Fashion, HBCUs win whereas ESPN drops ball

The WNBA welcomed 36 extra gamers to the ranks on Monday night time with the 2022 draft headlined by No. 1 total choose Rhyne Howard to the Atlanta Dream. The league is taking the handoff from the NCAA event, which ended eight days in the past, and can tip off its twenty sixth season on May 6.

One of the largest wins of the night time was listening to extra on Phoenix Mercury star and Team USA gold medalist Brittney Griner, who stays jailed in Russia since mid-February. WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert started her press convention with the media by addressing Griner’s scenario and saying the league is working to convey her residence however everybody “needs to be patient.”

Griner was a speaking level in the course of the broadcast with updates from Holly Rowe as nicely. Players have remained largely mum concerning the scenario seemingly as a result of they don’t wish to convey undesirable consideration to it and have Griner used as a bargaining chip within the struggle with Ukraine.

Here are the winners and losers from the draft itself. All of the 36 draft picks could be discovered right here.


Rhyne Howard’s No. 1 night time — Howard has lengthy been an anticipated No. 1 total draft choose and led many mock drafts earlier within the 12 months. But Baylor’s NaLyssa Smith, who ended up going second, was a favourite choose for a lot of when the Washington Mystics held the pick of December’s lottery.

The Dream pulled off a commerce final week to surrender their No. 3 and No. 14 picks to usher in Howard, a two-time SEC Player of the Year choice and solely the ninth participant to be a three-time Associated Press All-America first-team choose. Atlanta has had its fair proportion of turmoil over the previous two years, a few of which was no fault of its personal, and it has to really feel good to know a workforce traded as much as convey you there.

“To go first, I don’t even have words for it right now,” Howard mentioned. “I’m still kind of shaking. But it is super exciting, and I’m proud of what I’ve done, proud of myself, and thankful for everyone that’s been on this journey with me and that’s helped me to get here.”

Howard is coming off a shock SEC event championship and a 3rd consecutive season of averaging no less than 20 PPG, 6 RPG, 2 SPG and two tried 3-pointers per recreation. She will play close to her hometown of Cleveland, Tennessee.

In-person once more and oh my, the suits — The draft was held in-person for the primary time since 2019 and it was refreshing to see the reside moments, to not point out the proud households sitting with their skilled basketball gamers. Shoutout to Grandma Brenda at Spring Studios in Tribeca, the place Fashion Week is held.

It’s at all times the style that grabs consideration at any draft, and the WNBA constantly leads the way in which. Players are extra authentically themselves than ever and showcase the vary of the league itself. There are so many various methods to be an individual; the WNBA would not subscribe to becoming in a mildew.

Who will simply overlook South Carolina guard and Indiana Fever draftee Destanni Henderson in a wonderfully blue swimsuit. Or Ole Miss star Shakira Austin, the Mystics’ No. 3 total choose from that Dream commerce, in a starry jumpsuit?

Mid-majors and HBCUs specifically — It was a giant night time for mid-majors beginning with Florida Gulf Coast guard Kierstan Bell. The two-time Becky Hammon award winner for greatest mid-major participant within the nation is heading to play for Becky Hammon herself and the Las Vegas Aces.

The award given by Her Hoop Stats is simply in its third 12 months and strives to showcase the expertise past the Power Five conferences which might be usually expanded to incorporate the Big East, led by UConn. And it was a giant event for mid-major colleges as parity grows within the collegiate ranks.

Joining Bell on the night time: Hawaii’s Amy Atwell (Sparks, No. 27), South Dakota’s Hannah Sjerven (Lynx, No. 28), Delaware’s Jasmine Dickey (Wings, No. 30), North Florida’s Jazz Bond (Wings, No. 31) and IUPUI’s Macee Williams (Mercury, No. 32). It as soon as once more goes to indicate good scouts will discover good expertise, it doesn’t matter what title is on the entrance of the jersey.

