The Los Angeles Sparks drafted Dynamo Kursk center Maria Vadeeva 11th in the 2018 WNBA Draft. Vadeeva was widely considered to be the top international prospect in this year’s draft. Above, you can see her highlights in a EuroLeague Women group stage game against Galatasaray this season.
On Dynamo Kursk, Vadeeva starts regularly alongside Sparks post Nneka Ogwumike, Dream guard Angel McCoughtry. She isn’t a passive bystander for them either, where she’s averaging 10.7 points and 5.5 rebounds in EuroLeague Women, while averaging 12.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game in the Russian PBL.
Vadeeva is still just 19 years old, but already has the physical strength and skill to play in the WNBA. The only concern about her is international team commitments to Russia, where her national team is 4-0 in Group C EuroBasket Women 2019 qualifiers. Even though she will likely miss part of 2019 for EuroBasket Women, Vadeeva won’t have any international commitments for the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup. Russia fizzled out in the group stage of EuroBasket Women 2017, which featured two teams in this year’s World Cup: Belgium and Latvia.
In L.A., Vadeeva will have a lot of competition in the low post as she will have to compete for time with Ogwumike and Jantel Lavender. But if anything, Vadeeva is a long term option for the Sparks given her age.
Regardless, Vadeeva could very well be the steal of this draft if she plays in the USA more often than not. I can’t wait to see her play in the WNBA, even if she thought she would go 7th or 8th earlier today.