The Dallas Wings made the most of their wealth of WNBA draft picks Thursday and came out winners.
They had the first two picks for the first time in league history, and also had picks No. 5 and 13. In taking a pair of posts and two explosive guards, the Wings have made their young team more formidable.
At No. 1, Dallas chose Texas center Charli Collier, who guided her team to a surprise Elite 8 appearance in last month’s NCAA Tournament. Next they took Finland center Awak Kuier, and with the fifth pick, they went with SEC leading scorer Chelsea Dungee from Arkansas. With the first pick in the second round, they took Louisville point guard Dana Evans.
Charli Collier, C, Texas
Collier became the first player in WNBA history to be drafted first overall from her school, after forgoing her senior season to enter the draft. She improved her range on her jump shot a lot over the last year, and has a tremendous upside as a hard worker.
She said it was a dream come true to be drafted.
“Amazing. I would say right about when they would start (the draft) when I heard Dallas Wings, I would get the butterflies, the nervousness started to kick in,” Collier said. “But I just reacted how I felt. It was just amazing to know that your hard work pays off no matter what you do, and I feel like the best is still yet to come.”
Collier should start right away and see many one-on-one matchups playing with third-year star guard Arike Ogunbowale, with the attention she demands. After struggling in the NCAA Tournament against South Carolina, Collier will have a lot to prove in the WNBA, but the said she is ready for the challenge.
Awak Kuier, C, Finland
Kuier could have the highest ceiling of any player in this year’s draft. She is multi-skilled and can hit mid-range jumpers, handle the ball in the open floor, and shoot threes. Kuier is also athletic and can move well for her size.
She said she didn’t expect to be chosen second.
“First of all, being the top five pick was like a surprise because I’m 19, so I’m the youngest in the draft class,” she said. ‘It was a good surprise, and I’m very happy about it.”
Kuier and Collier could combine with Megan Gustafson and Bella Alarie to make the paint a terrifying place for opponents.
Chelsea Dungee, G, Arkansas
Dungee is a dynamic scorer, and this past season averaged 22.3 points per game on 42.4 percent shooting from the field and 38.7 percent from the three-point line. She attacks the basket with authority and knows how to get to the free-throw line. Dungee nearly eclipsed 2,000 points in her three years with the Razorbacks while shooting an impressive 40 percent overall from the field and 35.4 percent from beyond the arc.
She said she looks forward to bringing her shooting acumen to her new team.
“I think that I have the ability to score the basketball from everywhere on the floor,” Dungee said. “I can shoot the three consistently. You’ll see more of my mid-range game. I’ve always had it, but I didn’t get to showcase it as much in college. But the midrange, for sure. And getting to the basket, getting fouls, getting under the defense. I think that I can contribute in all those ways.”
Dungee gives the Wings another dynamic scorer, as well as providing a perimeter threat when Ogumbowale goes to the rack.
Dana Evans, PG, Louisville
A projected first-round pick, Evans’ availability in the second round was a steal for the Wings. She was a marquee player for the Cardinals, averaging 20.1 points and often delivering clutch performances that carried the team to wins. She also shot the ball exceptionally well from beyond the arc, making 37.7 percent of her threes and netting a total of 222 triples.
Evans said she did not expect to be drafted in the second round. “It’s a blessing, I’m just really excited to finally hear my name,” said Evans to Holly Rowe during ESPN’s coverage of the WNBA Draft. “But, I’ll use it as motivation because I didn’t expect to be this far (in the draft). I’m ready to take on whatever I have to do, and I’m excited.”
Her presence will be interesting for Dallas, as they already have Ty Harris, Moriah Jefferson and Marina Mabrey at the point. But Jefferson is recovering from a knee injury and has missed a lot of time the last couple of seasons, and Mabrey only plays the point when necessary.
Evans will be coming in with a chip on her shoulder and a lot to prove, which could be a good thing if she doesn’t try to do too much. If she lets the game come to her, she will be successful.
With a roster that is now 14-deep, and a new coach in Vickie Johnson, the Wings need to begin bringing their pieces together. If they do, they will be a fun team to watch.