February 25, 2024 

How international prospects will shape 2024 WNBA Draft

A historical look into how the Lacan, Puoch-led 2024 international class compares to the past

22 years. That’s how long it’s been since an international prospect was selected with the No. 1 pick in the WNBA Draft.

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Though there’s no Lauren Jackson in the 2024 draft, talent outside of the United States is undeniably expanding, with four international prospects1 vying to be selected before the third round.

Versatile two-way French guard Leïla Lacan, arguably the best international draft prospect since Liz Cambage in 2011 and Jackson in 2001, headlines the 2024 class. It also features fellow French guard Carla Leite, Australian forward Nyadiew Puoch and Australian wing Isobel Borlase

Lacan, Leite and Puoch are consensus Top 12 prospects on The Next’s draft board, while Borlase ranks in the second round.

That said, let’s dive into historical draft data to offer insight into the evolution of international draft scouting, then analyze how the 2024 class compares to the past and discuss its implications for future drafts.

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Inside the history of international draft prospects

Two of the first five No. 1 picks2 in WNBA history were international prospects and another two players3 were Top 4 picks over that span. However, it would be another decade before an international prospect (Cambage, 2011) was selected in the lottery. 

There's more international players being drafted in the WNBA than ever before graphic. As displayed here, the modern era (2015-present) has had more international prospects drafted than the 24-second shot clock era and early era.
There’s more international players being drafted in the WNBA than ever before (Graphic: Hunter Cruse, The Next)

As illustrated in this chart, the WNBA’s early era (1997-2005) had the highest number of international prospects selected from 1-12 and 13-24, respectively, while the 24-second shot clock era4 (2006-14) is marked by a significant decline in international prospects drafted overall. 

However, over the last nine seasons in the modern era (2015-present), more international prospects have been selected than ever before. 

You can attribute this to multiple reasons: For one, talent outside of North America continues to improve. Secondly, WNBA organizations have grown increasingly open to choosing international prospects in the third round, even if their arrival in the U.S. takes years or if there’s a possibility they might not come to the WNBA at all.

Today, some WNBA organizations adopt the approach of waiting until the third round to select international prospects due to prioritization rules and the uncertainty around them. 

“We look at international prospects as third-rounders,” one WNBA talent evaluator told The Next. “If we’re gonna focus on international players [as earlier picks], it’s probably going to be Australia because of the easy adjustment to the language barrier.”

However, other organizations are more willing to take international prospects as upside swings in the first and second rounds. 

Among those teams, the Dallas Wings, Los Angeles Sparks, and Minnesota Lynx have each selected three international prospects in the first two rounds in the modern era – the most of any other franchise. They combine to make up 60% (9-of-15) of the players taken in the first two rounds since 2015.

What countries have produced the most international WNBA Draft picks by era? Graphic As displayed here, Australia produced the most WNBA players from 1997-2014 and third to France and Spain from 2015-present day.
What countries have produced the most international WNBA Draft picks by era? (Graphic: Hunter Cruse, The Next)

The one overarching takeaway from this chart is that basketball talent is coming from more parts of the world than ever before. In the modern era, international prospects with nationalities from 14 different countries have been drafted, headlined by France, Spain and Australia. 

Though France has established itself as a top-of-the-line country for youth women’s player development over the last decade, that hasn’t always been the case.

It wasn’t until a decade into the WNBA’s establishment that a French player5 was selected with a Top 36 pick. This coincides with France’s emergence as a formidable national team. Since 2007, the French national team has secured 9 out of their 12 medals – between the Olympics, World Cup and EuroBasket – and their first silver (2012) and bronze medals (2020) at the Olympics.

International WNBA Draft picks by country. Australia leads the way at No. 1, followed by Spain, France and Serbia.
International WNBA Draft picks by country in league history (Graphic: Hunter Cruse, The Next)

Now here’s a look at the most international prospects drafted in the Top 36 from each country in WNBA history. Apart from Australia, Spain, and France, Serbia and Russia stand as the only other countries with five or more players drafted. Meanwhile, Slovakia has seen four of its players drafted, and Belgium has had three players selected. 

According to FIBA World Rankings, Italy (No. 12) is the highest-ranked European national team without a WNBA player to ever be drafted in the Top 366, albeit Italy has increasingly become a more common pipeline for collegiate recruits. For instance, former Georgia Tech forward Lorela Cubaj, the No. 18 pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft.

WNBA players have been drafted in the Top 36 from 21 different countries and four continents across the league’s 27 seasons – without counting the United States and Canada.

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What makes the 2024 class unique?

At least four international prospects have been selected in the Top 24 of the WNBA Draft on four occasions – 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2021. 

The 2024 draft has the potential to enter that exclusive group, presenting a far more impressive scenario compared to the four players selected in the 2021 draft.

The 2021 draft is unequivocally regarded as the weakest class7 of the modern era. In contrast, the 2024 draft boasts two standout prospects in Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, one of the handful of best prospects of all time, and Stanford’s Cameron Brink, along with increased depth across the mid-to-late first and second rounds. 

I teased it in the introduction, but let’s start with the prize of the 2024 class: Lacan.

At 19 years old, Lacan is the same age as some college freshmen and most college sophomores. While those players are playing at the amateur level, the 5’10 guard is one of the best players in the French first division as a teenager. 

