Monday, May 27, 2024

WNBA draft recap: Caitlin Clark goes No. 1 to Fever, plus all the highlights, analysis

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Caitlin Clark, the prolific shooting guard from Iowa who set the NCAA all-time scoring mark and ushered in a newfound popularity for women’s basketball that reaped records for attendance and television viewership, was selected No. 1 overall in the WNBA draft by the Indiana Fever on Monday night.

The 22-year-old native of West Des Moines, Iowa, electrified crowds wherever she played this season because of her shooting range, regularly hitting logo 3-pointers with ease, and her playmaking ability, routinely setting up teammates for easy scores.

Clark joins a Fever team with 2023 WNBA Rookie of the Year Aliyah Boston. The Fever finished 13-27 last season and missed the postseason in each of the past seven seasons. But an inside-outside combination of Clark and Boston, who was the No. 1 pick in last year’s draft, could propel Indiana back to the playoffs once again.

“My point guard eyes light up at that,” Clark said after the Fever officially selected her Monday night. “I’m just gonna feed Aliyah the ball every game … That’s what I’m gonna do. I can’t wait to be her teammate again.”

College basketball’s all-time leading scorer is not the only big-named player who walked the orange carpet at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. LSU’s Angel Reese, the “Bayou Barbie” who created a rivalry with Clark in last year’s title game, and Stanford’s Cameron Brink, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, are going pro as well. Boston’s former teammate Kamilla Cardoso, who was named the Final Four Most Outstanding player after beating Clark in the national championship, was also on the draft board. 

USA TODAY Sports provided updates and analysis on picks throughout the night. Read below the photo gallery for a recap of all the picks and the highlights.

NEW YORK — Caitlin Clark, the prolific shooting guard from Iowa who set the NCAA all-time scoring mark and ushered in a newfound popularity for women’s basketball that reaped records for attendance and television viewership, was selected No. 1 overall in the WNBA Draft by the Indiana Fever on Monday night.

Clark joins a Fever team with 2023 WNBA Rookie of the Year Aliyah Boston. The Fever finished 13-27 last season and missed the postseason in each of the past seven seasons. Now, the Fever already are seeing action at sportsbooks as being one of the few betting favorites to win the championship.

The 22-year-old native of West Des Moines, Iowa, electrified crowds wherever she played this season because of her shooting range, regularly hitting logo 3-pointers with ease, and her playmaking ability, routinely setting up teammates for easy scores.

Clark led the Hawkeyes to a second consecutive national championship game appearance, where they lost to South Carolina. While doing so, she led the nation in eight offensive categories, including scoring 31.6 points per game, 3-point makes and 3-point attempts. She also ranked second in assists per game while averaging 7.4 rebounds. She finished her career with 3,951 points, and a record 548 3-point makes.

She leaves Iowa with an impressive individual trophy haul, winning the AP Player of the Year award, Wooden Award, and Naismith Award twice each.

The anticipation of Clark coming into the league is virtually unmatched, with teams changing venues for Fever games and selling out tickets in anticipation of her playing in their cities. The Connecticut Sun, which open their season against the Fever at home, sold nearly 800 tickets within 24 hours of the schedule being released. The Las Vegas Aces, the two-time defending champions, moved their July 2 home game against Indiana from the 12,000-seat Michelob Ultra Arena to T-Mobile Arena, which has a capacity of 20,000.

Even the WNBA Draft, which was open to fans for the first time in eight years, sold out its 1,000 ticket allotment at the Brooklyn Academy of Music within 15 minutes of going on sale. — Scooby Axson

Caitlin Clark spoke at length after be selected by the Indiana Fever with the No. 1 overall pick in Monday night’s draft. Read what college basketball’s all-time leading scorer said after she was drafted in this Q&A here.

Cameron Brink is headed to Los Angeles as the newest addition to the Sparks. Brink, a 6-4 forward from Stanford, was selected as the No. 2 pick in Monday night’s draft.

