February 15, 2023
How do WNBA draft prospects rank across the college basketball classes?
A tiered system of the 2023-2026 draft landscape
What if the WNBA Draft looked like the NBA Draft? It sure would matter.
Nine of the last 10 WNBA champions have rostered at least two lottery picks that were selected by their respective organizations; the one exception being the 2019 Washington Mystics, led by Elena Delle Donne.
As things stand, the most highly anticipated, franchise-changing stars can be found at the collegiate level, some as young as freshmen. But those players, typically one-and-done in the men’s game, will be around for a while. The league requires draft-eligible players to be at least 22 years old, to have completed their college eligibility, to have graduated from a four-year college or to be four years removed from high school.
Which is to say: 2023’s lottery pick may not be as valuable as 2024’s lottery pick. Choosing wisely could be the difference between a decade of success and a period of mediocrity. So what difference-making prospects should WNBA organizations and fans alike have on their radar for the next four WNBA drafts?
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These players profile as go-to, franchise-changing stars. The next generation of women’s basketball starts here.
Note: UConn’s Paige Bueckers is not ranked due to a season-ending injury as our focus is on active collegiate players this season. She would likely fall within this first tier, but her specific rank will be determined by her play post-injury.
1. Caitlin Clark, Iowa
G | 6’ | JuniorIowa’s Caitlin Clark is like no other player in women’s basketball. When she crosses halfcourt, the entire defense is glued to her, given her ability to pull up from the logo with ease. Clark’s ability to create space as a ball-handler and utilize her supreme touch to rise up for spot-up or self-created jumpers is simply generational. Beyond her scoring, Clark is a superb playmaker with incredible court mapping and velocity on passes.
2. Aliyah Boston, South Carolina
C | 6’5 | SeniorAliyah Boston recorded a triple-double in her first collegiate game at South Carolina. Since then, the 6’5 center has become a National Champion, a three-time AP All-American, and a Naismith award winner. Boston is ultra-effective near the rim, excelling on post-ups, post seals, face-ups, and as a physical offensive rebounder. Additionally, she is the most valuable rim-protector in the nation, boding a 7.6% block rate with the versatility to defend from the weak side, in drop, and wall up the opposition in the post with her size, strength, and vertically. Boston is the youngest player in the class and the consensus No. 1 pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft.
3. Cameron Brink, Stanford
F/C | 6’4 | JuniorCameron Brink is in the class of Ezi Magbegor and Shakira Austin as a defensive prospect with higher upside on the offensive end. She is a tall, lengthy forward who flashes real floor-spacing ability, albeit a shooting regression from 35.5% (0.9 attempts per game) to 21.7% (1.8 attempts per game) this season. Brink shot 2-for-5 from beyond the arc in Stanford’s non-conference matchup vs. top-ranked South Carolina. She projects as a perennial All-WNBA defender and if she shoots, we’re talking about one of the best players on the planet.
4. Olivia Miles, Notre Dame
G | 5’10 | SophomoreOlivia Miles is one of the best young playmaking guards in the sport; she’s crafty, smart, and proactive at the point guard position. The 5’10 sophomore is second in the nation in assist rate (43.2%), trailing only Iowa’s Caitlin Clark. At the next level, Miles has terrific size for a pick-and-roll ball-handler and transition break-leader with aptness as a perimeter defender.
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These players aren’t clear No. 1 overall prospects, but profile as lottery talents with real All-Star to star-level outcomes if everything breaks right.
5. Azzi Fudd, UConn
W | 5’11 | SophomoreAzzi Fudd is the quintessential off-ball wing. On offense, she can run off screens, spot-up, and be an available cutter. On the defensive side of things, Fudd is a strong communicator with utility as a nail defender. The biggest concern is her injury history. In high school, Fudd was sidelined for nine months due to an ACL injury. Early into her freshman season in Storrs, Conn., she missed two months of action with a foot injury. And after a strong start to her 2022-23 campaign, Fudd suffered a right knee injury vs. Notre Dame in December, causing her to miss a month, before re-injuring her knee upon return in Jan. If the 5’11 wing can stay healthy, we’re looking at one of the most seamless fits in any WNBA system.
6. Aaliyah Edwards, UConn
C | 6’3 | JuniorAaliyah Edwards is a traditional back-to-the-basket post at 6’3, but the Canadian product has given defenders trouble in space as a high-post operator from either elbow. She also ranks in the 86th percentile in transition, according to Synergy Sports. UConn’s offense isn’t super pick-and-roll heavy, but there’s no reason not to expect Edwards to be an impactful screener at the next level with her strength and mobility.
