With all eyes on a deep WNBA draft class, four teams made an especially big splash with their choices Monday night. Their talent pools indicate that each will make some serious noise in the 2023 season.
1. Aliyah Boston, South Carolina, PF
7. Grace Berger, Indiana, PG
13. Taylor Mikesell, Ohio State, SG
17. LaDazhia Williams, LSU, PF
25. Victaria Saxton, South Carolina, SF
With the first overall pick, the Indiana Fever chose 2022 player of the year Aliyah Boston. She will pair up with second-year forward NaLyssa Smith for a formidable front line. Boston can score, and she is an outstanding rebounder and defender.
“I mean, she’s generational, right?” Fever coach Christie Sides said. “She’s not only the full package of being a great player but just a great person and is going to be a great person with this franchise.”
Grace Berger, the “mid-range queen,” brings toughness and defense to the roster. Taylor Mikesell is an excellent three-point shooter; she shot 41 percent this season for Ohio State. Mikesell could provide floor spacing for Indiana.
“Let me be clear about Grace Berger: We drafted her because she’s an exceptional player,” general manager Lin Dunn said. “She’s an exceptional player who can play three positions, an exceptional person off-the-court, and just happens to be down the road. She is (coach) Christie Sides’ type of player.”
“I know it looked like we got a little greedy taking both Berger and Mikesell, two top guards from the Big Ten, but they can both score. They also can make other people better on the court. You’ve got to come out and guard Mikesell and come out and guard Berger.”
LaDazhia Williams will compete with Queen Egbo for a roster spot. Victaria Saxton could defend wings and bigs, but her offense must develop for her make the roster.
2. Diamond Miller, Maryland, SG
12. Maia Hirsch, France, C
16. Dorka Juhász, UConn, C
24. Brea Beal, South Carolina, SG
28. Taylor Soule, Virginia Tech, SF
Diamond Miller can score the basketball. She averaged 19.7 for the Terps this past season, as she is excellent at getting into the lane and getting to the rim.
“I can do multiple things,” Miller said. “I’m a three-level scorer, and can play on both sides of the court. “
Maia Hirsch is a draft-and-stash player with tremendous upside, while Dorka Juhasz brings size, with the ability to knock down outside shots.
Brea Beal was a projected first-round pick and fell, but could be the steal of the draft. She was a defensive player of the year finalist who has improved her outside shot a lot, and must keep improving it. Beal said her ability to learn and adapt is her strength.
“It’s the biggest compliment when it comes to me, (is when someone says I am) able to take in things and listen and just being able to adapt, do things that coaches need from me, teammates need from me,” she said.
6. Haley Jones, Stanford, PG
8. Laeticia Amihere, South Carolina, PF
15. Leigha Brown, Michigan, SG
Getting Haley Jones was a huge pickup for Atlanta, as she is a versatile player who can pass, get to the basket and defend, and she has a high basketball IQ. She has been criticized for her lack of an outside shot, but she was not utilized that way at Stanford.
“We’re excited to have Haley as a part of the Dream,” head coach Tanisha Wright said. “Haley is somebody who we know is a good kid, and she is going to be a great culture fit here. She shows extreme versatility in her game, has the ability to play multiple positions and does a lot of different things well, while also making others around her better.”
With Jones’s skill set and willingness to work, there is no reason for her not to develop a jump shot at the pro level. If and when she does, the sky is the limit for her.
Laeticia Amihere is athletic, and could be a massive asset for Atlanta with her defensive ability.
“Laeticia’s size and athleticism are going to translate very well and will turn her into a long-term player in this league,” Wright said. “Her work ethic and willingness to come in and get better are really going to make her a special player for us. We are excited to have her here in Atlanta, and are looking forward to watching her grow.”
Leigha Brown will battle for a roster spot, which will come naturally to her, as she is a competitor.
“There’s a toughness and a tenacity about Brown that I really like,” Wright said. “She plays with a chip on her shoulder and isn’t afraid to go to battle – that mindset will give her an advantage as she comes in every day and competes for us.”
3. Maddy Siegrist, Villanova, PF
4. Stephanie Soares, Iowa State, C
5. Lou Lopez Sénéchal, UConn, SG
11. Abby Meyers, Maryland, SG
19. Ashley Joens, Iowa State, SF
31. Paige Robinson, Illinois State, SG
The Dallas Wings wanted players that could shoot from the outside, and they got it in Maddy Siegrist. She can score from anywhere on the floor, and did just that during her senior year, as she averaged 29.2 points per game.
General manager Gregg Bibb said the Dallas staff knew of her as early as high school, and followed her college career with the Wildcats.
“Obviously, in the last year, and two years, she’s risen to the top of the national spotlight,” Bibb said. “In terms of her ability to lead Villanova and, in particular, score the basketball as the nation’s leading scorer, Maddy is far more than just an offensive player; I think her defensive ability is underrated. She has great size and length. She can play a multitude of positions.”
The Wings made a draft day trade to get Stephanie Soares, and also drafted her teammate Ashley Joens from Iowa State. Soares will not play this year due to a knee injury.
“We would have considered Ashley Joens two years ago if she had come out in the draft,” Bibb said. “She was eligible to participate in, and obviously, that didn’t happen again last year. But, you know, a premier shooter plays bigger than her size and is a tough competitor. She is very serious about her basketball craft. Awesome teammate.”
Bibb said Soares’ talent is worth waiting for.
“There aren’t that many 6-6 post players who can run the floor and shoot the ball like Stephanie,” he said. “The other thing that jumped off the film for me was how good her feet were, and her ability to finish with either hand in a small space. You don’t get that kind of complete package that often.”
Dallas wanted shooting, so they added Lou Lopez Sénéchal – a transfer from Fairfield – with the fifth pick.
I’ve known about Lou since day one at Fairfield,” Bibb said. “I watched her transition to UConn, and she did it seamlessly. She is just pure in terms of her ability to shoot the basketball.”
It will be hard for all these players to make the roster, but it is clear that the Wings want a floor spacer for All-Star guard Arike Ogunbowale to go to work.
Preseason play begins May 5, with the regular season scheduled to tip off May 19.