Brink, who won the 2021 national championship with the Cardinal, was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year after dominating on both ends of the court all season. Besides her prowess on the hardwood, Brink, known for her physical play and signature blond braids, has a solid NIL portfolio and family ties to NBA star Stephen Curry. Cameron Brink averaged 17.4 points and 11.9 rebounds per game this season with Stanford. Her boards average ranks third in the country. She also led the nation with 3.74 blocks per outing. — Victoria Hernandez

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Cameron Brink selected No. 2 in 2024 WNBA draft

Cameron Brink has been selected second overall in the 2024 WNBA draft. Mackenzie Salmon explains what she brings to the league.

Kamilla Cardoso, a 6-7 center from Brazil who led South Carolina to the 2024 NCAA championship, was taken by the Chicago Sky with the No. 3 pick in Monday’s draft.

Cardoso’s stock is higher after a strong run in the NCAA Tournament, including 15 points, 17 rebounds, and three blocks in the national championship game. She earned tournament Most Outstanding Player honors after South Carolina’s run to another title. She’s a force on the defensive end and is improving on offense as a post scorer.

Cardoso will be coached in Chicago by another Hall of Fame point guard in Teresa Weatherspoon after Dawn Staley coached her in South Carolina.

“It means the most to me and that I’m in good hands,” Cardoso said. — Ayrton Ostly

Rickea Jackson, a 6-2 forward who starred at Tennessee, joined No. 2 pick Cameron Brink in Los Angeles when she was selected by the Sparks with the No. 4 pick.

Her size will help her make an immediate impact for the Sparks, a team looking to get back to the top of the league (and back to the playoffs). Per ESPN, Jackson was one of only five SEC players to average 20 points and five rebounds per game over multiple seasons. Her versatility will be huge as she moves on to the pros, and her explosive first step will help her get to the rim pretty much anytime she wants. She has a thin frame but is stronger than she looks, which allows her to finish through contact. I expect both her and Brink to play a ton of minutes (though it’s worth pointing out that Brink will have to learn how to play without fouling).

“I’m honored, honestly,” Jackson said after being drafted. “I feel like what Cam and I bring is foundational. I feel like we’re willing to put in the work, we’re willing to do whatever as rookies.” — Lindsay Schnell

Jacy Sheldon, a 5-10 All American guard out of Ohio State, is heading to Dallas after the Wings drafted her with the No. 5 pick in Monday’s draft.

Sheldon is one of the top guards in this draft not named Caitlin Clark. She’s a plus defender and three-point shooter that could help on both ends immediately. She averaged 17.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.9 steals per game in her final season with the Buckeyes. — Ayrton Ostly

Aaliyah Edwards, a 6-3 forward who helped lead UConn back to the Final Four this season, was taken by the Washington Mystics with the No. 6 pick.

Edwards, a two-time All American, could have an immediate impact. She’s a very good defender and improving as a post scorer and jump shooter. She averaged 17.6 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.7 steals and 1 block per game in the 2023-24 season. — Ayrton Ostly

Angel Reese is headed from the Bayou to the Windy City after being drafted by the Chicago Sky with the No. 7 pick in the WNBA draft. Reese will team with Kamilla Cardoso, whom the Sky selected with the No. 3 overall pick.

“She’s a great player and I’m a great player,” Cardoso said after learning the news. “Nobody’s gonna get more rebounds than us.”

Reese, who led the Lady Tigers to last year’s NCAA title and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, was a first-team All-American this season, averaging 18.6 points and 13.4 rebounds per game. She averaged 20.9 points and 14.4 rebounds in for the Tigers over her last two seasons and would likely continue as a walking double-double in the WNBA.

“My first time playing Kamilla was on one of the biggest stages of my life, which was when she played for Hamilton Heights and I played for St. Frances in high school and we battled,” Reese said after she was drafted. “Now, being able to be teammates is gonna be amazing.

“I actually talked to her earlier, was congratulating her. I know she just came off an amazing run, an amazing college career. I’m looking forward to playing with her in practice and in games, just bouncing off of each other, so I’m excited for this. — Steve Gardner and Ayrton Ostly

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Angel Reese selected No. 7 overall in the 2024 WNBA draft, here’s what she brings to Chicago

Angel Reese has been selected seventh overall in the 2024 WNBA draft. Mackenzie Salmon explains what the LSU star brings to the Chicago Sky.

