April 16, 2021 

How the Dallas Wings won the 2021 WNBA Draft

Quantity turns into quality for Greg Bibb's roster

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The 2021 WNBA draft was a star-studded event; but the Dallas Wings were the stars of the night.

After trading the seventh pick to the Los Angeles Sparks; Dallas still had the top two selections, the fifth and 13th picks. The Wings wasted no time on the clock when selecting center Charli Collier from Texas with the first pick. Collier adds the size and depth needed in the frontcourt. The 6’5 Texas native said being drafted was a dream come true and is a testament to her hard work.  

“It was just amazing to know that the hard work pays off no matter what you do, and I feel like the best is still yet to come,” Collier said.

Collier finished her final season at Texas averaging 19 points and 11.3 rebounds per game. In 2020 the Dallas Wings were outrebounded by their opponents and needed a bigger presence in the paint. With Collier they will be able to play more of an inside out game and open up the floor. Collier said she would be bringing her rebounding ability first and foremost, but she has more skills that could help the Wings.

Charli Collier (Photo: Luke Lu / Iowa State Athletics)

“I feel like you could definitely see me as like a stretch 5, somebody that could put the ball on the floor, somebody that can shoot the midrange, be in the post, a very hybrid, versatile basketball player,” Collier said. 

President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Bibb said he knew about Collier as a top prospect coming out of high school. He also saw her play as a freshman, as he was scouting Big 12 players at the time. There was never a doubt in his mind that Collier was going to be the team’s first pick. She is a center that can knock down a three who is strong and physical enough to get down on the block and rebound.

“Anytime I have an opportunity to add a double double player who can knock out a three-point shot and make eight out of every 10 free throws she takes, I have a jersey for her,” Bibb said.

There was not much surprise when Dallas made their second selection. Awak Kuier, 19, is the first player from Finland to be drafted into the WNBA and the sixth player in draft history to be taken in the top five without NCAA experience. The 6’5 center has been making waves overseas and is another big body the Wings can utilize. 

Kuier has been shooting 50.5 percent from the field and 31.6 percent from three-point range in overseas play. She also has versatility, currently playing the three, four and five position for Ragusa in the Italian league. In her post-draft interview the young star said she expects to continue to improve and cannot wait to learn new things. 

“I want to be one of the players that’s very versatile and does a lot of things, but for sure I think I want to just get better with post play.” Kuier said. “I’m very good at driving and shooting but having good moves inside the paint is very important for me.”

Bibb said that Kuier reminds him of last year’s second draft pick Satou Sabally — she is wise beyond her years, because of the experiences she will bring with her to Dallas.

“That really stood out to me that we’re getting a mature, worldly, thoughtful and intellectual young woman who’s going to join an organization. Put the basketball aside that makes us better alone,” Bibb stated.

Both Collier and Kuier have the ability to play the center and the power forward positions. The Dallas offense has been stagnant for the past two seasons. Bigs like Collier and Kuier will help open things up and allow the Wings to spread the ball. 

While size and rebounding ability were top priority for Dallas, they shifted their focus to guards for the remainder of the draft. With the fifth pick, the Wings selected a 5’11 guard from Arkansas, Chelsea Dungee. She shot 40 percent from the field and 35.4% from beyond the arc. Her shooting ability is something that the Wings need especially from three-point range. Dallas attempted and made the most three-pointers in 2020, but at a third worst 32.3 percent. 

There will be extra competition for the guard spots as the Wings already have a trio of point guards in Moriah Jefferson, Marina Mabrey and 2020 first round pick Ty Harris. Jefferson has not played a full season since her rookie year in 2016, dealing with a nagging knee injury, and comes with a level of uncertainty. This would leave just Harris and Mabrey; Dungee could be that extra piece that can use her speed to get to the basket. The Oklahoma native said she will be able to contribute in a number of ways.

“I think that I have the ability to score the basketball from everywhere on the floor,” Dungee said. “I can shoot the three consistently. You’ll see more of my midrange game. I’ve always had it, but I didn’t get to showcase it as much in college. But the midrange, for sure. And getting to the basket, getting fouls, getting under the defense. I think that I can contribute in all those ways.”

Chelsea Dungee. (screenshot from WNBA Draft zoom)

Bibb said he thought Dungee was the best offensive option in the draft; she finished her last season at Arkansas averaging 22.6 points per game. In the system she played in as a Razorback she was not required to pass the ball much; but she has an ability to get to the basket and draw contact, which translate into easy points as an 80 percent free throw shooter. Bibb believes Dungee can play the two and three position in the WNBA due to her size and athleticism, but has yet to see how effective she can be on defense. 

“I really liked my time with her in terms of our conversation, we actually had two or three different conversations, enjoying each one more than the last. And I think she’s going to be a great fit,” Bibb said. 

Dallas may have received the prize of the night when guard Dana Evans from Louisville, who was projected to be drafted as high as third, was available for the Wings to select with their 13th pick. The 5’6 guard that averaged 21.2 points per game and can defend. Although she did not go as high as she thought she would she is going to add this to the list of things that motivates her.

“I can’t even put into words how much it motivates me. I told somebody that I’m ready to just get in the gym tonight. I kind of feel disrespected, overlooked, but that’s just been my career, my path and my journey,” Evans said. 

Evans averaged 20.1 points and 3.9 assists in her senior season; she is a confident true point guard. She is a competitor with a chip on her shoulder from the result of the draft. It will make training camp even more exciting. Bibb expressed that competition is good as it results in the best outcome and the best team. He could tell that Evans was disappointed by being selected 13th. 

“She’s going to come into our camp, she’s going to get every opportunity to prove everyone that passed on her before we took her that day they made a mistake and I’m excited to see how that plays out,” Bibb said. 

The President and Chief Executive Officer pushed back on the idea that the Wings had too many picks, pointing out Dallas needs a couple of extra bodies with 10 players under contract and some late arrivals. 

“We’re actually in a need to add some players completely opposite of the false narrative. I never think you can have too many picks; I never think you’d have too many good players. I’d rather have to deal with that problem and training camp to deal with the problem of not having enough good players,” Bibb said.

The latter problem, after Thursday night, has been solved in Dallas.

Written by Arie Graham

Arie Graham joined 'The Next' in May 2021 as the beat writer for the Dallas Wings.

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