April 11, 2022 

Daily Briefing — April 11, 2022: Welcome to Draft Day

And the transfer carousel is not slowing down

It’s Monday, I’m sorry. Welcome to The Next’s Daily Weekly Briefing, featuring the W Roundup, daily Watch List, and NCAA Roundup. (Editor’s note: we return to daily for TDB when the W season begins.) There is no college basketball, but there’s a lot of college players in the news. Thirty-six more of them will make headlines tonight in the 2022 WNBA Draft, with the Washington Mystics Atlanta Dream on the clock. The team says it already knows who it’s taking — will it still take all 10 minutes to make the pick? (Spoiler alert: yes.)

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But first: I ranked and wrote 8,500 words in-depth on every player worth drafting for our draft board. And our beat writers previewed the night for Indiana and Minnesota (pre-trade), while here’s the Seattle preview from our beat (me): the Storm will not pick anyone with a chance of sniffing the opening-day roster unless someone like Mya Hollingshed or Nia Clouden or Khayla Pointer magically falls into their lap.

W Roundup

Atlanta, Washington: The Mystics traded the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft to the Dream for the Nos. 3 and 14 picks this year and a pick swap with the Los Angeles first-rounder next year. (Essentially, Washington gets the first-rounder of whoever does worse, itself or the Sparks; the Dream get the other pick.) Some quick takeaways for Washington:

  • Head coach/general manager Mike Thibault wants Shakira Austin/Kierstan Bell/maybe Emily Engstler and chance at Boston more than Rhyne Howard (or maybe NaLyssa Smith).
  • The Mystics are building for a post-Elena Delle Donne near-future, and making a more long-term move than a short-term one (Howard is more a contribute-now player than a development project, as opposed to the options at No. 3) reflects that view.
  • To justify this trade, either some general managers are down on Howard/Smith (which would be counter to everything I’ve heard), or they think Los Angeles is going to bomb.
  • Thibault turned down more substantial trade-down offers, per Kareem Copeland of the Washington Post, but didn’t want to miss out on the top-three of this class.

Our Atlanta beat, Spencer Nusbaum, has some takeaways for that team too.

Las Vegas: Hired Natalie Williams to be its next general manager, the former three-time All-Star with the franchise having been an AAU coach for the past few years. RIP the four-person committee. Our Aces beat, Matthew Walter, gives some background to the hire.

Also: cut off-ball guard Destiny Slocum almost immediately thereafter.

Las Vegas, Minnesota: The Lynx traded the Nos. 8 and 13 picks in this year’s draft to the Aces for their first- and second-round picks next year. Minnesota basically backed itself into a corner by contracting too many decent players and — barring Vegas imploding — had to lose significant value on its draft assets to avoid burning them on rookies it literally cannot roster. Meanwhile, the Aces have a few open roster spots this year and really could use some good players on cheap contracts the next couple years, and this draft is depth-y. But don’t take my word for it: our Lynx beat, Lucas Seehafer, breaks down how this affects their roster situation.

Visit our offseason trackers page to see all the other free agent moves and how they affect team’s caps, other front-office changes, and more — in neat, colorful fashion!

Watch List, Monday, April 11

(All times in Eastern)

WNBA Draft, 7 p.m., ESPN

NCAA Roundup

Bob Bowlsby: Plans to resign as Big 12 commissioner. This was an inevitability, given that he saw his conference lose its two financial pillars (Texas and Oklahoma) right from under his nose, and managed to only replace them with UCF, Houston, Cincinnati, and BYU, while having to send a cease-and-desist to ESPN to stop The Worldwide Leader from trying to convince members to jump ship and join the American. Whoops.

Maya Dodson: Had her waiver for an additional year of eligibility denied by the NCAA. (Essentially, they counted her sitting out the 2020-21 season for health concerns against her eligibility.)

Diamond Miller: Will undergo knee surgery and be ready for the start of next season, per Kareem Copeland of the Washington Post, as the wing had played through a bad knee all this year.

Victaria Saxton: Will exercise her fifth year of eligibility and return to South Carolina.

Coaching carousel

  • Buffalo: Hired Becky Burke away from USC Upstate to be its next head coach
  • Butler: Hired Austin Parkinson away from IUPUI to be its next head coach
  • Harvard: Hired Michigan assistant Carrie Moore to be its next head coach. Given the similarities in school environment and how well-regarded Moore is, it’s hard to say the Crimson could’ve done much better.
  • Loyola-Chicago: Hired Allison Guth away from Yale to be its next head coach.
  • San José State: Hired Texas assistant April Phillips to be its next head coach
  • South Dakota: Hired Drake assistant Kayla Karius to be its next head coach. She had been working as a Bulldog assistant, after previous stints with the Coyotes and at Wisconsin.
  • Temple: Hired Diane Richardson away from Towson to be its next head coach

Transfer portal

Aijha Blackwell, Dre’una Edwards: Visited Ole Miss together

Kennedy Brown: The 6’6 Oregon State emigrant, who’s shot a career 27.7% from the midrange and 25.% from three, would apparently like to play at the four and even the three and not at center, for some reason.

