March 12, 2024 

2024 WNBA Draft prospects impress at SEC Tournament

Rickea Jackson, Kamilla Cardoso, among standout performers in Greenville

GREENVILLE, S.C. — The NCAA Tournament is fast approaching and the 2024 WNBA Draft is less than two months away. This past weekend, The Next was on the ground at the SEC Tournament to get an up-close look at a trio of projected Top-10 WNBA Draft picks, along with a pair of sleepers whose names you should know.

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Let’s unload the notebook from a plethora of eventful showdowns between WNBA hopefuls.

Kamilla Cardoso

South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso had a weekend to remember at the SEC Tournament, marked by a buzzer-beating three-pointer against Tennessee in the SEC Semifinals to save the Gamecocks’ undefeated season and a ‘fighting ejection’ in the final five minutes of the SEC Championship. 

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Nonetheless, the 6’7 center showcased an impressive weekend in front of WNBA scouts, averaging 12.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks on 64.8% true shooting in 26 minutes per game.

Cardoso’s rim defense was crucial in the first quarter of the SEC Championship against LSU’s Angel Reese. She limited the Tigers’ athletic big to 2-of-6 shooting from the field and impressively blocked Reese’s shot twice on the same possession. On another possession earlier in the quarter, Cardoso contested Reese’s shot at the rim on an elbow-extended drive and ran the floor hard for an easy layup on the other end. Simply put, these are outlier movement skills for someone of her size.

On the contrary, questions remain about Cardoso’s consistency as a finisher. This season, she’s shooting 56% at the rim in the half-court, which is low compared to past center prospects who were 6’6 or taller.

Rickea Jackson

Rickea Jackson’s second half against South Carolina in the SEC Tournament Semifinals was one of the best performances of any 2024 WNBA Draft prospect this season. She scored 19 of her 22 points over the final 20 minutes, paired with six rebounds and four assists — including a wild skip pass to the weakside corner shooter.

While Jackson’s scoring prowess is well-known, her potential to be a quality contributor for a WNBA contender likely hinges on her buy-in as a defender. Although there were moments in the SEC Tournament where the Tennessee combo forward seemed disengaged (understandably, given her usage), she did show glimpses of defensive upside.

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Angel Reese

LSU’s Angel Reese is a tricky evaluation. Given her burst, length and portability as a defender, it’s easy to buy into her upside. However, she’s an inconsistent finisher who is dependent on grabbing her own offensive rebounds. She also has a way to go as a shooter.

Reese averaged 18.0 points, 13.7 rebounds (5.7 offensive rebounds), and 1.7 assists on a measly 47.3% true shooting in the tournament. Reese’s scoop-finishing technique resembles Diamond Miller, her former Maryland teammate selected as the No. 2 pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft. This similarity prompted questions regarding Miller’s draft profile last season.

According to Synergy Sports, the LSU big converts 46.4% of her attempts at the rim in the half-court while also making only 50% of her putbacks.

Additionally, Reese knocked down a pair of mid-range jumpers between LSU’s wins against Auburn in the Quarterfinals and Mississippi in the Semifinals. She still hesitates for a few seconds after catching the ball, but there have been subtle improvements nonetheless.

Overall, Reese could benefit from returning to LSU next season to continue building on improvement areas, like her spot-up shooting and finishing, yet she’s a lock to be chosen in the first round regardless.

Leilani Correa

Florida’s Leilani Correa has flown under the radar as a prospect with virtually zero mention across mainstream draft boards. However, the 6’ wing made significant growth in her final collegiate season, posting averages of 17.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.3 steals on 40% shooting from the field. Correa’s performance earned her the SEC Sixth Woman of the Year award and a spot on the All-SEC second team as voted by the conference’s 14 coaches.

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In Florida’s opening game of the SEC Tournament against Missouri, she scored a team-high 15 points, three assists, and three rebounds on 7-of-12 shooting from the field in their 66-60 win. However, Correa struggled to find a rhythm in Florida’s 62-59 win over Vanderbilt, managing only three points on 16.7% shooting from the field.

She followed this up with a solid showing in Florida’s narrow loss to Mississippi in the quarterfinals, adding 18 points, nine rebounds, and three assists on 40% shooting from the field. 

Surprisingly, Correa only averaged 2.3 3-point attempts across three games in the tournament while shooting 14.3% from deep. Across this season, Correa shot 40.3% on catch-and-shoot 3s while excelling as a cutter, ranking into the 95th percentile nationally (1.4 points per possession), per Synergy Sports. Her ability to shoot will be crucial to securing a spot on an opening-day WNBA roster and establishing herself in the league.

“That’s one of the best parts about my game,” Correa told The Next. “I love to move without the ball, so my teammates have clear [passing windows] for me. I’m good at reading my defenders, and when they aren’t looking, I’m backdooring or [lifting] up for the ball.”

Correa’s off-ball movement and 3-point spacing, paired with W-level athleticism and length, make her an intriguing prospect for teams in the second and third rounds.

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Marquesha Davis

Akin to Correa, Mississippi’s Marquesha Davis is one of the SEC’s most improved players in 2024. She improved her scoring average (10.5 to 14.6) and upped her assist rate (7.9% to 10.7%) while also lowering her turnover rate (13.7% to 10.3%).

That’s without mentioning the most enticing aspect of Davis’ prospect: her defensive versatility. At 6’ with good length, lateral quickness, and elite vertical bounce, she’s among the best wing defenders in the country. 

For reference, she is one of six high-major players (min. 25 minutes per game) who post a 2.5% steal rate and 2% block rate and average less than two fouls per game, per Her Hoop Stats.

Given that Davis projects as an off-ball connector at the WNBA level, her shooting struggles (23.9% from 3 and 68.8% from the free-throw line) raise many concerns. Despite this, she’s an enticing upside swing outside of the Top 10 WNBA Draft picks.

Written by Hunter Cruse

Hunter Cruse covers the Atlanta Dream and the WNBA Draft for The Next.

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