The numbers behind our favorite images from the 2019 WNBA Draft
On Wednesday, April 10, 36 women’s basketball stars from the college game and international competition were drafted into the WNBA. Washington Mystics veteran Natasha Cloud (a former second-round pick out of Saint Peter’s) set the tone for the day:
Eight hours later, many of the eventual first-round picks arrived in New York to attend the draft live.
Shortly after 7 p.m. Eastern time, WNBA chief operating officer Christy Hedgpeth announced the first pick:
Young had officially declared for the draft only two days prior, but her new team, Las Vegas, had had their eye on her for “quite some time.”
Mississippi State senior center Teaira McCowan —who ranked second nationally in rebounds per game and third in points per scoring attempt — rounded out the top three picks, joining her former teammate Victoria Vivians in Indiana.
UConn stars Katie Lou Samuelson (No. 4 to Chicago) and Napheesa Collier (No. 6 to Minnesota) represented two of the next three picks, with Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale (to Dallas) sandwiched in between. All three players averaged better than 18 points and 3 assists per game.
Other first-round picks included a national champion (Kalani Brown, Baylor/Los Angeles Sparks) and the nation’s leader in rebounding (Kristine Anigwe, California/Connecticut Sun). Notre Dame’s Brianna Turner also became the Irish’s third player drafted in the first round this year.
A trade was announced, but it wasn’t the Liz Cambage news that many WNBA fans were hoping for.
The second-round picks included players from 10 different schools and a young Chinese star in Han Xu.
The first pick of the second round sent Sophie Cunningham, a sharpshooter for Missouri, to Phoenix. Cunningham has drawn comparisons to Mercury star Diana Taurasi for her swagger and competitive fire.
Dallas landed even more scoring in the form of Megan Gustafson, the national scoring champion and winner of the AP, Naismith, and espnW Player of the Year awards. As a senior, Gustafson became the fourth player and the first forward ever to score 1,000 points in a single season.
Speaking of rewriting the history books: Before the second round came to a close, the rest of the Notre Dame starting lineup had been drafted — five Fighting Irish players in the first 19 picks.
It could be a long time before we ever see a starting lineup match that feat.
At No. 20, Buffalo had its first player ever drafted in guard Cierra Dillard, who went to Minnesota. In the third round, UC Davis would also get its first-ever draft pick, with Morgan Bertsch going to Dallas at No. 29.
Canada has had several draftees over the years, including 2018 first-round pick Kia Nurse. This year, Big 12 Player of the Year Bridget Carleton (Iowa State/Connecticut Sun) added her name to the list.
Two of the final three picks of the second round were from the Pac-12: UCLA guard Kennedy Burke, who averaged 15 points and 2 steals per game, and Oregon guard Maite Cazorla, who averaged better than 4 assists per game and shot over 40% on 3-pointers. Both will head east, Burke to Dallas and Cazorla to Atlanta.
Cazorla was the only Oregon player drafted, as Wooden Award winner Sabrina Ionescu elected to return to school for her senior season. Ionescu is an early favorite for 2019–20 national player of the year and for the top pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft.
The third round gave 12 more players the chance to live out their dreams, some close to home like Kenisha Bell (Minnesota/Minnesota Lynx) and others much farther away like Li Yueru (China/Atlanta Dream).
Besides Louisville (3 players) and Notre Dame (5 players), three other schools had multiple players drafted this year: UConn (2), Baylor (2), and Mississippi State (2). All but UConn were No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, with Baylor and Notre Dame squaring off for the title.
Senators, governors, and NBA stars were just some of the well-wishers Wednesday night. It was great to see these women getting the acknowledgment they deserve from the broader community.
South Dakota State’s Macy Miller was the final pick of the evening, wrapping up a star-studded draft that included players from the United States, Canada, Australia, China, and Spain. Miller will join the defending champion Seattle Storm along with Mississippi State’s Anriel Howard (the No. 24 pick), while first-round pick Ezi Magbegor will stay in Australia until the 2020 season.
Last but not least, don’t forget to follow your favorite player (or her new team) on Twitter! Our Christopher Zwart helpfully compiled a list of every draftee’s Twitter handle:
Thanks to all who joined us Wednesday night as we live-tweeted the #WNBADraft!