Lacan is a dynamic pick-and-roll ball-handler with veteran-like processing against aggressive defensive schemes. She is also a great help-defender and a quality point-of-attack defender, leading the French league in steals per game (3.5).

Lacan will need to continue building on her growth as a shooter (24.1% from 3) and her timing to come over will depend on both her interest and potential changes in a new CBA on WNBA prioritization rules, but she possesses a lot of the skills and physical tools that WNBA teams look for in guard prospects. 

Click here for highlights on Lacan

Next, there’s Puoch, a long, athletic 6’2 forward from Australia. She has quick lateral mobility, a high motor and good recovery speed – allowing her to be switchable on defense. 

On the offensive end, she has shown the ability to hit corner 3s at an optimal rate (31.4% on all 3s) and can make plays in transition, but regardless, figuring out her long-term offensive role will be a work in progress for the Aussie forward.

Puoch is expected to be chosen before Lacan primarily because the schedule of the WNBL aligns favorably with the WNBA, allowing players to transition to the United States in time for training camp.

Click here for highlights on Puoch

Keep an eye on Carla Leite. The French 5’9 guard is maestra in ball screens, a walking paint touch and a versatile playmaker that can make passing reads from various angles. Her development as an outside shooter and off-ball mover will be the deciding factor between her becoming a starting-caliber WNBA point guard or depth piece.

For a deep dive into the creative guard, The Next spoke with her in Dec. 2023 for insight on her WNBA aspirations, basketball journey and more. 

Click here for highlights on Leite

Lastly, Isobel Borlase is the youngest prospect in the draft with an intriguing mix of 3-point spacing and off-ball movement, however, her upside doesn’t compare to the other three players. The Australian 5’11 wing is a good athlete for WNBL standards, but there are some questions on how that’ll translate to the WNBA level – specifically with her defense and finishing.

Click here for highlights on Borlase

18-year-old Spanish center Awa Fam of Valencia pictured holding the ball above her head surveying the court.
Spanish center Awa Fam of Valencia is a name to know for 2026 WNBA Draft (Photo credit: @valenciabasket on X, formerly known as Twitter)

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What does this mean for 2025 draft and beyond?

International prospects will continue to become a mainstay in draft conversations as the game evolves and organizations invest more and more resources into international draft evaluation. 

It’s easy for a Los Angeles scout to take a short drive over to UCLA to watch Charisma Osborne or another Pac-12 (soon to be Big Ten) prospect that comes to town, but it’s not as easy to take a ~10-hour flight from Los Angeles to France. 

Unlike NBA teams, WNBA organizations don’t have regional scouts overseas and large front office personnel. This can sometimes lead to international players slipping through the cracks or falling down the board due to more uncertainties in their evaluations compared to collegiate prospects.

Nevertheless, here are six notable international prospects to keep an eye on for the 2025, 2026 and 2027 drafts (listed alphabetically by draft year):

Dominique Malonga, Tarbes (France, 6’6, C, 2025 draft)

Ajsa Sivka, Schio (Slovenia, 6’4, F, 2025 draft)

Awa Fam, Valencia (Spain, 6’4, C, 2025 draft)

Iyana Martin, Segle XXI (Spain, 5’8, G, 2026 draft)

Justė Jocytė, ASVEL (Lithuania, 6’, G, 2027 draft)

Ainhoa Risacher, ASVEL (France, 6’2, W/F, 2027 draft)


  1. To meet the criteria as an international prospect, players must be born and currently reside outside the United States. They can participate in professional or amateur basketball before being drafted but are prohibited from competing collegiately within the United States, as covered in HerHoopStats’ CBA guide. For example, by the rulebook, UConn’s Aaliyah Edwards, born in Canada, and Kamilla Cardoso, born in Brazil, don’t classify as international prospects. ↩︎
  2. Ann Wauters, a Belgium native, was the No. 1 pick in 2001 to the Cleveland Rockets, while Jackson, from Australia, went No. 1 in 2000 to the Seattle Storm. ↩︎
  3. Brazil’s Cintia dos Santos was selected with the No. 4 pick in the 2000 draft by the Orlando Miracle. Czech Republic’s Eva Nemcova went No. 2 overall in the inaugural 1997 draft a few years prior. ↩︎
  4. In 2006, the WNBA decreased the shot clock from 30 to 24 seconds to create a faster pace of play. The league points per game average skyrocketed eight points (67.2 → 75.2) from 2005 to 2006. ↩︎
  5. French center Sandrine Gruda was selected with the No. 13 pick in the 2007 draft by the Connecticut Sun. ↩︎
  6. Jurgita Streimikyte, the No. 26 pick in the 2000 draft, played for a club in Italy prior to being selected by the Indiana Fever, however, she holds Lithuanian citizenship. Streimikyte won a gold medal in the 1997 EuroBasket as a member of the Lithuanian national team. ↩︎
  7. In a redraft, some order of Aari McDonald, Dana Evans, DiJonai Carrington, Michaela Onyenwere, Iliana Rupert and Kuier would be atop the board. That’s a good crop of role players, but no clear stars or high-level starters at that. ↩︎

Written by Hunter Cruse

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

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