It was an HBCU that stood out brightest past Florida Gulf Coast and Bell’s choice, although. Jackson State almost upset LSU and legendary coach Kim Mulkey within the first spherical of the NCAA event. Now middle Ameshya Williams-Holliday is this system’s first-ever draft choose at No. 25 to the Indiana Fever.

Williams-Holliday averaged 19.2 factors and 11.4 rebounds per recreation whereas taking pictures 54% from the sphere. She is the sixth HBCU participant to be drafted to the league and the primary in 19 years.


ESPN shortchanging the W. Again — There’s an opportunity it is the primary time you are listening to of the historic facet to Williams-Holliday’s choose even when you did watch the WNBA draft reside. ESPN did not focus on the choose when it occurred, simply because it did not focus on a lot of the second or third-round choices. Her title and “Pick is in” went on a backside third graphic as a substitute of being known as out by the hosts. It was one other missed alternative by the broadcaster to showcase the league it has a enterprise stake in by proudly owning broadcast rights.

ESPN has at all times skipped by way of the later rounds of the draft and as a substitute of calling out picks as they’re in, the information is delivered on a ticker and later the hosts checklist a bunch of 5 or 6 collectively by title. The solely ones they stopped for have been draft picks on the website who had dropped previous the primary spherical.

Is it actually truthful to shortchange two-thirds of gamers in a small draft? This is their one massive alternative to listen to they have been drafted, an enormous feat in itself. It would have been so particular to later see TikTook or Instagram Live reactions of those mid-major gamers after listening to their title known as on TV. A professional league draft is made within the mini moments, not a recap of rosters or first-round choices.

Florida Gulf Coast's Kierstan Bell reacts after being selected by the Las Vegas Aces as the 11th overall pick in the WNBA basketball draft, Monday, April 11, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Florida Gulf Coast’s Kierstan Bell reacts after being chosen by the Las Vegas Aces because the eleventh total choose within the WNBA basketball draft, Monday, April 11, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Many of those gamers is not going to make rosters — This is the grim annual actuality. There are 12 groups with 12 rosters spots every creating the “144” of the league. But that is not a real quantity as many groups can have 11 gamers because of wage cap issues. Last season half of the draftees didn’t make a roster, and fewer of these picks will probably be on rosters in 12 months 2.

Teams are extra apt to signal a identified veteran expertise than a rookie one, although the rookie wage may make it attractive to maintain them over a higher-priced star. But quite a lot of these gamers are in robust conditions with the groups that drafted them already carrying a stable roster.

“My main goal is to get up there and get signed,” Emily Engstler, the Fever’s fourth total pick of Louisville, mentioned when requested about her targets. “We might have gotten drafted, but we didn’t get a contract yet. That’s my first step. I want to live in the moment. I think it’s important for us to do that or it becomes a little too much.”

Approximately .8% of collegiate girls’s gamers make it to the WNBA, a statistic a lot decrease than another skilled league the bar graphs are staggering. ESPN did present these to begin the published, making their omittance of the few who did “make” it — no less than for just a few weeks — all of the extra exhausting to swallow.

Expanded roster speak —Expansion is the speak of each availability with Engelbert, and Monday was no exception. The COVID-19 pandemic compelled a pause on enlargement that may hopefully ease up quickly and Engelbert teased extra info coming this summer season.

“I wish I could be in a different position to talk about it, but we’re going to get there and it’s definitely in our future,” Engelbert mentioned.

Roster enlargement is taking on workforce enlargement after a season that noticed some groups use six obtainable gamers for video games and the hardship exemption used greater than ever to signal gamers to brief stints. Rebecca Lobo, citing discussions with coaches and normal managers, floated the concept of two apply participant spots throughout a pre-draft media convention name. Engelbert would not “see that in the very near term” and it could take a change to the collective bargaining settlement since these gamers should be paid.

“If I get my way and we disrupt the media rights fee model and we’re able to afford that, we’ll absolutely take a look at that,” she mentioned. “I think everything will be on the table in a couple years. In fact, I expect that.”

Expect extra hardship signings and shorter rosters within the coming season, particularly because it’s an expanded 36-game season in a shortened window as a result of FIBA World Cup in September.

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