Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese headline one of the most anticipated WNBA drafts in years


NEW YORK — Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, Cameron Brink and others make this one of the most anticipated WNBA drafts in recent years. There are several impact players up for grabs, but their talent is nearly eclipsed by their popularity among basketball fans.

“Caitlin is kind of in a world of her own, but I don’t know that we have seen this kind of excitement across the board,” ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo said. “You know, Angel Reese has a massive following. Cameron Brink has a large following of people, whether it’s following them on social media or following them throughout the course of their college career.

“We have women coming into the draft this year, who people are very much aware of and eager to see how their game is going to translate at this level.”

Clark has helped bring millions of new fans to the game with her signature logo shots and dazzling passing ability. The Iowa star was a big reason why a record 18.9 million viewers tuned in to the NCAA championship game where South Carolina beat the Hawkeyes.

The NCAA Division I all-time scoring leader will go first to the Indiana Fever on Monday night when the draft takes place at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in front of 1,000 fans.

“This is the first time we’re going to have fans at the draft, so I think that’s going to be special,” ESPN analyst Andraya Carter said. “For people watching at home to see and hear a crowd and fans and people there, I think it’ll be really exciting.”

While Clark is a lock to go first, Brink, Tennessee’s Rickea Jackson and South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso have all been in the discussion to be taken at No. 2 by Los Angeles. The Sparks also own the No. 4 pick with Chicago choosing third.

“They are foundational. They’re an incredible opportunity for our organization,” Sparks GM Raegan Pebley said. “We definitely want to see two players that not only have the skill set to make an impact early, but also a long runway ahead of them, opportunities to develop, opportunities to, not only be excellent in what they do, but how they impact the other pieces around them as we continue to build this team.”

Dallas is fifth and Washington sixth. Minnesota, Chicago, Dallas, Connecticut, New York and Atlanta close out the first round. In all, there are three rounds and 36 picks in total.

Here are a few other tidbits for the draft:

All-Americans Mackenzie Holmes of Indiana and Elizabeth Kitley of Virginia Tech won’t be able to play in the WNBA this season because of knee injuries. Holmes said on social media that she is having surgery next month.

“At this time to ensure my body is healthy and my playing career is as long and successful as possible, I have decided to get the necessary surgery in May to prevent further issues and alleviate the pain it has caused,” she said. “I have declared for the 2024 WNBA draft and pray that a team honors me with a selection knowing I will be ready for the start of 2025 training camp.”

Kitley tore the ACL in her left knee in Virginia Tech’s final regular season game and missed the entire postseason.

“Whenever you see any player go through an injury at any point in their career, but especially at that point, this special season that Virginia Tech was having. But I think she’s a player that has, I’ll use this word ‘track’ again,” Pebley said. “Just a lot of runway ahead of her. She’s going to, I think, have a great career with her versatility, her footwork abilities. And I think her impact around the rim.”

The WNBA invited 15 players to the draft Monday, including Clark, Reese, Brink, Jackson, Cardoso and Kitley. The others are Aliyah Edwards and Nika Muhl of UConn; Charisma Osborne of UCLA; Celeste Taylor and Jacy Sheldon of Ohio State; Alissa Pili of Utah; Marquesha Davis of Mississippi; Dyaisha Fair of Syracuse; and Nyadiew Puoch of Australia.

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AP WNBA: https://apnews.com/hub/wnba-basketball



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