Since I analyzed the Washington Wizards on how they did in the NCAA Tournament, it’s only right you know how the Washington Mystics, the 2019 WNBA champions, did as well.
Since we are still in the middle of the WNBA’s offseason, I’ll be looking at the 2019 team instead of the 2020 team. There’s not much of a difference minus a player and a couple additions.
Out of 12 players on the team, the only two who haven’t had a March Madness appearance are Belgium natives Emma Meesseman and Kim Mestdagh. Meesseman played professional basketball since she was a teenager in Belgium and France. And In Mestdagh’s case, she played at Colorado State University and had a four year career from 2007-11 but the Rams never made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Looking at the remaining 10 players, Kristi Toliver holds the spot for who went the furthest as she’s the only one who won a National Championship.
Kristi Toliver (Maryland, 2006 National Champion)
Toliver is the only National Champion of the Mystics team as she won as a freshman giving Maryland their first title. She’s responsible for what they call “The Shot” as she hit a three-pointer to send the game to overtime against the favored Duke Blue Devils. Toliver also sunk a pair of free throws to seal the championship victory. She helped Maryland make appearances throughout her remaining college career: 2007 (Second Round); 2008 (Elite Eight); 2009 (Elite Eight).
Ariel Atkins (Texas, 2016 Elite Eight)
Atkins played for the Texas Longhorns whose best came in her freshman year in the Elite Eight as a two-seed before losing to the UConn Huskies 86-65 in 2016. The Huskies ended up winning the title that year. Atkins’ sophomore, junior, and senior year were NCAA appearances, all losing in the Sweet Sixteen.
Natasha Cloud (Maryland & St. Joseph’s, 2014 Second Round)
Cloud is one of two players on the Mystics team that has attended two different colleges. She attended Maryland her freshman year, 2010-2011, and St. Joseph’s from 2012-2015. Cloud and the Hawks made it to the second round before being eliminated by the future 2014 champs UConn Huskies, 91-52. In her junior year, Cloud also notched career-highs in rebounds, assists and steals.
Elena Delle Donne (Delaware, 2013 Sweet Sixteen)
The 2019 WNBA MVP has been to March Madness twice, 2012 and 2013. Her best came in 2013 being part of the Delaware Blue Hens going to the Sweet Sixteen. Their run was ended by the Kentucky Wildcats, 69-62. She scored 33 points in the loss. Delle Donne and the Blue Hens took out 11-seed West Virginia and three-seed North Carolina Tar Heels on their way to the Sweet Sixteen. After her college career ended, Delle Donne was the second pick of the 2013 WNBA Draft where she initially played for the Chicago Sky.
LaToya Sanders (North Carolina, 2007 Final Four)
In all four years of Sanders’ tenure at UNC, the team has been a number one seed. In 2006 and 2007, Sanders and the Tarheels made it to the Final Four, while in 2005 and 2008, they were ousted in the Elite Eight. In 2006, Sanders and UNC lost to Kristi Toliver and the Maryland Terrapins who went on to become National Champs. The Tennessee Longhorns in 2007 ended the Tarheels run in the Final Four, 56-50.
Tianna Hawkins (Maryland, 2012 Elite Eight)
Hawkins, another fellow Terrapin, made it to the NCAA Tournament her sophomore, junior and senior years, the best coming in 2012 as they made the Elite Eight. They lost to one-seed Notre Dame, 80-49, the runner-ups that year. Her first taste of the tournament was in 2011 making it to the second round. And her senior year ended with the Sweet Sixteen before declaring for the WNBA draft going sixth overall.
Myisha Hines-Allen (Louisville, 2018 Final Four)
Hines-Allen’s best year was her senior year making the Final Four in 2018 with the Louisville Cardinals. As a one-seed, they faced another one-seed in Mississippi State in the Final Four going to overtime, but fell short 73-63. Hines-Allen averaged 14.3 points per game and 9.6 rebounds per game her final season. Her previous tournament appearances included the Sweet Sixteen in 2015 and 2017, and the second round in 2016.
Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (Maryland, 2015 Final Four)
Yep, another Maryland Terrapin folks! Walker-Kimbrough in her freshman and sophomore year tasted the Final Four. In 2014, Maryland lost to Notre Dame 87-61, who were runner-ups losing to UConn. And in 2015, Maryland faced off against the UConn Huskies, but couldn’t get the job done losing 81-58 to the national champs that year.
Aerial Powers (Michigan State, 2016 Second Round)
Powers played on sophomore and senior years were the only time her and Michigan State made the NCAA Tournament not going past the second round. Only three points away from victory, the Spartans lost to Mississippi State 74-72. In 2014, the UNC Tarheels ended their brief run losing 62-53.
Kiara Leslie (Maryland & North Carolina State, 2015 Final Four)
Leslie is the other player on the Mystics who has played for two teams: Maryland and NC State where she spent two seasons at both. She went to the Final Four with Maryland in 2015 making that her best appearance and was also teammates with Walker-Kimbrough. At NC State, Leslie made the Sweet Sixteen twice.