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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Feeling a draft

It is a foregone conclusion that Tina Charles of UConn will be taken with the No. 1 overall pick by the Connecticut Sun and Virginia guard Monica Wright seems likely to land in Minnesota with either the second or third pick. Former Rutgers guard Epiphanny Prince also doesn't figure to fall out of the top five but after that it is nothing but a series of question marks.

What happens with the No. 3 pick could alter the entire draft. If Minnesota keeps the pick, common sense would dictate that the Lynx go big.

When the college season began, all the talk at the top of the draft surrounded Charles and Jayne Appel of Stanford. But anybody who watched the Cardinal play this season can tell you that Appel was clearly not at 100 percent. It was painful to watch her hobble off the court in the national-championship game and see her for 0 for 12 in the game might have second thoughts. There were rumblings that Appel's injured ankle might require surgery and even if it doesn't, suitable rest for the ankle would seem to be in order.

If Minnesota doesn't want to wait on Appel, what do they do? Jacinta Monroe of Florida State is an intriguing prospect and a force on the defensive end but still a work in progression on the other end of the court. Nebraska's Kelsey Griffin had a brilliant senior season and is a versatile offensive player but at 6-foot-2, will she be able to match up defensively with WNBA centers?

It would seem like those would be the likely choices and then if Prince goes to Chicago with the fourth pick, which seems like a reasonable assumption on my part, that leaves the remaining two aforementioned post players with some wing players will differing red flags.

Andrea Riley is a dynamic offensive player but listed at 5-foot-5, she doesn't seem to fit anywhere but at point guard. At Oklahoma State Riley was asked the shoot and ask questions later but that approach won't fly on her WNBA team so it will be interesting to see where she lands.

UConn's Kalana Greene is a winner, in the last 86 games she played the Huskies are 86-0. She has drawn comparisons to another ex-Husky Ashley Battle for obvious reasons as both are high-energy, high-character kids who bring it on both ends of the floor. Greene has more offensive game than Battle and you could do a lot worse than add the intangibles that Greene possesses to a team.

Allison Hightower of LSU was in many people's opinions the best player in the Southeastern Conference and LSU coach Van Chancellor, who coached the Houston Comets to four straight WNBA titles, has been bending the ears of WNBA coaches and general managers touting her as a top-flight WNBA prospect. When I chatted about the draft with Connecticut head coach Mike Thibault, who handles all the personnel decision, I told him I am a huge Hightower fan and thinks she will be outstanding in the league.

Alysha Clark of Middle Tennessee is a scoring machine and unlike her MTSU predecessor Amber Holt (a first-round pick of the Sun in 2008) she won't need to make as many adjustments to her game to make it in the league. Clark did play a bit on the perimeter and that is where she will play professionally.

Alexis Gray-Lawson of California is another high-character kid who just led the Bears to the WNIT title. Gray-Lawson had some monster offensive games and is a refined enough of a prospect to make a smooth transition into the pro game. It

Amanda Thompson of Oklahoma is another multi-faceted offensive player whose game would seem to thrive at the next level.

Now the biggest wild card of all - Kansas' Danielle McCray. McCray was the second-leading scorer on the U.S. team which won the World University Games title and would have been a no-brainer top five pick if healthy. But McCray tore her ACL late in her senior season so it will be interesting to see who rolls the dice and is willing to wait a year for her. Thibault is a guy who has be known to gamble a bit in the draft but I'd be very surprised if he passed on a Greene, Clark, Hightower or Gray-Lawson to take McCray.

The draft starts at 3 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN2

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