The 2019 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm came and went on Wednesday night with the Indiana Fever playing a pivotal role. Indiana was one of the first teams to pick, selecting Mississippi State center Teaira McCowan at No. 3 overall. McCowan was dominant on both sides of the ball during her senior season in Starkville. She immediately becomes the tallest player on the current Indiana roster and the fourth 6-7 star ever to join the Fever.
“I kind of just blacked out,” said McCowan on the moment she heard her name called at the podium by NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum. “I looked at my mom and just stared at her for a second then hugged her. I went up on stage and was just excited to be coming to a team where they need a big and I can do that for them.”
Coming into Wednesday night, McCowan wasn’t sure which franchise she would wind up with by night’s end,
“This is all unexpected,” she says. “I didn’t know where I was going in the draft. I just knew that I was going to the draft and that was a high honor. There a lot of great players in this draft, so coming out as high as I did, I’m pretty thankful for that.”
McCowan led Mississippi State in scoring and rebounding last season, averaging 18.4 points and 13.5 rebounds per game while shooting 66.2 percent from the field. Her percentage was an MSU record and ranked fourth in the nation. Her 31 double-doubles in 2018-19 broke her own MSU record. She led the Southeastern Conference in rebounds and blocks.
Fever Vice President of Basketball Operations, Tamika Catchings, loves the intangibles McCowan brings to Indiana.
“There is one thing you can’t teach and that’s 6-7,” said Catchings. “Size is something we have struggled to have the last couple of years. Really excited about having Teaira McCowan as part of our franchise. I think she’ll be great here.”
Not only was Catchings impressed by the senior’s size, but also her development over four collegiate seasons at Mississippi State,
“Every year she has developed, every year she has gotten better and better,” said Catchings who has covered McCowan during broadcast assignments the past two years. “I think when you look at the pieces that we have, the players that we have on this team, adding someone with her size and just being able to do the little things defensively – I think that will really help everybody overall.”
After finishing last in the WNBA in rebounding last season, the need for more size and rebounding was becoming apparent for Indiana.
“We like some size,” said Fever head coach Pokey Chatman. “I think having that big actually help the Natalie Achonwas, the Candices [Dupree] not having to bang against some of that size. It was a really easy choice in terms of where the biggest hole was, we look at Teaira and she’s the best at rim protection, she’s top three in the country in rebounding percentages.”
“It was a nice marriage.”
A first-team All-American and a first-team Senior CLASS All-American, McCowan was named the WBCA Defensive Player of the Year and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year each of the past two seasons.
“The accolades speak for themselves,” said Fever head coach Pokey Chatman. “You think about the size, the mobility of that size, and someone who loves the defensive side of the basketball but then also can impact the offensive side of the basketball with her rebounding and deep positioning. She’s exactly what we needed.”
McCowan helped the Bulldogs to consecutive Final Fours in 2017 and 2018 alongside current Fever star Victoria Vivians who was selected with the eighth pick in the first round of last year’s draft.
“It’s going to be great,” said McCowan on being reunited with Vivians in Indiana. “I am sure she’ll have something up her sleeve when I get there.”
The Fever made two more selections on the night at picks No. 25 and No. 28. Indiana selected North Carolina guard Paris Kea with the first pick of the third round and Georgia forward Caliya Robinson just three selections later.
Kea is a 5-9 senior who averaged 17.3 points, 3.9 assists, and 1.9 assists per game for the Tar Heels. The guard was a two-time All-ACC First Team selection in 2018 and 2019. She ranks No. 2 in UNC history for career points per game (18.2).
Robinson is a 6-3 forward who spent four seasons as a Georgia Bulldog, making two All-SEC teams (First Team in 2019, Second Team in 2018) and three SEC All-Defensive teams (2017-2019). She averaged 14.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per contest during her final campaign in Athens. She collected over 200 rebounds in each of her final three collegiate seasons.
“We feel good about the picks,” said Chatman. “Obviously we were ecstatic with the opportunity to snag Teaira at No. 3. Then, without that second-round pick, we were happy that Paris was there. [Kea] is obviously a solid player as a one, can play the two, knows how to score… It’s a lot of things that check some boxes for her to push some people for a roster spot.”
After two consecutive drafts and being able to pick top talent, Chatman is excited about the young core Indiana is building,
“I like those anchors. I like the youth,” said the head coach. “I like the possibilities of how their games are mirroring where our game has come to with pace and space but also that size component.”
The 2019 WNBA Draft was another opportunity for the Fever to add another injection of young talent and Indiana looks to have done just that in selecting Teaira McCowan. The 6-7 center will look to have a big impact on the Fever for the upcoming season and seasons beyond as her game continues to grow.