Lauren Fields: Took home visits from Arizona, Duke, Utah, and Kansas State

Morgan Jones: May commit to Louisville, per Mitchell Northam.

New to the portal:

  • Mimi Collins, big, Maryland. She’s looking for a “looking for a graduate degree program dealing with communications” — perhaps she should consider the prestigious one offered at the University of Maryland, College Park.
  • Taya Corosdale, big, Oregon State
  • Jade Edwards, point guard, American
  • De’Mauri Flournoy, point guard, Vanderbilt. The freshman was the composite No. 58 player in the class of 2021.
  • Lior Garzon, combo forward, Villanova. Her sister is an incoming freshman at Indiana.
  • Sydni Harvey, off-ball guard, South Florida
  • Jillian Hollingshead, big, Georgia. The freshman was the composite No. 67 player in the class of 2021.
  • Taylor Jones, center, Oregon State
  • Esmery Martinez, big, West Virginia
  • Rachel McLimore, wing, IUPUI
  • Sonya Morris, off-ball guard, DePaul
  • Ashley Owusu, point guard, Maryland. You can read between the lines of her announcement. Our Big Ten beat, James Kay, has more.
  • Chayana Pinto, off-ball guard, Oregon
  • Elisa Pinzan, point guard, South Florida
  • Angel Reese, big, Maryland. She’s looking for somewhere that she doesn’t have to be the center, and if you think that’s the only reason, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.
  • Eniya Russell, point guard, South Carolina. The sophomore was the composite No. 45 player in the class of 2020; her other finalists during her high school recruitment were Indiana, Miami, Kentucky, and Georgetown.
  • Jeanae Terry, point guard, Purdue
  • Stephanie Visscher, point guard, SFA

Out of the portal:

  • Sam Brunelle: The combo forward out of Notre Dame committed to Virginia, returning home
  • Kierra Fletcher: The point guard out of Georgia Tech committed to South Carolina. The grad transfer missed what would’ve been her fifth year this past season with a foot injury.
  • Gabby Gregory: The off-ball guard out of Oklahoma committed to Kansas State
  • Taya Hanson: The wing out of Arizona State committed to Oregon
  • Sydney Parrish: The off-ball guard out of Oregon committed to Indiana, returning home
  • Ladazhia Williams: The center out of Mizzou committed to LSU

To briefly summarize the problems at Maryland, here’s a team constructed of the players who have transferred out over the past seven years:

Ashley Owusu // Destiny Slocum
Lexie Brown // Kiara Leslie
Kiah Gillespie // Taylor Mikesell
Angel Reese // Alaysia Styles
Shakira Austin // Jenna Staiti

Here is a team constructed of the players who haven’t transferred out over the past seven years:

Katie Benzan // Kristen Confroy
SWK // Kaila Charles
Diamond Miller // Lauren Mincy
Stephanie Jones // Chloe Bibby
Bri Jones

You may be able to notice that one of these teams is appreciably better. (Editor’s note: you may also note that the year after Austin and Mikesell transferred, for example, Maryland went 26-3.)

Recruiting roundup

Class of 2022

  • Brianna McDaniel: The composite* No. 28-ranked player in the class decommitted from Texas A&M, and a few days later committed to Maryland.
  • Gia Cooke: The No. 61 player decommitted from Texas A&M, and a few days later committed to Maryland.
  • Yonta Vaughn: The No. 65 player decommitted from West Virginia. Without the Washington point guard, the Mountaineers now lack any incoming freshmen.

Class of 2023

  • Essence Cody: The No. 17-ranked player in the class committed to Alabama, the Valdosta, Ga. center picking the Crimson Tide over Arizona, Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi State. If these rankings hold, she’d be Alabama’s highest-ranked recruit in over a decade.
  • Solè Williams: The No. 50 player in the class of 2023 committed to Louisville, its first recruit in that class. The Cincinnati combo guard picked the Cardinals over UCLA, Arizona, UNC, Michigan, and others.

Written by Em Adler

Em Adler (she/they) covers the WNBA at large and college basketball for The Next, with a focus on player development and the game behind the game.

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