- M.A. Voepel covers the WNBA, women’s college basketball, and other college sports for espnW. Voepel began covering women’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.
Just 16 teams are left in the 2023 women’s NCAA tournament, and after 48 games in four days and dozens of prospects taking center court, it’s time to again project the first round of the WNBA draft, which will be held April 10. That’s just eight days after the national title game in Dallas, and the draft has something in common with the NCAA tournament: The South Carolina Gamecocks are at the top.
The Gamecocks and Virginia Tech Hokies are the two No. 1 seeds still alive in the Sweet 16, and South Carolina is favored to repeat as national champion. But South Carolina post player Aliyah Boston is likely an even surer bet to hear her name called first on draft night.
Since our last mock draft, one very big name announced she won’t enter the draft and will instead return for a fifth season of college: Tennessee Lady Volunteers post player Rickea Jackson.
We will see throughout the rest of the NCAA tournament how many other players make the same decision to use the COVID-19 waiver from the 2020-21 season to return. That’s one of the things that makes this draft so fluid even less than a month before the Indiana Fever will be on the clock with the first pick.
As one WNBA team executive said in regard to everyone’s draft boards: “We are all going to be all over the place.” For now, here’s a shot at how it could go.
1. Indiana Fever: Aliyah Boston
South Carolina Gamecocks | F | 6-foot-5 | senior
She continues her march toward a second NCAA title, and there seems no doubt she can bring the same excellence and stabilizing force to the Fever. Boston is ready to embrace the responsibilities of a No. 1 pick.
2. Minnesota Lynx: Diamond Miller
Maryland Terrapins | G | 6-foot-3 | senior
Miller’s performance in the Terps’ second-round win — 24 points, six rebounds, seven assists and three steals — is what makes her so enticing to WNBA scouts. At her best, Miller is a game-changer. One question might be if the Lynx are interested in a true post player instead.
3. Dallas Wings: Jordan Horston
Tennessee Lady Vols | G | 6-foot-2 | senior
Horston has helped the Lady Vols reach the Sweet 16, and she has a heck of a motor. New Wings coach Latricia Trammell loves defense and could put Horston’s skills to use, along with her ability to rebound.
4. Washington Mystics: Stephanie Soares
Iowa State Cyclones | C | 6-foot-6 | senior
Iowa State has petitioned for Soares, who was lost for this season with an ACL injury on Jan. 8, to get another year of eligibility. It seems a long shot. The former NAIA player of the year adapted quickly to Division I with great footwork and hands as a true center. Her high ceiling is why she’s a possible lottery pick now despite being hurt.
5. Dallas Wings: Maddy Siegrist
Villanova Wildcats | F | 6-foot-2 | senior
Siegrist has Villanova in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2003. She has been a points machine for the Wildcats. With her versatility as a scorer at her size, the Wings could see her as another important offensive threat for a team likely to be pretty defensive-minded.
6. Atlanta Dream: Haley Jones
Stanford Cardinal | G | 6-foot-1 | senior
Jones is a multidimensional playmaker whose size and skill set make her intriguing. Formerly projected as a lottery pick, she might fall to the middle of the first round in part because she doesn’t have a 3-point shot, and scouts aren’t sure she will develop one.
7. Indiana Fever: Brea Beal
South Carolina Gamecocks | G | 6-foot-1 | senior
Beal has never been a big scorer for the Gamecocks, but it’s hard to accurately measure just how many opponents’ points she prevents with her defense. We know the Fever want a strong defensive identity and Beal could help with that, along with possibly reteaming with Boston in the WNBA.
8. Atlanta Dream: Elizabeth Kitley
Virginia Tech Hokies | C | 6-foot-6 | senior
Kitley and the Hokies are a No. 1 seed for the first time and chasing a Final Four berth; next up is Tennessee in the regional final and then either UConn or Ohio State. Kitley has a chance to show her stuff on a big stage. Then she could give Atlanta a big post who can run the floor.
9. Seattle Storm: Grace Berger
Indiana Hoosiers | G | 6-foot-0 | senior
The Hoosiers’ upset loss in the second round was heartbreaking for Berger, who helped transform Indiana’s program. But she’s an adept playmaker, energetic defender, elite jump shooter and physically very strong. And she will work on her 3-point shot at the next level.
10. Los Angeles Sparks: Ashley Joens
Iowa State Cyclones | F/G | 6-foot-1 | senior
Joens showed her mettle in willing Iowa State to the Big 12 tournament title with three victories in three days over NCAA tournament teams. Iowa State was upset in the NCAA tournament’s first round, but Joens had a double-double. She finished with over 3,000 points and 1,300 rebounds for the Cyclones, and the Sparks could use a scoring wing.
11. Dallas Wings: Lou Lopez Senechal
UConn Huskies | F | 6-foot-1 | senior
The fifth-year senior has helped the Huskies advance to the Sweet 16 by shooting 43.5% from behind the arc, where she has made 73 3-pointers. It’s hard to be sure which direction Dallas will go with this pick, but her long-range accuracy and size should help Lopez Senechal.
12. Minnesota Lynx: Laeticia Amihere
South Carolina Gamecocks | F | 6-foot-4 | senior
Amihere has shown a lot of versatility for the Gamecocks, even running the point guard spot at times. She is averaging 7.3 points and 3.4 rebounds, but her numbers don’t define her potential on a deep South Carolina team. It’s her length and quickness on defense, and her ability to fill several potential roles.
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