Kaitlyn Davis. Throughout the Pac-12 and NCAA Tournaments, Forbes averaged 19.0 points per game while shooting 42.4% from beyond the arc, and she earned Pac-12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player. Forbes has all of the ingredients, on and off the court, to succeed in the pros, and she is projected to be selected late in the second round or early in the third.

Davis is unlikely to hear her name called Monday evening, however, that should not squash her hopes of playing in the league. Making a WNBA roster straight out of college is notoriously difficult whether a player is drafted or not; last year, a mere 15 of 36 selections made an opening day roster. Davis will need time to prove herself, but her game and demeanor fits well into the culture of the WNBA.

In addition to this pair of Trojans, there are a few other notable Pac-12 talents on the draft board. UCLA guard Charisma Osborne is a late first-rounder on most mocks, but her underwhelming performance in the NCAA Tournament has her slipping to the second round where her defensive acumen and athleticism could be an asset to the Aces or the Storm. Stanford guard Hannah Jump accounted for over 30% of the Cardinal’s triples this season. She would make a great third round pick for Atlanta or L.A. — two teams that lack bench shooters. Colorado also boasts two players — forward Quay Miller and guard Jaylyn Sherrod — who are potential late third-round selections.

Outside of its own conference, USC faced a number of other prospective WNBA players. Kansas center Taiyanna Jackson posted a double-double against USC during the round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament, solidifying herself as a second round talent. Although she played less than 20 minutes for Baylor in the Trojans’ Sweet 16 matchup with the Bears, guard Aijha Blackwell could sneak into the third round. Blackwell averaged a double-double in her sophomore and junior seasons before an injury limited her minutes as a senior.

Now, if you’re struggling to identify a late round steal, look no further. Columbia guard and Ivy League Player of the Year Abbey Hsu — who was Davis’ teammate for three years — is the all-time Ivy League 3-point leader and an All-American honorable mention. Expect Hsu to be selected by the Storm or the Liberty. Last, Virginia Tech center Elizabeth Kitley may be the ultimate stash and draft player. She tore her ACL before the Hokies’ short-lived 2024 March Madness run, but in the season prior, Kitley led Virginia Tech to its first Final Four in program history.

The next wave of WNBA talent will be broadcast live Monday afternoon on ESPN. Be sure to circle back, to see how well these projections held.

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