Before the season we came up with a list of 13 players to watch based on junior year statistics, in part just to figure out whose progress to watch in preparation for the next WNBA season but also in part to learn a bit more about junior statistics.
The lesson, in case you didn't already know from following sports: drafting is still not a science, and especially not when using statistics from more than a year before draft day.
|Elena Delle Donne||2|
Our list of preseason WNBA Draft prospects to watch.
Of those we left off the list, two of the first rounders we missed (Kelsey Bone, who had a year of eligibility left, and Lindsey Moore) were on the radar but fell just short of making that preliminary list for one reason or another. Two others (Kayla Alexander and Layshia Clarendon) made significant improvements during their senior year that took them from borderline prospects to clear top 10 prospects.
Of those we included on the list who didn't get undrafted, two were expected by mid-season: both Anna Martin and Monique Oliver were playing through injuries during their season season and saw their numbers decline in significant ways. But Markel Walker headlines a list of undrafted players with bigger names than those whose names went uncalled in the last two years.
Markel Walker, F, UCLA Bruins
Walker was not only considered a draft prospect, but a first round prospect throughout the season and as late as last week when people began posting mock drafts.
However, Walker was one of the players that I wavered on when putting together our preseason list - although she did a lot of things (handle the ball, rebound, score, defend in full court sets) and had proven herself to be a triple double threat by the end of her freshman year, she wasn't a very efficient player overall. Even the thing that always seemed to stand out about her as a skill was undermined in her senior year by a clear weakness: a 25.60% assist ratio is good for any player, nevermind a 6'1" forward who ran her teams offense during a large portion of games; a 19.72% turnover ratio really hurts anyone's chances of making a roster.
Carolyn Davis, C, Kansas Jayhawks
Yet explaining why Davis didn't get drafted might be a bit more clear: despite being a more efficient scorer than some of the other centers drafted, a difficult injury history and a low offensive rebounding rate were major questions that some might have had about her when he came to making decisions on draft night.
Karisma Penn, F, Illinois Fighting Illini
Penn was one of a handful of honorable mention All-Americans who didn't hear her name called although she was talked about as a potential first round draft pick in some circles.
As described last week, her biggest red flag was a high turnover rate that just doesn't bode well for anyone at any position. Still, she does have a reasonable offensive rebounding rate (11.04%) that could help her compete in someone's training camp.
Jordan Madden and Destiny Williams, Baylor Lady Bears
I did not expect Baylor's entire senior class to get drafted, but did think Madden and Williams had as good a chance as Brooklyn Pope: Madden shot 40% from 3-point range, albeit at a low usage rate; Williams was one of the better rebounders in the draft, albeit at only 6'1".
Pope was turnover prone in her senior year, but had a surprisingly high usage rate that did separate her from the rest.
Chelsea Davis, F, Florida State Seminoles; Morgan Johnson, Iowa Hawkeyes
Every year there's a few players whose statistics show neither weaknesses nor major strengths, which makes them hard to peg. Davis and Johnson were those two players this year: both were relatively efficient players who didn't have a major statistical strength.
WNBA GMs looked around the world for talent this season, but - aside from the Chicago Sky with the second pick in the draft - stayed away from mid-major prospects this season.
That might not be surprising at all: as noted earlier this year, the track record for mid-major prospects has been rather dismal since the league moved to 11-player rosters. Even the top prospects drafted have struggled to find a spot in the league; those that have found a spot haven't been all that consistent.
Yet even with that in mind is that the group of mid-major prospects in this year's draft was much better than usual, even adjusting for strength of competition somewhat: San Diego State's Chelsea Hopkins, Princeton's Niveen Rasheed, and Green Bay's Adrian Ritchie were all very efficient players with the size to compete for spots at their respective positions.
Whether they'd make a roster is a separate question: as with all of the players on this short list, I had them rated in Tier 5 or lower on my final draft board, which was essentially the players who I wasn't as confident about earning a roster spot.
For more on last night's draft, visit our 2013 WNBA Draft section.