Vegas, Baby

On April 10, the WNBA world converged at the Nike headquarters in New York City for the 2019 WNBA Draft. Following an exhilarating NCAA Women's Tournament, the stage was set for coaches, players and fans to see some of the game's best move up to the professional level.

The Las Vegas Aces were lucky enough to have the first overall pick for the third year in a row. With that pick, Vegas selected Notre Dame junior Jackie Young. Young was an absolute star in college, averaging 14.3 points per game in her third and final season with the Fighting Irish. While Young is certainly a prolific scorer, her real value becomes much more evident when looking at other statistics. Though just six feet tall, Young managed to grab a tremendous seven rebounds a game, which is significantly higher than most other guards. Young also dished out 5.2 assists per game. Clearly, Vegas will benefit in a number of ways from picking Young first overall.

Though the Aces finished last season 14- 20, they are still a very young team that will only continue to rise up in the league as their young talent begins to mesh. The addition of Young will help expedite this process, and Vegas should find themselves contending in the playoffs within the next two or three seasons.

The second pick in the draft was awarded to the New York Liberty. Much like the Aces, the Liberty struggled last season, finishing the year with a lowly 7-27 record. New York needed to make the most of the second pick in order to start successfully rebuilding. They did just that by selecting Asia Durr, a senior from Louisville.

A former First-Team All-American, Durr will undoubtedly provide the Liberty with the youthful scoring punch they need to return to relevancy in the league. Throughout her four years at Louisville, Durr averaged a whopping 17.8 points per game. Her real calling card, though, is her shooting efficiency. Durr finished her Louisville career with an impressive .435 field goal percentage, which is especially solid considering the fact that she is a 5'10 guard.

To round out the top five, the next three picks in the draft were occupied by the Indiana Fever, Chicago Sky and Dallas Wings, respectively. The Fever, who finished with the worst record in the WNBA last season at 6-28, got extremely unlucky and fell out of the top two picks. Still, due to the depth of talent in this year's draft, Indiana managed to add some much needed size and strength to their team by selecting Teaira McCowan with the third overall pick. At 6'7, McCowan is a beast on both sides of the floor. The Mississippi State product averaged 18.4 points per game and 2.4 blocks per game her senior year, and will definitely be immediately productive for the Fever as they look to rebuild over the next few seasons.

The Sky were arguably the best team to miss the playoffs last season, although they finished with just a 13-21 record. Chicago ended up taking guard Katie Lou Samuelson with the fourth pick. The UConn star was utterly dominant throughout her four years with the program, averaging an astounding 16.7 points per game over the course of her career. Samuelson will bring an immediate scoring punch to Chicago and aid in their quest to make it back to the playoffs next season.

Dallas was the only playoff team to crack the top five in the draft this year. That being said, the Wings were also the only playoff team to finish below .500 last season, ending up at 15-19. What Dallas needs more than anything is a superstar. They need someone who they can rely on to hit shots in big spots. That need was certainly filled with the selection of Arike Ogunbowale. The second Notre Dame player to be picked in the top five, Ogunbowale definitely has a knack for knocking down clutch shots. She hit game-winning buzzer beaters in the Final Four and the National Championship in 2018, and she was been a source of consistent scoring for the Fighting Irish throughout her time there.

It will be interesting to see how these five teams fare heading into this WNBA season. Fans and front offices are certainly hopeful that these picks will pan out over the next couple of seasons.

Contact Ethan Marchetti at emarchetti@colgate.edu.

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