Top WNBA Draft Candidates for 2018

Who will be the top picks in the 2018 draft and who will Indiana executives Kelly Krauskopf and Pokey Chatman look at with their 2018 lottery pick? Certainly, a Las Vegas selection with the No. 1 pick will factor into Indiana’s decision at No. 2.

With the college season at its midway point, here is a primitive list of potential top college seniors, with a more detailed guess at the top picks.

Roster of Possible Top Draft Candidates:
* Shown in alphabetical order

Player Position Height School PPG RPG APG/BPG
Monique Billings Forward 6-4 UCLA 16.7 10.5 1.9bpg
Lexie Brown Guard 5-9 Duke 18.2 3.7 3.9apg
Jordin Canada Point Guard 5-6 UCLA 17.8 5.2 7.1apg
Diamond DeShields Guard 6-1 + Tennessee/Turkey 17.4 6.4 3.8apg
Kaylee Jensen Center 6-4 Oklahoma State 18.7 10.5 1.6bpg
Teaira McCowan (Jr) Center 6-7 Mississippi State 8.7 7.1 1.5bpg
Kelsey Mitchell Guard 5-8 Ohio State 22.6 2.8 3.9apg
Jaime Nared Forward 6-2 Tennessee 15.6 6.9 1.7apg
Mercedes Russell Center 6-6 Tennessee 16.1 9.7 1.4bpg
Azurá Stevens (Jr) Forward 6-6 Connecticut *18.9 *9.6 *2.1bpg
Victoria Vivians Guard 6-1 Mississippi State 16.2 4.2 1.5apg
Gabby Williams Forward 5-11 Connecticut 14.3 8.4 5.1apg/1.4bpg
A’Ja Wilson Center 6-5 South Carolina 17.9 7.8 2.6bpg
Jr – players draft-eligible after junior season due to four completed years of college eligibility
* statistics from 2016 at Duke, prior to transfer to UConn
+ DeShields announced in July she would forego her senior season at Tennessee

Jordin Canada
Point GuardUCLASenior

Canada is likely regarded as the country’s top senior point guard this season, boasting averages of 17.8 points and 7.1 assists last season while leading UCLA to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. A Los Angeles native, Canada ranked ninth in the NCAA in assists last season, and will enter her senior season ranked second among active players in career assists. An All-Pac-12 and honorable mention All-America pick last year, she was named to the Pac-12’s All-Defense Team. She finished second in the Pac-12 in steals and assists last year, and has been a three-year starter for the Bruins, averaging double-digit scoring each season.

Diamond DeShields
GuardTennessee/Turkeypro contract

Rather curiously, one mock draft site already had the former Volunteers’ star listed as going to Indiana with the third pick in the 2018 draft. That was before the draft order was actually assigned though, and before DeShields chose to forego her senior year at UT. DeShields was draft-eligible after her junior year due to an earlier transfer from North Carolina, but announced her intention to return to Tennessee. Then, in a stunning development last summer, she announced she would forego her senior season and turn pro, opting to sign an overseas deal with Cukurova in Turkey. The 6-1 guard is the sister of professional baseball player Delino DeShields, Jr., and the daughter of former MLB star Delino DeShields, Sr. Diamond led UT with 17.4 points per game during her junior campaign at UT, and posted an average of 15.7 over two seasons at UT.

Kelsey Mitchell
GuardOhio StateSenior

Draft-eligible last season due to turning 22 in 2017, Mitchell chose to return to the Buckeyes’ program for her senior campaign. She is the third-leading scorer in program history, averaging better than 22 points per game every year since her freshman season. She ranked ninth in the nation in scoring as a junior (22.6), third as a sophomore (26.1) and first as a freshman (24.9). A three-time All-American and two-time Big Ten Player of the Year, Mitchell enters her senior season as the nation’s leading active scorer (2,553 points), 975 points from breaking the NCAA scoring record set by Kelsey Plum last spring.

Mercedes Russell

Russell’s game has blossomed late in her college career and she averaged 16.1 points per game as a junior, with 9.7 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. She hit 56.2 shots from the field and has gotten physically stronger since arriving on campus in Knoxville. She led the SEC in double-doubles last season with 19, the most ever by a UT junior. A native of Springfield, Ore., she had surgery on both her feet following her freshman year in 2014. She missed the 2014-15 college season and was draft-eligible in 2017 as a redshirt junior.

Azurá Stevens
ForwardConnecticutJunior (draft eligible)

Stevens has two years eligibility remaining at UConn after transferring from Duke following her sophomore season in 2016. Her versatility at 6-6 is perhaps best represented by the fact she is listed as a forward/guard on the UConn roster. Stevens led Duke with 18.9 points and 9.6 boards two seasons ago. If she declares for the draft at season’s end, she could be a top five selection.

Gabby Williams

Williams is one of the NCAA’s best all-around talents, impacting a game on both ends of the floor. She is a small forward who slashes to the tune of 14.3 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, but also distributes the ball and affects shots. A native of Sparks, Nev., she was a first-team All-American as a junior and was named the WBCA National Defensive Player of the Year. She shot 58 percent from the floor last season and recorded the fifth triple-double in UConn history with 16 points, 16 boards and 10 assists in a win at East Carolina.

A’Ja Wilson
CenterSouth CarolinaSenior

The most outstanding player in the 2017 NCAA Final Four while leading the Gamecocks to their first national title, Wilson’s 6-5 versatility in the post could lead her to becoming the WNBA’s first pick in 2018. She is a very athletic post player and a rim protector. She shot 59 percent from the floor last seasons and has averaged nearly a double-double the past two seasons. She averaged 17.9 points and 7.8 rebounds as a junior, and pulled down nearly nine boards per game as a sophomore. She is vying to become the first player ever to be named SEC player of the year in three consecutive seasons.