Wilson expected to go first in WNBA draft
By DOUG FEINBERG
NEW YORK (AP) It would be a real shock if A'ja Wilson isn't the first pick in the WNBA draft Thursday night by the Las Vegas Aces.
The AP college player of the year, who starred at South Carolina, has been the consensus choice all season.
"I think in our league, her biggest thing, she's going to scare a lot of the people guarding her because she's able to take the ball to the basket off the drive," Las Vegas coach Bill Laimbeer said.
After that, things get a little bit unpredictable. A lot of teams are trying to move up in a very loaded draft, but none of the offers have been serious enough for either Indiana, which drafts second, and Chicago, which picks third and fourth, to really consider.
In all three mock drafts done by a few WNBA coaches and GMs for the AP, Indiana is expected to take Ohio State guard Kelsey Mitchell second. The Fever also hold the eighth and 14th picks.
"I've got to weigh everything," Indiana coach/general manager Pokey Chatman told The Associated Press in a phone interview Wednesday. "Look at the big picture. We need a little bit of everything."
Chatman said she hasn't really gotten any serious offers for the second pick in at least a month.
"It's too close to the draft to be wasting each other's time," the coach and GM of the Fever added.
Chicago has also been fielding calls for the third and fourth pick, but coach and general manager Amber Stocks isn't going to part with either one without getting a lot back in return. Stocks isn't 100 percent decided yet who the team will take with the two picks. But that's no surprise as Stocks said, she always would be studying and crunching numbers until the last minute when she was in school.
"If you know me, even in 11th grade, Ms. Sheraw reading class, I'd be studying before the test. That's who I am," Stocks said. "A minute before I took the SAT, I was still reviewing the SAT book. By nature I'll review numbers and film as long as there's time on the clock."
Stocks is looking to get the Sky better in a few different areas with the draft.
"We have to improve in three specific areas, we must improve our overall defensive efficiency rating," she said. "We must improve our free-throw attempts and we must improve our rebounding, particularly our defensive rebounding."
Players that may help improve those areas include Diamond DeShields, who spent the season playing professionally in Turkey, and UConn's Gabby Williams and Azura Stevens.
Whether in Chicago or elsewhere, those three players will help teams out in the draft as well as point guards Jordin Canada and Lexie Brown.
"I think it's quality at multiple positions that can help several teams fill specific needs," Chatman said.
One of the biggest x-factors in the draft is Russian sensation Maria Vadeeva. She's played professionally in Russia for four years with WNBA stars Nneka Ogwumike, Epiphanny Prince and Angel McCoughtry. The 6-foot-3 center could end a six-year drought of foreign players getting selected in the first round.
"She's obviously a talent. She's surrounded by talent abroad and is playing well," Chatman said. "But you always have to guard against taking a player with such a high pick, just because of the commitment. In the past, national team commitments and the top player. Of course she'll be on everyone's board. There are too many question marks there that we still have to work through."
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Updated April 12, 2018