Alissa Pili will join the Minnesota Lynx after being taken with the No. 8 pick in Monday’s draft.

Rebecca Lobo said it best: Alissa Pili is an intriguing, unique talent. The No. 8 pick who will head to Minnesota, Pili is wildly efficient. Though she’s undersized at 6-foot-2, she’s extremely strong and crafty around the bucket, able to score on players who are (considerably) bigger than her. Need proof of just how good she is? She scored 37 points (37!) on South Carolina — yes that’s the national champion Gamecocks, who were the top defensive team in the country this season. — Lindsay Schnell

Carla Leite, a 5-9 guard from France, was taken by the Dallas Wings with the No. 9 pick in Monday’s draft. She will join Jacy Sheldon, who the Wings took with the No. 5 pick.

Leila Lacan, a 5-11 guard from France, was taken by the Connecticut Sun with the No. 10 pick in Monday’s draft. Lacan was the second consecutive French player taken in the first round after the Dallas Wings took Carla Leite at No. 9.

Marquesha Davis, a 6-0 guard who played at Ole Miss, will make Brooklyn her new home after the New York Liberty selected her with the No. 11 pick in Monday’s draft.

The McGegee, Arkansas, native averaged 14 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game as a senior. She also shot 44.7% from the floor and 23.9% from 3. — Rachel G. Bowers

Australian players have had a lot of success in the WNBA over the years, and now a new player is headed to the league.

Nyadiew Pouch was taken by the Atlanta Dream with the final pick of the first round. Another top international player in this draft, the 6-foot-3 forward is a very good rim protector and is improving her jumper and playmaking on the offensive end. — Ayrton Ostly

Angel Reese looked like a star ready to take over the league as she strolled on the orange carpet, posing for photographs before the WNBA draft in a sparkly black dress, befitting her self-proclaimed moniker “Bayou Barbie.”

The Chicago Sky drafted the LSU star with No. 7 pick in the WNBA draft. Reese says she lives by the motto, “Every day the sun don’t shine, that’s why I love tomorrow.”

Before the draft, Reese said it didn’t matter to her where she got drafted, what was more important was going into the right fit and a chance to showcase her skills, which included 61 double-doubles in the last two seasons.

The Sky is coached by Hall of Famer Teresa Weatherspoon, who was coached by LSU coach Kim Mulkey when she was an assistant at Louisiana Tech.

“Knowing the conversations were so good, she felt like a mother to me. Being able to be a black woman as a head coach,” Reese said. “I just knew everything they were bringing to the table. I’m super excited for this move and looking forward to getting to Chicago.” — Scooby Axson

Guard, Gonzaga

Mazwell averaged 12.9 points and 3.2 rebounds for the Bulldogs while shooting 43.7% from the field.

Guard, UConn

Mühl improved her stock by holding strong against Clark in the Final Four, showcasing her defensive prowess. She’s a good jump shooter as well and led a talented UConn offense in assists per game (6.5). — Ayrton Ostly

Guard, Ohio State

Taylor averaged 10.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.5 steals per game over 32 contests this season. — Rachel G. Bowers

Guard, Syracuse

Fair became the third all-time leading scorer in women’s college basketball history after surpassing Kelsey Mitchell (3,402, Ohio State) and Jackie Stiles (3,393, Mississippi State) in late March. She averaged 22.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.2 steals per game in the regular season this year. Fair has knocked down 107 3-pointers this season, trailing only Clark (173), and was named to the 2024 All-ACC First Team. — Cydney Henderson

Guard, Arizona

Martinez averaged 10.4 point and 8.3 rebounds and shot 46.4% from the field for the Wildcats.

Guard, Iowa

Martin averaged 7.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and three assists while shooting 46.4% from the field while teaming with Caitlin Clark on the Hawkeyes.

