clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Who are the WNBA Draft prospects in the Women’s Final Four?

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Kansas City Regional-Mississippi State vs UCLA Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA Division I Women’s Final Four starts later tonight. All four number one seeds: UConn, Notre Dame, Mississippi State, and Louisville will play for the 2017-18 national championship in Columbus, Ohio. The championship game will be on Sunday at 6 p.m. ET.

If you went to one of these universities of course, you’re obviously rooting for your alma mater. But for most WNBA fans, they’re probably watching this tournament with an eye on the seniors who figure to make an impact in the 2018 WNBA Draft.

We already gave a general overview on the draft as a whole and what the Mystics may be looking for. But today, we’ll look at the prospects within each of the four schools in the national semifinals and those who may wear Monumental Red this summer.

Louisville vs. Missisippi State

Gametime: Friday, March 30, 7 p.m. ET

TV/Streaming: ESPN2 and WatchESPN. Wizards TV color analyst Kara Lawson will be the color analyst for the Women’s semifinals and championships, so that’s enough reason for us to watch.

Where: Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio

Mississippi State prospects to watch for this year’s draft and next

  • Victoria Vivians, Sr., G - Vivians was named a first team All-American this year. She’s averaging 19.6 points per game and shooting 41 percent from three. Several mock drafts have her going to the Mystics, so keep an eye on her. This isn’t to say that Mike Thibault only wants Vivians — but she is projected to be in the mid first round and could give the Mystics a boost at the wing with Tayler Hill out until June.
  • Morgan William, Sr., G - William is best known as the guard who ended UConn’s 111 game winning streak and four straight national championships last year. This season her season averages have dropped, and I wouldn’t consider her a serious first round draft prospect. But William is averaging 4.6 assists and just over one turnover per game. That’s really, really good in the assist to turnover ratio department.
  • Teaira McCowan, Jr., F/C - McCowan is averaging 18.1 points and 13.6 rebounds a game. McCowan will turn 22 this year so she could declare early (the youngest age a college player can go to the WNBA). But most women’s players don’t since the money isn’t as lucrative — even in Europe. I’ll bet on her not declaring, which should make her a lottery prospect in 2019.

Louisville prospects to watch for this year’s draft and next

  • Myisha Hines-Allen, Sr., F, - Hines-Allen is averaging 14.1 points and 9.7 rebounds for the Cardinals. As a post, she also has a knack for the assist where she’s averaging 2.2 per game. She could be a late first round pick in the projections.
  • Asia Durr, Jr, G - She is the Cardinals’ leading scorer where she is scoring 18.7 points and 2.3 assists per game. Durr is also a strong three point shooter as well. As a junior, she’s not going pro because she won’t turn 22 this year. But Durr is on track to be one of the top prospects in the 2019 Draft.

Other info and links on this matchup

  • Mississippi State is in its second straight Final Four. Louisville made its third Final Four. Neither has a championship.
  • Daniel Connolly of Swish Appeal wrote a nice column on how Mississippi State head coach Vic Schaefer has made the Bulldogs a college powerhouse.
  • Whitney Medworth of SB Nation has this piece on why Durr is someone to see in the Final Four.
  • The Mystics will root for Mississippi State to win it all because of family ties. Carly Thibault-DuDonis is an assistant coach on the team. She was named to the WBCA’s Top Thirty under 30 for being one of the best young coaches. She’s Mike Thibault’s daughter,.

UConn vs. Notre Dame

Gametime: Friday, March 30, about 9:30 p.m. ET (if there is no delay in the Louisville vs. Mississippi State game)

TV/Streaming: ESPN2 and WatchESPN

Where: Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio

UConn prospects to watch for this year’s draft and next

  • Gabby Williams, Sr., F - Williams could be a mid-first round pick or even crack the lottery. She was named a WBCA All-American this year along with Katie Lou Samuelson, who’s a junior. I’d like to see the Mystics pick her up if she drops to 7th, but I think she’s gone before then.
  • Kia Nurse, Sr., G - Nurse was named the WBCA Defensive Player of the Year. She’s also a strong three point shooter from deep so I like her. Nurse could be a mid first round pick, but I wouldn’t pick her because ... she’s not American. Nurse is Canadian, so she’s subject to international team commitments. In fact, she played in the 2014 World Championships and the 2016 Olympics. Regardless, I expect to see Nurse drafted in the first round.
  • Azura Stevens, RS Jr., C - She may play just 20-21 minutes a game, but Stevens is averaging 14.6 points and 7.4 rebounds a game. Since Stevens is four years out of high school (she started her college career at Duke), there is a higher chance of her going pro. Stevens would probably be available to the Mystics if she does go pro, but I’
  • Katie Lou Samuelson, Jr., G/F - Samuelson is leading the Huskies in scoring with 17.5 points per game. She is regarded as UConn’s best player, but since she won’t turn 22 this year, she’s someone to look out for in the 2019 Draft. I’ll go so far to say that she may very well be number one.
  • Napheesa Collier, Jr., F - Collier was the Huskies’ leading scorer two years ago. Her averages dropped a bit this season, but on a team like UConn’s, that’s not a problem. She will turn 22 this year, but Collier isn’t listed on anyone’s draft board, so expect to see her form a scary-good duo with Samuelson next year.

Notre Dame prospects to watch for next year’s draft

The Irish are led mostly by their juniors. Their top senior is Kathryn Westbeld, but she’s not projected to be in the first round. So here are the players who could make an impact in next year’s draft.

  • Arike Ogunbowale, Jr., G - The 5’8 guard is the Irish’s leading scorer (20.7 ppg) and also rebounds 5.4 times a game. She’s the classic definition of a “tweener guard” who is too short to be a “true shooting guard” but doesn’t have the play calling skills of a point guard. If she can develop her point guard skills, that could pay dividends in the 2019 Draft.
  • Marina Mabrey, Jr., G - Mabrey is Notre Dame’s other major perimeter threat along with Ogunbowale. She is averaging 14.8 points and 4.5 assists per game this season for the Irish.
  • Jessica Shepard, Jr., F - The 6’4 post started her college career at Nebraska and started playing this season without a redshirt thanks to a waiver. She’s averaging 15.6 points and 7.4 rebounds a game.

Other info and links on this matchup

  • This is UConn’s 19th Final Four and Notre Dame’s eighth. The Huskies won 11 national championships, the most all time. The Irish won one national championship in 2001.
  • Laura Berestecki of Swish Appeal writes that Notre Dame will win the national title this year, not UConn.
  • Dan Madigan of The UConn Blog has a more detailed preview on this game, which many may believe is the “default national championship game.” That’s in part because UConn and Notre Dame are the most established programs left in the tournament and have women’s basketball’s biggest rivalry over the last decade.