Projecting Caitlin Clark at No. 1 and all three rounds of the WNBA draft


After Iowa fell to South Carolina in the NCAA championship game Sunday, Caitlin Clark said it was good to know the WNBA was ahead as something to look forward to. Clark is expected to be the No. 1 pick by the Indiana Fever in the April 15 draft in Brooklyn.

“She’s going to have great people around her,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said of Clark. “And if you put great people around her, that helps her succeed so much. If she’s with the Fever, playing with somebody like Aliyah Boston, I think they could really have fun together.”

But Bluder also expressed some concern at the Final Four about how tough it might be for Clark and soon-to-be WNBA rookies to go from the college season to the league so quickly.

“She’s going to be really tired after this season. That’s what concerns me the most,” Bluder said Saturday at the Final Four in Cleveland. “Rookies go into the WNBA, which is such a challenging time, at their most exhausted time.

“I just know that Caitlin has stepped up to every challenge that we’ve posed to her. And I expect the same thing at the next level. Although I know … she’s going to have to pay her rookie dues.”

Who might hear their names called in the first round of the draft? Here is our updated projection. The WNBA season tips off May 14.

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First round

ind

Iowa | PG | 6-foot-0 | senior

Clark finished her Iowa career with 3,951 points, 1,144 assists and 990 rebounds, leading Iowa to two NCAA championship games. Now comes the next step. Clark will have to go through rough treatment from WNBA veterans, but as Bluder said, she will have some talented teammates around her. Her passing skills might be one of her best attributes in her rookie season.

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Stanford | PF | 6-foot-4 | senior

We’ve kept Brink in the No. 2 spot, as her ability on both ends of the court could make her a foundational piece for a Sparks team that’s establishing a new identity now without longtime star Nneka Ogwumike. But center Kamilla Cardoso played well in the NCAA tournament. We’ll see if the Sparks stick with Brink, who has more offensive versatility than Cardoso.

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South Carolina | C | 6-foot-7 | senior

We’ve moved Cardoso up a spot. We saw how effective she can be when she gets the ball in scoring position and how much she can control the boards. This is going to be a challenging season of change and new faces in Chicago, so the Sky would need patience with Cardoso, just like with the rest of the team.

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Tennessee | SF | 6-foot-2 | senior

Jackson was Tennessee’s star the past two seasons and could be a boost to the Sparks with her scoring ability. She made a career-high 22 3-pointers this season, which is a good sign for her continued progress as she enters the WNBA. She also should be a top-notch defensive player for Los Angeles coach Curt Miller.

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UConn | PF | 6-foot-3 | senior

If Edwards is still available, the Wings don’t seem likely to bypass her. Some of the strengths of Edwards’ game were on display in the Final Four semifinal loss to Iowa, as were things she needs to work on. But she has the look of a pro post player.

wsh

Ohio State | SG | 5-foot-10 | senior

If the Mystics go with a guard, Sheldon could be the one to help with the franchise’s rebuilding period. She has a ton of energy and a hard-nosed commitment to defense. Plus, she averaged 17.8 PPG this season.

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Australia | PG | 5-foot-11

The 19-year-old appears to have a bright future ahead and already has played professionally with the Adelaide Lightning in the WNBL this season in Australia. Even if the Lynx don’t know for sure if she will play in the WNBA this season, Minnesota might want to add Borlase for 2025 and beyond.

chi

LSU | PF | 6-foot-3 | senior

Reese had 17 points, 20 rebounds and 4 assists in her final college game, the Tigers’ Elite Eight loss to Iowa. Rebounding is her top strength, and it’s a big one. How Reese’s offensive game translates to the next level is the question. Even though she and Cardoso were rivals — not friendly ones — in the SEC, might they be rookie teammates for the rebuilding Sky?

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Utah | SF | 6-foot-2 | senior

Dallas appears to have a solid core, so could Pili add a little more scoring punch? She averaged 21.4 PPG this season and shot 40.4% from 3-point range. There are questions about her defense, but she’s far from the only rookie who will face that.

conn

Syracuse | PG | 5-foot-5 | senior

Fair averaged 22.2 PPG in her five-season career, first at Buffalo and then Syracuse. She held her own in the ACC, despite her small stature. That said, it’s a matter of if the Sun see her all-around skills as good enough, along with her ability to shoot.

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UCLA | SG | 5-foot-9 | senior

Osborne, like Fair, played five seasons in college — in her case all at UCLA. The Liberty might be looking for a guard who can score at a decent level, but more importantly really defend well. That would help the guards that New York already has.

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Mississippi State | C | 6-foot-5 | senior

The Dream might have some room for depth at center, and Carter finished her Bulldog career as a second-team All-SEC player. She had her best overall season with averages of 14.9 PPG and 9.9 rebounds.


Second round

13. Chicago Sky: Nyadiew Puoch, Australia, PF, 6-3

14. Seattle Storm: Nika Muhl, UConn, PG, 5-10

15. Indiana Fever: Javyn Nicholson, Georgia, PF, 6-2

16. Las Vegas Aces: Celeste Taylor, Ohio State, PG, 5-11

17. New York Liberty: Jaz Shelley, Nebraska, SG, 5-9

18. Las Vegas Aces: Jakia Brown-Turner, Maryland, SF, 6-0

19. Connecticut Sun: Mackenzie Holmes, Indiana, PF, 6-3

20. Atlanta Dream: Leila Lacan, France, PG, 5-11

21. Washington Mystics: Elizabeth Kitley, Virginia Tech, C, 6-6

22. Connecticut Sun: Taiyanna Jackson, Kansas, C, 6-6

23. New York Liberty: Quay Miller, Colorado, PF, 6-3

24. Las Vegas Aces: Desi-Rae Young, UNLV, PF, 6-1


Third round

25. Phoenix Mercury: Carla Leite, France, SG, 5-9

26. Seattle Storm: Abbey Hsu, Columbia, SG, 5-11

27. Indiana Fever: McKenzie Forbes, USC, SF, 6-0

28. Los Angeles Sparks: Marquesha Davis, Ole Miss, SF, 6-0

29. Phoenix Mercury: Aijha Blackwell, Baylor, SF, 5-11

30. Washington Mystics: Brynna Maxwell, Gonzaga, SG, 6-0

31. Minnesota Lynx: Hannah Jump, Stanford, SG, 6-0

32. Atlanta Dream: Honesty Scott-Grayson, Auburn, SG, 5-9

33. Dallas Wings: Kiki Jefferson, Louisville, SG, 6-1

34. Connecticut Sun: Sara Scalia, Indiana, SG, 5-10

35. New York Liberty: Rebeka Mikulášiková, Ohio State, PF, 6-4

36. Las Vegas Aces: Jaylyn Sherrod, Colorado, PG, 5-7



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