January 13, 2024
Locked On Women’s Basketball: 2024 WNBA Draft hot takes
International prospects, South Carolina's 2024 draft class, and more!
The Locked On Women’s Basketball scouting show returns for an episode dedicated to the crew’s hottest takes and bold predictions for the upcoming 2024 WNBA Draft. Co-hosts Hunter Cruse, Em Adler and Lincoln Shafer talked about top international prospects, compared this year’s class of guards to years past, discussed the top prospects coming out of South Carolina, and much more.
The conversation began by discussing the top international prospects in this year’s class, including Leïla Lacan out of France.
“You don’t run into players who have her combination of processing, creativity, and really innate athletic tools [that often],” Adler said. “I think the best way I can describe her is, at the age of 19, she is basically what we are seeing currently out of [UCLA] sophomore Kiki Rice, but [is] draft eligible and is somehow a little more consistent, actually shooting the three, and is projected to draw a lot more fouls.”
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Shafer added to Adler’s point, saying: “I think Kiki might be more effective in a less flashy way, if that makes sense. But they’re both very good and that is a pretty solid comparison. Lacan has a lot of potential as a long lead ball handler who can go to the point of attack. To say that she is the best international prospect since Lauren Jackson isn’t, I don’t think, indefensible.”
The group then discussed how the current environment around prioritization will likely continued to limit international prospects declaring for the draft, as long as salaries in other leagues are able to at least keep pace with the WNBA.
Then, they switched gears to discuss Shafer’s ‘probably not actually a very hot take,’ that the 2024 WNBA draft guard class is likely the best in league history.
“We’ve basically never seen two guard prospects that are at the level that Paige Bueckers and Caitlin Clark are at right now,” he said. “We don’t know if they’re both gonna be [entering the draft] but even once you get past Clark and Bueckers, there’s a whole lot of really interesting guard depth in this class, players that are maybe one or two skills away from a approaching high-level starter levels in the WNBA. There’s a lot of depth at the guard position in this class, along with the high end talent of [Clark] and [Bueckers].”
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Cruse used the opportunity to bring up South Carolina’s Te-Hina Paopao, and how she boosts the caliber of this year’s guard class.
“My hot take is that Te-Hina Paopao is the best [2024 WNBA draft] prospect from South Carolina,” Cruse said. “For me, I’m someone that values scalability and I think shooting is a skill I really value … she has shot 40% from three in every single game this season. Not once has she had a bad shooting game so far this year. And I believe the next best player is like 78.6% [of games]. So she’s in a class of her own right now.”
“To me, a little bit of that depends on whether or not you think Paopao is a one at the next level,” Shafer countered. “I don’t know if she can handle primary playmaker responsibility, but obviously, anyone who is shooting at that level the way that Paopao has for the last 12 months now, she finished the season on an insanely hot shooting stretch, it’s definitely defensible.”
They also discussed more about the 2024 South Carolina draft class, which top players could stay in the NCAA for one more year, and more. Listen to Locked On Women’s Basketball every day to learn more about women’s basketball history, the game and its players, and much more!