Center, Kansas

Jackson averaged 12.4 points and 10. 4 rebounds, while shooting 62% from the field for the Jayhawks

Guard, Australia

Borlase plays for the Adelaide Lightning in Australia’s Women’s National Basketball League

Guard, Gonzaga

Truong averaged 9.4 points, 3.9 assists and 2.1 rebounds for the Bulldogs.

Guard, Arizona

The Spanish native averaged 9.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 3.2 steals for the Wildcats in 2023-24.

Center, Mississippi State

Carter averaged 11.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and shot 54.2% from the field for the Bulldogs. She’s a reliable shot blocker on defense and a solid scorer on offense. She’d provide depth immediately. — Ayrton Ostly

Center, Virginia Tech

Kitley did not play in the NCAA Tournament after suffering an ACL tear in Virginia Tech’s regular-season finale. Kitley, a 6-6 grad student from Summerfield, North Carolina, led Virginia Tech to the program’s first Final Four last season. She was again having an All-America campaign in 2023-24 averaging 22.8 points, 11.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks before her injury. — Eddie Timanus

Guard, UCLA

Forward, Indiana

Guard, Florida

Forward, Southern California

Guard, Nebraska

Guard, Belgium

Guard, Louisville

Guard, Italy

Guard, Penn State

Guard, Columbia

Forward, Southern California

Center, Jackson State

Jackson became the second HBCU player to be drafted in the last 20 years, joining Meshya Williams-Holliday, who was selected by the Indiana Fever in the third round of the 2022 WNBA draft.

Angel Reese is brash, bold and, in college at least, one of the best ballers in the country. 

But how does her game translate to the WNBA? 

Monday night, Reese was selected by the Chicago Sky with the No. 7 overall pick, joining SEC rival Kamilla Cardoso from South Carolina, who the Sky took No. 3 overall, and Gonzaga sharpshooter Brynna Maxwell, who they drafted at No. 13 overall.

Reese is an intriguing pro prospect. She’s a tremendous athlete with a great motor, a gifted rebounder who reads the ball off the glass extremely well. At LSU this season, she averaged 18.6 points and 13.4 rebounds per game, one of just a handful of players in women’s college basketball to average a double-double.

But one important thing to note about all those double-doubles: Reese rebounds a lot of her own misses, something that likely won’t be available to her in the WNBA because other forwards will grab the board first — including her teammates.

Reach Lindsay Schnell’s full analysis here.

For a league so outspoken about women’s rights, it might surprise people to learn that the WNBA will hold the 2024 All-Star Game in Phoenix.

Just last week, the Arizona Supreme Court voted to enforce a near-total abortion ban that dates to 1864, a decision that does not reflect the values of one of the nation’s most progressive professional sports leagues.

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert did not answer a question about if the league discussed moving the 2024 All-Star Game during her pre-draft remarks to media Monday night. The game is scheduled for July 20 and was announced in March. — Lindsay Schnell and Nancy Armour

Read the full story here.

We asked some hoops legends for their thoughts on the generational talent. Steph Curry, Maya Moore, Kelsey Mitchell and others broke down her game, explaining what makes her so special.  

Caitlin Clark is well-known for her incredible shooting – go watch videos of those logo threes – but the likely No. 1 overall pick, says scoring may not be the biggest thing she brings to the WNBA.

“I think the biggest thing is my passing,” Clark said during a conversation with LaChina Robinson, Carolyn Peck and Chiney Ogwumike during ESPN’s pre-draft show. “I think that’s kind of what people overlooked sometimes in college. People just love the scoring so much, and don’t get me wrong, I love shooting the ball, but I think that’s the biggest thing. And obviously being surrounded by so much talent no matter where I end up – the league is loaded with so many people – I think (passing) is something I always had a knack for.

“I grew up playing soccer and understanding angles and seeing the game before it even happens. And I think once I get playing with my teammates, they’ll be able to read me too and read my eyes. I love playing with good post players. I love playing with good guards and wings. And that’s what this league is all about.”

WNBA expansion is on everyone’s mind, including WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert’s.

