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WNBA Draft Watch 2020: Kaila Charles is establishing herself among the Maryland greats

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The No. 20 Maryland Terrapins entered the season as favorites to win the Big Ten. Although their competition has been stiffer than expected, leading scorer Kaila Charles remains one of the most dangerous players in the conference. Accordingly, she is one to watch come the 2020 WNBA Draft.

Loyola-Maryland v Maryland
Kaila Charles has always been able to score, but it’s been her rebounding that has been most impressive this season.
Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

Ever since the No. 20 Maryland Terrapins moved to the Big Ten in 2014, they’ve consistently been at or near the top of the conference standings. Head coach Brenda Frese is one of the best in the business at recruiting top talent and many of her former players have ascended to the professional ranks.

The latest in that lineage is senior wing Kaila Charles. The 6-foot-1 guard has been the driving force behind Maryland’s success since the 2017-18 season, playing a brand of bully ball that physically overwhelms most defenders in the conference.

Things haven’t been quite as smooth for Maryland this season — the Terrapins already have suffered losses to Iowa and Northwestern — but the program will in all likelihood still be in the mix for a Big Ten title come tournament time. When that happens, Charles will be leading the charge — something Maryland fans have become well accustomed to.

Honors and statistics

As one of the conference’s premier players over the past two seasons, Charles got plenty of love from preseason award voters. Along with being named Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year and a Preseason AP All-American, she was named to the Wooden, Wade and Cheryl Miller watch lists.

Currently, Charles is averaging just under 14 points per game to go along with eight rebounds and two assists. She also has grown into quite the ball hawk, averaging a career-high two steals per game.

How she helps the Terrapins

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 08 Women’s James Madison at Maryland
Kaila Charles

While Charles’ scoring numbers are down from her sophomore and junior seasons (she averaged 17 or more points per game from 2017 to 2019), she remains one of the country’s toughest players to defend in space, thanks to a highly explosive first step. She also gets off the ground quickly and has a relentless approach to going after the basketball — currently averaging more offensive rebounds (4.4) per game than defensive rebounds (3.6).

Per Her Hoop Stats, Charles’ offensive rebounding rate ranks right up there with the nation’s best frontcourt players.

Analysis drawn from statistics may vary, especially when those numbers involve comparing players from different conferences. In this case, the metrics do a great job of portraying the type of player Charles is: a physically gifted wing who is at her best off the bounce and mixing it up in the paint. Maryland has upped its pace since last season and is playing more aggressive defense, a style of play in which Charles is right at home. You can bet WNBA teams that like to play similarly will be taking a good look at Charles come draft day.

Watch her play

With Big Ten play in full swing, most of the Terrapins’ remaining games will be either televised on Big Ten Network (BTN) or streamed via BTN+. Maryland plays a pair of games against conference leader Indiana on Jan. 20 and Feb. 6, and one against Iowa on Feb. 13. The Terrapins also have a game against Lindsay Whalen’s Minnesota Golden Gophers on Mar. 1, which will be televised on ESPN2.