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It seems a bit drafty...

Posted by Alex W.C. on 1:50 PM
In the first major event of the WNBA 2011 season, the Draft this year was not so much full of surprises, but quite full of talent. After major upsets of the three dominant women’s basketball programs, Tennesee, Stanford and UConn, choosing a rookie got a little tougher after the championship game, where A&M’s Aggies took home the trophy for the first time. Many a team threw around names, but nothing could be confirmed until draft day, even the quite inevitable #1 pick of UConn superstar Maya Moore.

Now, the Draft is over, players have been chosen and several trades have been made. The WNBA season is still several weeks away, but a lot can happen before the season tips off. Training camp rosters are swelling with talent, but in the next few weeks, difficult choices will have to be made as to whose name will be on the permanent roster. Even contracted players could be traded; nothing we haven’t seen before.

I’m not quite sure what I anticipate more; the Draft itself, or the aftermath that follows. Both can be equally entertaining.

As the Draft came in three lengthy rounds, I’m mainly going to focus on the top 12 picks. Each pick will be listed with multiple links to interviews, and other post draft day hoopla.

Number one – Maya Moore to the Minnesota Lynx.
Absolutely. No. Surprise.
Just as in years past, the Sparks picked Candace Parker, the Mercury picked Diana Taurasi, and the Storm picked Lauren Jackson, Maya Moore at the number one pick was inevitable. Yes, coach Cheryl Reeve hinted, teased and even at times taunted the media with what she already knew was going to happen, but that’s one of the fun privileges of being a coach, no? Maya even got a tour of the Target Center in Minnesota prior to the Draft, courtesy of Minnesota Timberwolves resident double-double king, Kevin Love.

Lynx Pick Maya Moore
Maya Moore post draft video
One Day with Maya Moore

You think they talked about basketball?

Number two – Liz Cambage to the Tulsa Shock.
As this was not a stunner as well, there was a bit of speculation leading up to the Draft. As I reported on my previous blog posts, Liz was quoted as not having the desire to play in Tulsa. However, closer to Draft day, she explained how she felt misquoted, and would be happy to go anywhere she was Drafted. Following the Draft, she exchanged signed jerseys with Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant.

Hmm, two Kevin’s welcoming in the top two picks? What are the odds?

Liz Cambage meets the press in Tulsa.
Liz Cambage meets OKC Thunder Kevin Durant
Liz Cambage draft day diary.
Liz Cambage post draft video

Number three – Courtney Vandersloot to the Chicago Sky.
This was a bit of a surprise to many, but also one that did make sense. Vandersloot proved her value to her Zags, showcasing her superior point guard abilities of passing and scoring in the NCAA 2011 tournament. Having her come off the bench can increase the chances of success for the Sky, while she plays alongside standouts Sylvia Fowles and Epiphanny Prince, It would seem that new coach Pokey Chatman has a plan for her team this season.

But actually, Vandersloot being selected at number three made more than just Chicago happy.

Getting to know Courtney Vandersloot
Coutrney Vandersloot post draft video
Courtney Vandersloot's draft day blog
Q&A with Courtney Vandersloot

Number four – Amber Harris to the Minnesota Lynx.
Many predicted that Amber Harris would go to the Sky with the number three pick, but when Vandersloot was chosen, it was a bit of a game changer. I heard that when Chicago made their pick, there was much excitement in the Minnesota Lynx war room, as the number four pick became a much easier selection. Needless to say it was unexpected, but the Lynx didn’t seem to mind one bit.

Amber Harris post draft video
Lynx press release: Amber Harris
Amber Harris dunk!

Number five - Jantel Lavender to the Los Angeles Sparks.
This 6’4” center was predicted to be gone by the time the Sparks had their pick, even though many also pointed out how she would work well into the team. With Harris and Vandersloot being taken of the board, that left Lavender available, and L.A. was quick to grab her.

