2011 WNBA Draft Review

With two of the top four picks, including No. 1 overall, the Lynx were the stars of April's WNBA Draft. UConn's Maya Moore, of course, was selected with the first pick. Moore is the second straight University of Connecticut Husky to be chosen with the top pick (Tina Charles) and the fourth in ten years (Sue Bird, 2002 and Diana Taurasi, 2004). It wasn't all about the Lynx and Moore however, this solid draft class is loaded with talented players who should make the already deep 12-team league even more competitive in 2011.

As projected, Tulsa chose intriguing 6-8 center Elizabeth Cambage from Australia at No. 2. The 19-year-old Cambage is not expected to join the Shock anytime soon. She plans to stay in Australia and compete for her country in the 2012 London Olympics.

Courtney Vandersloot went next to Chicago with the 3rd pick. Most mock drafts projected the former Gonzaga point guard to go in the No. 5 through No. 9 range, so this selection qualified as a mild surprise. The three-time West Coast Conference regular season and tournament Player of the Year was the first woman in NCAA history to compile 2,000 points and 1,000 assists.

Back on the clock, the Lynx nabbed 6-5 forward Amber Harris from Xavier with the 4th pick, attained in a draft day deal with Connecticut in 2010. Harris should help fill the void left by Nicky Anosike's departure to Washington.

Candace Parker got some inside help when her Sparks snared 6-4 center Jantel Lavender at No. 5. Aside from Moore, Lavender may be the most decorated collegiate player in the draft. The former Ohio State star was a First Team All-American the past two seasons, won the Big Ten Player of the Year an unprecedented four times and finished as the conference's all time leading rebounder.

San Antonio's turn came next and they selected 5-9 point guard Danielle Robinson of Oklahoma with the 6th pick. Robinson could be the heir apparent to 34-year-old Becky Hammon. Tulsa went for more size at No. 7, using their additional first round pick on 6-4 forward Kayla Pedersen from Stanford.

Center Ta'Shia Phillips became the second Xavier star to be selected in the first round, going 8th overall to Atlanta. The Dream then sent Phillips, Rochester native Kelly Miller and their 2012 first round pick to Washington for former Lynx guard Lindsey Harding and a 2012 second round pick.

Stanford point guard Jeannette Pohlen, another First Team All-American, was nabbed by Indiana at No. 9, New York selected Georgia Tech swingperson Alex Montgomery in the 10th spot and Kentucky forward Victoria Dunlap went No. 11 to the Mystics. The defending champion Seattle Storm closed out the first round with Duke point guard Jasmine Thomas, who will have an opportunity to learn from All-Star Sue Bird.

While being drafted in the first round is the ultimate validation of a successful amateur career, it hardly guarantees long term success in the WNBA. Of the 14 players selected in the first round back in 2006, only five remain in the league entering 2011. Second-round picks meanwhile, will have to defy the odds and exceed expectations just to survive the training camp cut down. Each team is allowed only 11 players, including injuries, making available roster spots rare.

The Lynx opened the second round with a pair of choices, selecting forwards Jessica Breland from North Carolina and DePaul's Felicia Chester. In prearranged trades, Breland was sent to New York for St. Paul native and former Marquette star Angel Robinson (the 22nd pick) and Chester was dealt to Atlanta for Australian Rachel Jarry (No. 18 overall). Robinson, a point guard, will get a shot at backing up Lindsay Whalen, while the 19-year-old Jarry likely won't come stateside until 2013. Both deals also netted the Lynx future second-round picks.

Other notable second rounders include guard Sydney Colson (No. 16 by Conneticut) and forward Danielle Adams (No. 20 by San Antonio) of the National Champion Texas A&M Aggies. With the 19th pick, Phoenix nabbed Colorado forward Brittany Spears, whose name is sure to attract attention if she makes the team. Carolyn Swords (No. 15, Chicago) and Karima Christmas (No. 23, Washington) also qualify as candidates to the All-Name Team.

Although the third round has produced a few standout players like the Lynx Charde Houston, the chances of a third rounder making a WNBA roster is slim. Minnesota used their selection (26th overall) on former Benilde-St. Margaret's star Kachine Alexander of Iowa, while Duke's Krystal Thomas garnered the distinction of being the 36th, and final, player chosen by Seattle.

With another draft in the books, the Lynx roster is among the most impressive in the league. They currently have two former No. 1 overall selections (Moore, Augustus), a No. 2 (Monica Wright), a No. 3 (Candice Wiggins), three No. 4s (Harris, Alexis Hornbuckle and Whalen) and a trio of former All-Stars (Rebekkah Brunson, Taj McWilliams and Houston). It will be up to head coach Cheryl Reeve to blend this individual talent into a winning team. It should be fun to watch.