With the WNBA Draft just six days away, NCAA players are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. For some, this means doing so without that last push from late-stage tournament games.
Obviously, the goal at the beginning of the season is to be the last team standing in the end. But for some players, March Madness was their final chance to increase their stock for the WNBA Draft — and being knocked out of the tournament ended these efforts.
Here are five players no longer in the NCAA Tournament whose team or individual performances affected their WNBA Draft prospects:
Sophie Cunningham, Missouri
Sophie Cunningham and the Missouri Tigers witnessed their season end at the hands of the Iowa Hawkeyes, as they lost 68-52 in the second round.
Clearly, Cunningham is going to be a solid WNBA player in the near future. The Missouri guard finished the season averaging 17.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists while shooting 40.7 percent from three.
Cunningham netted 21 points in the first round against Drake, but came up short with an underwhelming 8-point performance against a tough Iowa team.
Despite her second-round performance, Cunningham’s stock will remain the same because of her consistency throughout her career, averaging more than 17 points with the exception of her freshman year.
Asia Durr, Louisville
Asia Durr had a standout senior season that came to an end due to a stingy Connecticut Huskies defense.
The Louisville guard could arguably be the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft for so many reasons. For one, Durr has scored 30 or more points five times this season. One game that stands out for the All-American is her historic 47 points against NC State.
Durr can affect the game in a variety of ways, whether on the defensive or offensive side of the ball. However, the one quality that stands out about the Georgia native is her leadership and composure.
Sometimes, Durr would get off to a slow start, but her demeanor never changed. She constantly encouraged her teammates while keeping a calm approach no matter the score.
Losing to UConn will not hurt her stock, and her overall senior season is enough to improve her chances of being a high draft pick.
Megan Gustafson, Iowa
There’s not much of an argument here — Megan Gustafson has not only been the face of Iowa basketball for the last two years, but she has also dominated in the Big Ten along with the NCAA.
This year, the Wooden Award finalist is averaging a double-double (27.8 points and 13.4 rebounds) and is the fourth player in history to score 1,000 points in a season. Gustafson has been averaging 25 points or more for the last two seasons while being a prime example of a teammate.
The All-American forward is a leader who can impact the game by rebounding, switching on defense and scoring in a variety of ways. As of now, she appears to be a lock for Player of the Year.
Although Iowa lost to Baylor 85-53 in the Elite Eight, Gustafson maintained her dominance and went out with a solid effort. It’s safe to say that the Iowa forward’s stock rose despite an ugly Elite Eight loss because of her consistency and domination for the last two years.
Teaira McCowan, Mississippi State
Teaira McCowan’s college career ended after an 88-84 loss to the sharpshooting Oregon Ducks.
But McCowan finished the season off strong with 19 points and 15 rebounds in the Elite Eight loss. The 6-foot-7 center can dominate the game on the glass and on the defensive end.
Although the All-American is a dominant force on defense, she can also score at a high and efficient rate. McCowan received WBCA Defensive Player of the Year honors and is a finalist for the Wooden Award.
McCowan finished the season averaging 18.4 points, 13.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game while shooting 66.2 percent from the floor. Her strong senior season will outweigh the loss to Oregon and her stock will only continue to rise.
Alanna Smith, Stanford
Alanna Smith has continued to lead Stanford while elevating her game to another level.
The Cardinal’s season came to an end after an 84-68 loss to Notre Dame. Smith finished her final game with a stat line of 14 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists.
Obviously, Smith struggled shooting as she finished the night 5-of-11, which hurt her team in the long run. That said, the guard finished the season leading the team in scoring.
Smith’s tournament performance will not hurt or improve her draft stock, simply because of the strength of her regular-season campaign.
The WNBA Draft is next Wednesday, April 10, at 7 p.m. ET. For continuing draft coverage, check out Swish Appeal’s 2019 WNBA Draft Central.