Janel Lavender: Five questions
Janel Lavender - Draft highlights
Janel Lavender post draft video

Number six – Danielle Robinson to the San Antonio Silver Stars.
Touted as one of the top point guards in this draft, mainly because of her speed and passing ability, Danielle joins a team heavy with veteran presence. With two notable team members with point guard experience (Becky Hammon and Tully Bevilaqua), Robinson has a great opportunity to thrive under coach Dan Huges.

Danielle Robinson post draft video
One-on-One with Danielle Robinson
Robinson going to San Antonio

Number seven - Kayla Pedersen to the Tulsa Shock.
Versatility; it’s what the Shock got with their second pick in the draft. Even though she will likely play the three or the four spot, she can easily be moved around. Perimeter or post – pick your poison.

Shock select Kayla Pedersen
Kayla Pedersen post draft video
Kayla Pedersen - The next "Larry Bird" for the Tulsa Shock?

Number eight - Ta'Shia Phillips to the Atlanta Dream.
It’s not like the Dream are lacking in the size area, with Bales, de Souza and Leuchanka on the roster. However, adding a 6’6” rookie to come off the bench is not a bad thing either. No doubt, picking her up means the focus is on rebounding and defense. Well, that’s what it seemed to be...until...(what would a draft day be without a trade?)

Phillips heads to Washington
Ta'Shia Phillips post draft video
Ta'Shia Phillips traded to Mystics

Number nine - Jeanette Pohlen to the Indiana Fever.
What is it about Standford players that make them so versatile? Much like her former teammate Pedersen, Pohlen will be a welcomed backup to either point guard January or shooting guard Douglas. With her size and shooting ability, there aren't many areas on the court where she won’t contribute.

Jeanette Pohlen post draft video
Fever Otps for Versatility in Pohlen
Pohlen Selected in First Round

Number ten - Alex Montgomery to the New York Liberty.

Quick and defensive; that is what new Liberty head coach John Whisenant wanted. This 6’1” guard named to the 2011 ACC All-Defensive Team might be exactly what he was looking for.

Alex Montgomery stats
Georgia Tech routs Washington
2011 draft prospects

Number eleven - Victoria Dunlap to the Washington Mystics.
With Monique Curry possibly out for the season, the Mystics needed some depth on the bench. This SEC Overall player and Defensive player of the year is looking to do just that. With a healthy Alana Beard coming back, the Mystics are obviously looking for players to help them find redemption this post season.

Victoria Dunlap post draft video
Trudi Lacey on Dunlap
John Wall on Dunlap

Number twelve - Jasmine Thomas to the Seattle Storm.
Playing both the point and two guard spot with ease, Thomas is likely to nicely compliment the Bird/Jackson/Cash trio in Seattle. Coach Agler was not intending to pick Thomas, thinking that she would no longer be available at the number twelve spot. Careful what you wish for, right?

Storm Reunites Thomases in Draft
Jasmine Thomas on the Storm roster
Storm selects Duke guard

But what would a draft day be without a few trades?

Most noteworthy would be the draft day trade of Lindsey Harding & a 2012 second round draft pick to the Atlanta Dream in exchange for the Ta’Shia Phillips, Kelly Miller & a 2012 first round draft pick. Nothing like getting drafted then getting traded before you can even try on your draft day jersey, eh Ta'Shia?

The Liberty were also busy making trades, one for the Lynx's Jessica Breland in exchange for Angel Robinson & a second round pick - then a second for the Sun's Sydney Colson in exchange for Kalana Greene.

Since draft day there have been over a dozen transactions, check them out here.

Training camp for most teams starts within a few weeks, giving little time to players on training camp contracts to prove themselves and get a spot on a permanent roster. The WNBA currently has thirteen pre-season games scheduled.

What will be will be...on June 3rd.

On another note - I will be on hiatus for a few weeks as I finish my book 13 teams; One Man's Journey with the WNBA. Due out in June - stay tuned!!

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