The 2019 WNBA Draft is this Wednesday, April 10 in New York City. The first round starts at 7 p.m. ET which you can see on ESPN2. The second and third rounds are on ESPNU. The Mystics will pick 10th and 34th. They traded their second round pick (22nd overall) to the Dallas Wings in the Aerial Powers for Tayler Hill trade last year.
On this post, let’s go through a list of players whom we can expect to get drafted in the first round. I’ve separated them into “Forget about it!”, Reaches, Realistic options for the Mystics when the tenth pick’s number is ready to be called.
Forget about it!
Like most WNBA Drafts, there are some talents who can expect to be picked very early. And much of the time, they are expected to be stars almost right away. The big story about this year’s draft was whether Oregon junior point guard Sabrina Ionescu (pronounced “Yawn-es-koo”) would go pro because she turns 22 this year. She’s decided to stay.
While that news may be of significance to Aces, Liberty. Sky and Fever fans, it doesn’t mean much for the Mystics. No matter what happens, you can expect these players to be picked by another team well before Mike Thibault will. If the Mystics get any of these players, it’s because Washington made a blockbuster trade that involved Emma Meesseman and/or Elena Delle Donne, something that just doesn’t seem plausible.
- Asia Durr, 5’10, G, Louisville — The first team All-American averaged 21.2 and 3.3 assists per game this season. She’s a Top-3 pick.
- Teaira McCowan, 6’7, C, Mississippi State — Averaged 18.4 points and 13.5 rebounds a game for the Bulldogs who are just one year removed from two straight championship game appearances. She’s also a Top-3 pick.
- Kalani Brown, 6’7 C, Baylor — Brown’s averages were 15.6 points and 8.1 rebounds a game in her senior season, slightly down from her 2017-18 numbers. I think she’s more happy about winning the national championship this season. She could be a lottery pick but will likely get drafted before it’s the Mystics’ turn to pick.
- Kristine Anigwe, 6’4 C, Cal — Anigwe averaged 22.5 points and 16.2 rebounds this season (!!!) Still, she’s likely a mid first round pick at worst.
- Napheesa Collier, 6’2 F, Connecticut — Collier averaged 20.8 points and 10.8 rebounds a game while leading the Huskies to four consecutive Final Fours in her tenure. Collier won’t be the top pick this year, but I’m sure she also won’t fall to 10th.
- Jackie Young, 6’0 G, Notre Dame — Young declared early for the Draft and she will turn 22 this year. She averaged 14.7 points and 7.4 rebounds this season. She is widely considered to be a lottery pick.
These players are probably gone by the time the Mystics have their pick at number 10. But if a trade toward the top of the draft order happens or if a team in the middle of the draft order picks someone from “left field,” then the Mystics may have a shot to draft one of these players:
- Alanna Smith, 6’4 F, Stanford — The senior averaged 19.4 points, 8.6 rebounds this season while shooting nearly 40 percent from the three-point line (81-of-204 overall). There are many posts available in this draft but Smith is the one who’s best equipped in a “positionless” and perimeter-oriented era we’re in today. Perhaps she’d be in the first category if she was an American. Smith averaged 6.3 points for the Opals in the 2018 Women’s Basketball World Cup before her senior season.
- Arike Ogunbowale, 5’8 G, Notre Dame — Ogunbowale is best known as the heroine of the Fighting Irish in the 2018 NCAA Women’s Basketball tournament where she scored two buzzer beating game winners to give Notre Dame the national championship last year. This season, the Fighting Irish were the runners up. Ogunbowale averaged 21.8 points and 3.8 assists per game but she only shot 44.6 percent from the field and 35.9 percent from three. Maybe she’s a taller version of Ivory Latta, but she could also have a rather lukewarm career in the WNBA if she cannot play some point guard.
- Katie Lou Samuelson, 6’3 F, Connecticut — Samuelson came to Connecticut as a blue chip prospect and didn’t disappoint averaging 18.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. However, she also had her worst efficiency as a senior. That and playing in the AAC may be why she’s not a surefire lottery pick. But if she drops to tenth, the Mystics should pick Samuelson in my opinion.
Realistic options for Washington at the 10th spot
These players aren’t likely top or mid-first round picks. Because of that. the Mystics should be able to select among these players:
- Megan Gustafson, 6’3 F, Iowa — The senior led the Hawkeyes to the Elite Eight this season and averaged 27.9 points and 13.5 rebounds per game. She did this in a Big Ten Conference where the locally-based Maryland Terrapins run the show. Gustafson also won the Naismith Player of the Year and AP Player of the Year awards. A number of mock drafts are leaning toward her wearing a Mystics uniform this year. She’ll be a great low post scorer for D.C. if this happens.
- Bridget Carleton, 6’1 F, Iowa State — Carleton averaged 21.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4 assists a game this season where the Cyclones made the second round of the NCAA Tournament. She is also a Canadian national and played for their team in last year’s World Cup.
- Sophie Cunningham, 6’1 G. Missouri — Cunningham is a strong all-around wing where she averaged 17.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game this season. She made over 40 percent of her threes in each of the last two seasons and shot nearly 50 percent from the floor in all four of her college seasons.
- Jessica Shepard, 6’4 F, Notre Dame — Shepard averaged 16.7 points and 10.3 rebounds a game in the college season. What sets her apart from other posts is that she averaged over 3 assists per game as well. For a team that likes to pass the ball around like Washington, she may not be a bad fit.
More international prospects
We already mentioned two international prospects earlier with Smith and Carleton. But here are some other non-American players who could be picked in this year’s draft. If nothing else, maybe they’re worth a training camp invite:
- Ezi Magbegor, F, Melbourne Boomers (WNBL), from Australia — Magbegor is averaging 8.7 points and 4.3 rebounds in Australian play. She was on the World Cup team last year. Some mock drafts have her going late in the first round but she is likely moving down to the second.
- Han Xu, 6’9 C, Xinjiang Magic Deer (WCBA), from China — Han is regarded as the top prospect from China. She was on the World Cup team where she averaged 8.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. She may be a first-round pick, but the Mystics are in win-now mode.
- Li Yueru, 6’7 C, Guangdong Dolphins (WCBA), from China — Like Han, Li was on the Chinese team that played in last year’s World Cup, averaging 7.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.
- Emese Hof, 6’3 C, Miami, from the Netherlands — Hof played a major role for the Hurricanes, who earned a 4-seed in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the second round. Hof also has a strong body to be in the low post against other European and American players. Due to college commitments, Hof couldn’t play for the Netherlands in EuroBasket Women qualifiers. But now that she can go full steam ahead, it will make games against Belgium, the Netherlands’ archrivals whom you should be very familiar with, a lot more competitive. She averaged 14.2 points and 8.3 rebounds for Miami this season. She could be as high as a second round pick but is also worth a shot with the third as well.
- Laura Cornelius, 5’8 G, Miami, from the Netherlands — Cornelius left the Hurricanes after the 2018-19 season to pursue a professional career. She may get a camp invite somewhere, but it’s more likely that Cornelius pursues a pro career in Europe and plays full-time with the Netherlands national team like Hof would. She averaged 10.1 points and 4.1 assists per game. That said, Kim Mestdagh had a successful college career, played several years in Europe and went “Beast Mode” for Belgium before signing with the Mystics.