7. Aneesah Morrow, DePaul
W/F | 6’1 | SophomoreAneesah Morrow is on track to become the first DePaul player selected in the first round of the WNBA Draft in program history. The sophomore forward has one of the highest offensive loads in the nation, attempting 24.0 field-goal attempts per game on the fourth-highest usage rate in the country (37.9%). Morrow is undersized at the four position, primarily operating inside, but she has a projectable outside shot and touch.
8. Diamond Miller, Maryland
W/F | 6’3 | SeniorThere are not many players with Diamond Miller’s physical acumen and athleticism at her size. In the halfcourt, she draws heavy help from the nail and attention from weakside defenders on her drives. Miller’s bag of moves is deep: she employs step-throughs, Euro-steps, and spin moves to evade traffic in the paint. Additionally, she is one of the most frantic creators in transition with the ability to turn defense into offense. Miller is also one of two power-conference players since 2009-10 to record a 20% assist rate, 5% block rate, and 3% steal rate in the same season, according to HerHoopStats’ database. The other player? WNBA superstar Breanna Stewart.
9. Laila Phelia, Michigan
W | 5’11 | SophomoreDo-it-all wings are invaluable in modern basketball. Michigan’s Laila Phelia is a versatile defender at 5’11, shoots over 40% from beyond the arc, and has a low center of gravity on drives. She took a noteworthy 3-point shooting jump from 27.8% to 41.1% over her first two collegiate seasons.
10. Haley Jones, Stanford
W/F | 6’1 | SeniorStanford’s Haley Jones is the epitome of positionless basketball; she can grab & go in semi-transition, defend multiple positions, and is a value-added passer. Against a set defense, her offensive utility is less desirable, given her inability to shoot from three (10.7%) and a subpar first step. Can a WNBA coaching staff rework her 3-point shot? Are they confident in her ability to function as a point guard at the next level? Those are two of the main questions regarding Jones’ prospects in the 2023 draft.
Honorable mentions: Sarah Andrews (Baylor, G, Jr.), Sonia Citron (Notre Dame, W, So.), Aubrey Griffin (UConn, W, RS-Jr.), Jordan Horston (Tennessee, W, Sr.), Diamond Johnson (NC State, G, Jr.), Angel Reese (LSU, F, Jr.), Saniya Rivers (NC State, W, So.), Shyanne Sellers (Maryland, W, So.), Jacy Sheldon (Ohio State, G, Sr.), Maddy Siegrist (Villanova, F, Sr.)
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Top Freshman to Track
These players are extremely high-level freshmen, but it’s too early to assess their star to high-level starter outcomes at the next level with three seasons on the horizon before renouncing college eligibility.
F | 6’3 | Freshman
G | 5’8 | Freshman
G | 5’11 | Freshman
W | 5’11 | Freshman
F/C | 6’4 | Freshman
Written by Hunter Cruse
Hunter Cruse covers the WNBA Draft and women’s basketball at-large for The Next.
You left out
Hi, Hunter. For Juniors, you have Clark, Brink, and Aaliyah Edwards all ranked as Lottery Talents or better, with Sarah Andrews, Aubrey Griffin, Diamond Johnson, and Angel Reese all earning Honorable Mentions. I’m a little surprised that Paige Bueckers is totally off the list. I’d expect her to be a higher pick than many of those mentioned. Also, what do you think of Kamilla Cardozo as a post prospect?
I put a disclaimer on Bueckers at the top of the ‘Scheme-Changers’ section. She would fall within that tier, but my focus is on active college players and it’s also just tough to pinpoint a specific ranking for her at the moment given the injury.
On the Cardoso front, she’s a very good college post player, but she doesn’t have quick enough feet and can’t really stay on the floor for long periods of time given her tendency to be handsy on defense and obviously not the quickest athlete in the world. She could certainly be a mid- to back-end second-rounder or such in the 2024 draft, but I don’t see the value of her skillset to say she warrants a placement on this list. Thanks for reading as always!
I see the disclaimer now—I guess I skipped too quickly to the names under the headings.
Wow. No Grace Berger or Makenzie Holmes? Also freshman Yarden Garzon is a real steal with lots of upside.
You did not include Iowa freshman Hannah Stuelke in your Top Freshman to Track. She is THAT good. Her minutes are increasing every game this year. She will be a starter next year and a star in college basketball for years to come.
No Hailey Van Lith, easily a top 10 player.