During her pre-draft availability Monday evening Engelbert said “our plan and goal is to get to 16 teams in the next few years” — but she wouldn’t give a specific timeline.

Late in 2023, it was reported that Portland would be the 14th team and begin play in 2025, the same season the Bay Area team is slated to begin play. But then Portland fell apart as an immediate expansion city for a variety of reasons, meaning the league will play with just 13 teams in 2025.

Other cities are in discussions with the league to bring a WNBA team to their neighborhood, including Philadelphia, Nashville, Denver, Toronto and others (Portland is also still in consideration).

“By 2028 I feel pretty confident we’ll be at 16 teams,” Engelbert said.

She added that there are no details to share yet on the expansion draft that will be necessary before the 2025 season, but said it’s likely to take place in December of this year.

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert can’t stop gushing about the rise of the game, which is more popular than ever before. And she’s convinced it’s only going to get better. “Women’s basketball is not a fad, Engelbert said. “We’ve been steadily building this momentum for years, and we’re ready for what’s next.”

All that being said, the W still will not charter planes for every trip, a major issue across the league that players have been outspoken about for years. The league does provide charters for the entirety of the playoffs and all back-to-back games – there are numerous back-to-backs this season because the schedule is tightly compressed with the 2024 Summer Olympics break – but for regular season games, it sounds like it’ll continue to be commercial flights for many of the world’s best athletes.

This is the first year since 2016 that the WNBA Draft has had fans in attendance, which is interesting. Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said tickets sold out in less than 30 minutes, which is par for the course where Caitlin Clark is concerned. Engelbert has called the rise of women’s basketball over the last year “a transformational moment in sports.” 

Caitlin Clark has a fan in Sarah Hirshland, the head of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Clark has played on USA Basketball’s youth teams — she has three gold medals and was MVP of the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup — and was added to the Olympic pool last month. She was unable to attend the national team’s most recent training camp because it occurred during the Final Four but called the invitation “a tremendous honor.”

There are no more training camps scheduled before the USOPC’s July 7 deadline to submit the U.S. Olympic team. That doesn’t mean Clark is out of the running for Paris, however.

Though rare, Clark making the Olympic team right out of college would not be unprecedented. Both Diana Taurasi (2004) and Breanna Stewart (2016) did.

The biggest prospects in the 2024 WNBA draft arrived in New York City for their big moment Monday night but not before a visit to one of the city’s most iconic landmarks.

The players visited the Empire State Building in Manhattan early Monday before heading over to Brooklyn for the night’s festivities, where the 12 WNBA teams will select their newest additions at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Caitlin Clark and Kamilla Cardoso, who faced off in the NCAA women’s basketball championship game earlier this month, lit the Empire State Building in orange — the signature color of the league.

Next stop for Caitlin Clark is WNBA. What kind of player will she be for Indiana Fever? 

Caitlin Clark has been called the greatest of all time (by Iowa fans), overrated (by most other Big Ten fans), “an alien,” (by Diana Taurasi), a generational talent (by Dawn Staley and Kim Mulkey) and just about every other superlative you can imagine.  

But what do any of those descriptors mean when it comes to how her game will translate to the WNBA?  

Clark, who scored 30 points in her final college game, an 87-75 loss to South Carolina in the national championship, is expected to be taken No. 1 by the Indiana Fever tonight at the 2024 WNBA draft in Brooklyn. But what can basketball fans reasonably expect from Clark in her first professional season? USA TODAY’s Lindsay Schnell breaks it all down

It’s been 10 years since Chiney Ogwumike, an All-American in her time at Stanford, went No. 1 to the Connecticut Sun. Now a forward with the Los Angeles Sparks, Ogwumike on Monday afternoon called fellow Cardinal standout Cameron Brink — who’s expected to be drafted No. 2 overall by the Sparks — the “best two-way player in this draft.”

Brink, who earlier this month was named the national defensive player of the year, averaged 17.4 points and 11.9 rebounds per game her senior season. She’s a shot-blocking sensation — when she can stay out of foul trouble. Earlier Monday, Brink was added to the USA Basketball 3×3 pool for the upcoming Paris Olympics. 

