McKenzie Forbes, Kaitlyn Davis selected in 2024 WNBA draft

Both Trojans were picked in the third round following the team’s Elite Eight season.

Graduate guard McKenzie Forbes became the 15th Trojan to make it to the WNBA through the draft. USC now has draft picks in back-to-back years for the first time since the first two WNBA drafts in 1997 and 1998. (Jordan Renville / Daily Trojan)

Caitlin Clark, Cameron Brink, Kamilla Cardoso and a handful of other highly touted prospects headlined the 2024 WNBA draft, but toward the end of the evening, two former USC graduate transfers had their names called at the podium: guard McKenzie Forbes at No. 28 overall and forward Kaitlyn Davis at No. 35.

Forbes is coming off the best scoring season of her career, and Davis enters the WNBA following a year when she made more than 50% of her field goal attempts. Both players contributed tremendously to the Trojans’ run to the Elite Eight in just their first seasons with the team, as both joined USC following stints in the Ivy League.

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Considering the small draft class, the WNBA is an extremely difficult league to get drafted into. Even if a player is fortunate enough to be one of the 36 selected, making the roster is no guarantee. There are 144 total roster spots, as each of the 12 teams owns 12. Because of the limited room, only 15 of the picks in last year’s draft class — or 42% — made opening-day rosters.

Forbes trots down Figueroa to join Sparks

The Los Angeles Sparks kept Forbes close to home by selecting her in the third round with the No. 28 overall pick. The 6-foot guard joins the Sparks following her fourth collegiate season, where she registered 14.3 points per game and was the second-leading scorer for USC, a team that reached heights it hadn’t seen in 30 years.

L.A. made significant noise in the first round by selecting Stanford senior forward Cameron Brink and Tennessee fifth-year forward Rickea Jackson but didn’t pick again until the third round. Along with the other rookies, Forbes joins a Sparks team that just narrowly missed the 2023 playoffs at ninth place in the league with a 17-23 record, which was their fourth consecutive non-postseason year. 

At USC, Forbes showed her ability to get hot and exert her intensity into her game; she especially found her stride in the Pac-12 Tournament and erupted against UCLA and Stanford to help lead the Trojans to a No. 1 seed berth in the NCAA Tournament. Forbes tallied at least 20 points in all but one March Madness game and had two games with at least five 3-point makes.

If Forbes can make the roster, she’ll join four other former Pac-12 players on the Sparks. While history hasn’t favored later picks, Forbes will aim to help revive a once-championship-worthy team just down the road from where she finished her college career.

Davis joins the 2023 championship runner-up in New York

Davis still remained on the board at No. 35 overall, and the 32-win New York Liberty took a chance on her with the second-to-last selection. Like Forbes, Davis only played one season with the Trojans but was a major catalyst during the team’s run.

The 6-foot-2 forward wasn’t originally an everyday starter for USC, but she eventually became a reliable inside scorer for Head Coach Lindsay Gottlieb’s bunch thanks to multiple efficient performances. The Liberty are no strangers to Gottlieb’s program, as they selected former Trojan guard Okako Adika in the 2023 draft, who was also a third-round pick. 

If Davis can snag a roster spot, she’ll also join a team with an abundance of former Pac-12 players that finished second in the WNBA in 2023 with a stellar 32-8 record. This past season, New York lost in the WNBA Finals — its fifth trip in franchise history — and will look for depth to accompany superstar forward Breanna Stewart and 3-point machine, guard Sabrina Ionescu.

Davis’ 54.4% shooting figures are what made her stand out to draft scouts. Davis was also a regular on the glass, as she grabbed 5.8 rebounds per game this past season. A native of the East Coast, Davis will return to where she spent her undergraduate career at Columbia University to fight for a spot on one of the WNBA’s premier teams.

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