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WNBA Draft profiles: Can Shakira Austin be a sleeper pick for the Mystics at No. 1?

We finish our list of draft profiles with the Fredericksburg, Va. native.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 05 SEC Women’s Tournament - South Carolina Gamecocks v Ole Miss Rebels
Shakira Austin has seen her stock rise this college season.
Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Washington Mystics will have the No. 1 pick in this 2022 WNBA Draft on April 11. We will finish our list of detailed profiles with Mississippi center Shakira Austin. She was listed as the No.3 pick in Mechelle Voepel’s mock draft after Baylor forward NaLyssa Smith and Kentucky guard Rhyne Howard, whom we already have profiles on.

So, could Austin sneak into the top selection? Or could she be an option if the Mystics decided to trade down?

Stats: Austin averaged 15.2 points and 9.0 rebounds per game for the Rebels, who lost to South Dakota in the first round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

Best game this season:

On Jan. 9, Austin scored 26 points on 8-of-10 shooting against Tennessee, who made the Sweet 16.

Austin was named to the All-SEC First team in each of the last two seasons. Before coming to Ole Miss, she played two years at Maryland where she was named to the Big Ten All-Defensive Team as a freshman.

What strengths does Austin have?

Austin is a 6’5 post and her physical size will be an advantage at the pro level. She is a good all around scorer at the college level which should translate into the W this summer. Austin will also be a strong low post defender and shot blocker, where she averaged over 2 per game this past season (2021-22).

Finally, as an added bonus, Austin is from the D.C. area and is a native of Fredericksburg, Va.

What things can she work on?

Like Smith, Austin can work on extending her range to be a more consistent three point shooter. She will also have to work on becoming more efficient on offense against stronger defenses at the pro level, considering that her NCAA tournament run was cut short in the first round by a stout South Dakota defense. WNBA teams will be even tougher.

How could Austin fit in with the Mystics?

Washington did not have a single player who averaged over a block per game last season Austin should be able to address their shot altering needs in that regard right away, though she could be a bit foul prone as she adjusts to the WNBA style of play. That said, like Smith, Austin is likely coming off the bench as a rookie given that Washington already has significant depth with Elena Delle Donne, Myisha Hines-Allen, Elizabeth Williams, Stephanie Mavunga, Erica McCall and Tianna Hawkins at the 4 and 5 positions. That said, Austin could still be a solid starter in future seasons, whether in Washington or whichever team she gets drafted by.