Catch more of Ogwumike breaking down Brink and soon-to-be No. 1 pick Caitlin Clark’s games here.

Monday’s WNBA draft is arguably the most anticipated since the 2013 draft when Brittney Griner went No. 1 overall to the Phoenix Mercury, Elena Delle Donne was selected second by the Chicago Sky, and the Tulsa Shock (now Dallas Wings) used the third pick to take Skylar Diggins.

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark, who led her team to a second consecutive national championship game appearance, leaves school as the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer and a two-time national player of the year.

Her mere presence in the WNBA is expected to bring new excitement to a league that has had trouble getting eyeballs for the majority of its 28-season existence. But for most of these draft picks cracking a roster, even as a first-round selection, can be a tough task as there are only 144 roster spots available over the 12-team league. Read Scooby Axson’s full WNBA mock draft.

With women’s basketball on the rise as the 2024 WNBA Draft arrives, one of the most dominant athletes in all of sports said she is interested in becoming an owner of a professional women’s basketball team.

In an interview with CNN on Monday, 23-time grand slam tennis champion Serena Williams said she is interested in becoming a WNBA owner. Because of the excitement and interest surrounding women’s sports, Williams said “it’s an overly safe bet” for her to invest.

“I absolutely would be (interested). With the right market, I would definitely be super-interested in that,” she said.

To fully understand and appreciate the pride Utah women’s basketball standout Alissa Pili feels for her Polynesian heritage, one needs only to look at her right leg. 

Tattooed there, in prominent display from ankle to hip, is a spiral of Polynesian tribal symbols. In ancient times, ink like that — especially full sleeves — was typically associated with warriors. But because the senior, who is Samoan and Alaska Native (Inupiaq), also values femininity, she asked her tattoo artist to add flowers, too

That’s also a fitting description for Pili, a top prospect in the 2024 WNBA draft, and a likely first-round pick. Read Lindsay Schnell’s full story on Pili and how Polynesian women’s basketball players are taking pride in sharing heritage while growing game.

What is the 2024 WNBA draft order?  

FIRST ROUND 

UPDATE: The WNBA announced Sunday afternoon that the Chicago Sky and Minnesota Lynx swapped first-round picks, which is reflected below. 

  1. Indiana Fever 
  2. Los Angeles Sparks 
  3. Chicago Sky (from Phoenix Mercury) 
  4. Los Angeles Sparks (from Seattle Storm) 
  5. Dallas Wings (from Chicago Sky) 
  6. Washington Mystics 
  7. Chicago Sky (from Atlanta Dream, via Los Angeles Sparks) 
  8. Minnesota Lynx 
  9. Dallas Wings 
  10. Connecticut Sun 
  11. New York Liberty 
  12. Atlanta Dream (from Las Vegas Aces via Los Angeles Sparks) 

SECOND ROUND 

  1.  Chicago Sky (from Phoenix Mercury) 
  2.  Seattle Storm 
  3.  Indiana Fever 
  4.  Las Vegas Aces (from Los Angeles Sparks) 
  5.  New York Liberty (from Chicago Sky) 
  6.  Las Vegas Aces (from Washington Mystics) 
  7.  Connecticut Sun (from Minnesota Lynx) 
  8.  Atlanta Dream 
  9.  Washington Mystics (from Dallas Wings) 
  10.  Connecticut Sun 
  11.  New York Liberty 
  12.  Las Vegas Aces 

THIRD ROUND 

  1.  Phoenix Mercury 
  2.  Seattle Storm 
  3.  Indiana Fever 
  4.  Los Angeles Sparks 
  5.  Phoenix Mercury (from Chicago Sky) 
  6.  Washington Mystics  
  7.  Minnesota Lynx 
  8.  Atlanta Dream 
  9.  Dallas Wings 
  10.  Connecticut Sun 
  11.  New York Liberty 
  12.  Las Vegas Aces 

Who will be the No. 1 pick of the WNBA draft? 

