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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Decisions to be made for Connecticut Sun

A knee injury ended Keisha Hampton's career at
DePaul in January but she could be a steal for
somebody in the WNBA draft.
(photo courtesy of USA Basketball)

If Connecticut Sun coach Mike Thibault has his way he would find a team willing to part with a first-round pick in either the 2013 or 2014 WNBA drafts in exchange for the No. 9 pick in Monday's draft.

However next year's draft is being touted as one of the most talented groups in recent memory and teams aren't willing to give away their No. 1 picks and perhaps miss out on the chance to draft a Brittney Griner, Skylar Diggins, Elena Delle Donne or another one of the top pro prospects. On Thursday Thibault suggested that trading for a first rounder in the 2014 draft is still a possibility.

"I would even take one the following year if we could do that but because of the way our rules are," Thibault said, "I don't think I could do that until draft day so we can't do two years down the road now but we can do it at the conclusion of the draft. We could draft for somebody else at nine and then make a trade for somebody else after the draft for two years down the road."

The issue Thibault and the Sun is facing is perhaps drafting a player in the first round not good enough to make the squad.

"That is the question of the day," Thibault said. "I am not sure if there is. There are good players but us being as young as we've been it is hard for me to envision (the player being there at No. 9). I could be wrong but I don't know if one of the players who is going to be there is better than who we have. Part of it is just based on experience, you come to training camp and a veteran player is going to know how to beat out a younger player. I don't know right now. We have been sitting here trying to rank the players and decide who is going to be there. Nobody in the league can kind of predict the order of the draft at this point. There are too many people at the top who aren't even sure what they are going to do right now.

"Usually I can predict the draft within range of the first seven to nine players. Some of those five or six might be flip flopped but I can pretty much tell. I am pretty sure of five players who are going to do in the top seven but after that it is kind of like a need of a team, it is almost like a beauty pageant in the sense that what looks good to one team doesn't look the same to another team."

Stanford's Nneka Ogwumike is expected to be taken by Los Angeles with the No. 1 overall pick. Miami's Shenise Johnson, the Tennessee duo of Glory Johnson and Shekinna Stricklen and Ohio State's Samantha Prahalis seem to be the prospects most likely to do in the top five.

If the Sun is unable to swing a trade what would it be looking for?
Maryland's Lynetta Kizer could be a
player the Connecticut Sun could look at
 with No. 9 pick in Monday's WNBA draft.
(photo courtesy of USA Basketball)

"The first thought is we draft somebody who we can at least give a chance to make the team, post or otherwise," Thibault said. "Certainly we are not in the market for a point guard. A wing player it would have to be something pretty unique or special, somebody who can play a couple of positions maybe. Post makes the most sense because you at least give somebody a fighting chance at that position to maybe make the team. If you do that, if you end up having a young post player make your team than you are probably going to strip yourselves of some depth somewhere else, you are not keeping a third point guard or you are not keeping one extra wing who can do something specific, that is kind of the debate.

"If we can trade up into the first couple of picks we would consider that but I don't see that happening right now but it is something we would consider."

Notre Dame's Devereaux Peters is another post player expected to be off the board by the time Connecticut is on the clock so that would leave posts like North Carolina's Chay Shegog, Maryland's Lynetta Kizer, Cierra Bravard of Florida State and Georgia Tech's Sasha Goodlett as possible options. The good news is that all four played in the ACC so it's a little easier to watch film of them playing against each other and similar competition. Thibault is no stranger to grabbing foreign players so maybe he could nab Brazil's Damaris Dantas and wait on her to come over to the U.S. or former DePaul forward Keisha Hampton. Hampton is a first-round talent but saw her college career end with a knee injury in January. If she is not completely healed in time for the start of the WNBA season, the Sun could wait to sign her until next year like they did with former first round pick Danielle McCray.

If the Sun opt to draft a wing it will be interesting to see if UConn's Tiffany Hayes or Notre Dame's Natalie Novosel are available when they make their pick.

The draft is Monday beginning at 2 p.m. and will be conducted from ESPN headquarters in Bristol for the second year in a row.

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