Names to know in 2011 WNBA draft
The WNBA is heading into its 15th season, and this year's draft is full of talent. Come April 11, dreams will come true and teams will reload as they get ready to tip off in June. Here are 15 of the WNBA's top prospects who hope to solidify their spot on an 11-player roster.
Note: The players are listed alphabetically, not by potential draft order.
Danielle Adams, F/C, Texas A&M
As the first All-American in Texas A&M history, Danielle Adams is a strong, undersized post player with guard-like skills. Adams has a strong face-up game with 3-point range, making her tough to defend. Her speed and fitness will have to improve. The pace of the game in the WNBA is a step up from college and her ability to compete endline to endline will affect where she goes in the draft. However, there is no question that Adams has strong scoring ability and all the right tools to make an impact.
Jessica Breland, F, North Carolina
Known for dominating on the defensive end, Jessica Breland is a shot-blocking specialist with an extreme amount of potential. Her long arms and impeccable timing make it almost impossible to score against her in the paint. At 6-foot-3, Breland is an agile post player with the speed to defend on the perimeter. Breland has the ability to score but is not consistent. She needs to work on her offensive skills to become more reliable.
Liz Cambage, C, Australia
Liz Cambage is a 6-8 center who has competed on the international stage for Australia since the 2008 season. After having a breakout performance at the 2010 FIBA World Championship, players and coaches from around the league were left buzzing about the 19-year-old's skill level. The WNBA is fawning over size, which gives Cambage an opportunity to come in and play a major role. She will need to build her strength and work on her agility and speed, but she has all the right tools to be able to dominate in the post, much like a fellow Aussie, Lauren Jackson.
Victoria Dunlap, F, Kentucky
As a two-time SEC Player of the Year, Victoria Dunlap can fill up the stat sheet. In her senior season, Dunlap led the SEC in scoring, field goal percentage and steals. Her intensity on defense and aggressiveness on offense has made Dunlap one of the best all-around athletes in the draft. She needs to work on her range and get more comfortable with her 3-point shot.
Dawn Evans, PG, James Madison
Dawn Evans is a small point guard capable of making big plays. As the third leading scorer in the nation her senior year (23.1), Evans has proven her great scoring ability. Her range extends beyond the 3-point line and a quick first step allows her to drive past any defender. Although Evans is a pure shooter, she does an exceptional job at finding her teammates and creating plays. Her height will be a concern and may drop her down a few slots in the draft.
Amber Harris, F, Xavier
Standing 6-5, Amber Harris has the build to go toe-to-toe with any of the league's premier post players. A lot of elements in her game are reminiscent of Lisa Leslie's ability to combine finesse with power. Harris can handle the ball and convert from almost anywhere on the floor. Her long arms and quick feet make her a great defender and shot-blocker. She has the drive and the potential to have a successful career in the WNBA.
Jantel Lavender, C, Ohio State
As the only four-time Big 10 Player of the Year, Jantel Lavender has been one of the nation's top post players for the past three years. She leaves Ohio State as its all-time leading scorer (2,818) and the Big Ten's all-time leading rebounder (1,422). She knows how to get great position inside and has a great knack for scoring on the low block. Her ability to run the floor and face up makes her multidimensional and tougher to stop. Lavender has the determination and skills to be a huge threat at the next level.
Maya Moore, F, UConn
Women's basketball hasn't seen a player quite like Maya Moore. As the most highly decorated player in the draft, Moore has the strength to play in the post and the quickness to beat guards on the perimeter. Her versatility and ability to score at will makes her a tough matchup. However, her fierce competitiveness is what separates her from the pack. She will need to work on her ballhandling and individual defensive skills, but look for her to make an immediate impact. As the only collegiate athlete to compete for the U.S. at the 2010 FIBA World Championships, Moore has already proven she can be successful at the next level.
Kayla Pedersen, F, Stanford
Kayla Pedersen may be the most versatile power forward in the draft. At 6-4, Pedersen can play all five positions on the court. She has the height and build to dominate on the block and the skills to convert from the perimeter. As the all-time leader in rebounds in the Pac-10, Pedersen is relentless on the boards. You won't find too many players who have the physical presence that she brings to the court with the kind of passing ability that she possesses. Pedersen needs to work on her lateral quickness to be able to defend quicker perimeter players in the league.
Ta'Shia Phillips, C, Xavier
Ranking second in the nation with an average of 12.4 rebounds per game, Ta'Shia Phillips is a double-double machine. At 6-6, Phillips has the size to bang with the best. Despite the physical presence that she brings to the court, Phillips has a rare set of skills that make her an efficient scorer in the post. Mostly praised for her rebounding, Phillips is a player who can dominate both ends of the court and fill any voids teams may have in the frontcourt. The biggest concern surrounding Phillips is her speed. She needs to be able to defend agile post players, so working on her quickness will be important.
Jeanette Pohlen, G, Stanford
Jeanette Pohlen is a combination guard with a scouting report that reads simply, "Do not leave open." She has the skills of a point guard with the mindset of a shooting guard. Pohlen is absolutely lethal from 3-point range, shooting more than 40 percent her senior year at Stanford. She has a quick release and needs very little room to get her shot off. Her great passing ability and outstanding decision-making adds to her versatility.
Danielle Robinson, G, Oklahoma
Danielle Robinson is a quick and explosive guard who is exceptional at finishing at the rim. Her ability to penetrate and draw the defense allows her to set up her teammates and create plays. With lightning-quick speed, great ballhandling and strong passing abilities, Robinson is almost impossible to stop in transition. Heading into the WNBA season, Robinson needs to work on her range and pull-up jumper. After attempting fewer than 40 3-pointers in her career at Oklahoma, she will need to develop an outside game in order to be successful.
Carolyn Swords, C, Boston College
Carolyn Swords is a 6-6 center with good footwork and a nice touch on the inside. She is strong with the ball and can finish with both hands in the paint. As the No. 1 all-time rebounder (1,159) and No. 1 in blocks (171) at Boston College, Sword is a beast on the inside. She is not very comfortable on the perimeter, so developing an outside shot could increase her stock. But with more experience, Swords has the work ethic to develop into a key player in the WNBA.
Jasmine Thomas, G, Duke
Jasmine Thomas is a solid point guard with great scoring ability. As the eighth player in Duke women's basketball history to notch more than 1,000 points, 300 rebounds, 300 assists and 200 steals in a career, Thomas has a unique combination of skills that make her a complete player. Her ability to blow by you off the dribble combined with her deep range makes her a dangerous scorer. Not only can she create shots for herself, but she can put her teammates in position to score. As a tough-nosed defender, Thomas' skills don't stop on the offensive end. She has quick hands and the athleticism to force turnovers and set the tone on defense.
Courtney Vandersloot, PG, Gonzaga
Courtney Vandersloot is an all-around true point guard. As the first Division I athlete to amass 2,000 points and 1,000 assists, she does an excellent job creating and making plays not only for herself but her teammates. She can push the ball in transition, knock down the 3 or beat you off the dribble. For the next level, she needs to work on her pull-up jumper and build up her strength. But as a true floor general, Vandersloot has the right combination of skills that will rival some of the best point guards in the league.
Ashly Robinson is a Digital Media Associate at ESPN
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