There is no likely about it. The Indiana Fever are expected to select Caitlin Clark with the top pick in the 2024 WNBA draft on Monday. 

Opposing teams are already marketing their games against the Fever and Clark, and in the case of the Las Vegas Aces, moving a home game against Indiana to a bigger venue. 

The Indiana Fever earned the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 WNBA draft after winning the draft lottery on Dec. 10, 2023

This marks the second consecutive year that the Fever has the first pick. Indiana selected former South Carolina star Aliyah Boston with the No. 1 pick in 2023. Boston went on to win WNBA Rookie of the Year honors last year. 

What players are at the WNBA draft? 

Following the conclusion of the 2024 women’s NCAA Tournament, where a record 18.7 million people tuned into the NCAA championship game to see the South Carolina Gamecocks and Kamilla Cardoso defeat the Iowa Hawkeyes and Caitlin Clark, fans can now turn the page to the 2024 WNBA draft to witness both stars turn pro. 

Clark and Cardoso headline 15 prospects invited to the 2024 WNBA draft, which will be held Monday, April 15 (starting at 7:30 p.m. ET) at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York. 

And the lineup is stacked

The 2024 WNBA draft prospect class includes Clark, the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer; Cardoso, who was named the 2024 NCAA Tournament’s most outstanding player after leading the undefeated Gamecocks to a national championship; Syracuse’s Dyaisha Fair, who has the third-most points in NCAA women’s history; and LSU’s Angel Reese, who led the Tigers to a national title in 2023 as that year’s most outstanding player. 

The WNBA draft consists of three rounds with 12 picks in each round. 

The order is determined by last year’s standings with the teams with the worst records picking first and the top teams picking last. The exceptions are the first four picks of the first round, which were determined by the draft lottery, and any picks that are traded. Draft picks can be traded until the order is locked in at 5 p.m. ET on April 14 (the day before the draft). 

As the most promising day in the history of the WNBA arrives, the American cultural spotlight shines brighter than it ever has on a female athlete in a team sport, and on the possibility she brings to lift basketball and all women’s sports to a place they have never been. 

But the glare of that bright and sometimes harsh light hasn’t fixed on the magical Caitlin Clark alone. Over the past couple of weeks, it has focused on the players who have come before her, some of whom strangely appear to be having trouble accepting and dealing with her fame, even as they will benefit greatly from it. 

As Clark was leading Iowa to its second consecutive NCAA final, this one a loss to undefeated national champion South Carolina, and delivering massive TV ratings that for the first time ever beat the men, some of the biggest names in her sport were talking about her. Of course they were. How could they not? Everyone wanted to know what they thought about this generational talent, this household name, this college record-breaker — superstars like Diana Taurasi and Breanna Stewart in particular. Read Christine Brennan’s full column

What’s next for CC? Caitlin Clark’s brilliant, record-breaking collegiate career came to an end when Iowa and two-time national player of the year fell in the national championship game for the second consecutive year as South Carolina capped a perfect season.  

Clark, a logo shooting supernova who captured the hearts and eyes of millions over the past couple seasons while re-writing the scoring record books, will go down as one of the most transcendent stars in all of sports, at all of 22 years old. In a state with a deep history of hoops known for producing stellar women’s basketball players, Clark stands above the rest. 

So what’s next for the Des Moines native? Plenty. And it’s going to be a whirlwind few weeks

Women’s basketball superstar Caitlin Clark made a surprise appearance on this week’s “Saturday Night Live” during the show’s “Weekend Update” segment. 

Clark, who will likely be the top pick in Monday’s WNBA draft that is being held in New York, popped by Studio 8H and joined the “Weekend Update” desk with anchors Michael Che and Colin Jost. 

The NCAA’s all-time leading scorer showed up after Che made a joke about Iowa retiring Clark’s jersey. Che then read some more jokes that Clark “wrote.” 

After the humorous exchange, Clark delivered a heartfelt message about her basketball future after Che wished her success in her upcoming rookie season in the WNBA. — Jace Evans 

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