April 17, 2021
Cheryl Reeve got exactly what she had hoped for, and more, in the WNBA Draft
What Rennia Davis and Asheika Alexander can bring to the Minnesota Lynx
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“We wanted to make sure we could take the best player available. We did not want to have ourselves in a situation [where] we were focused on position, and that’s exactly what came into fruition,” Minnesota Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve told reporters after Thursday’s WNBA Draft.
With the No. 9 overall pick, the Lynx selected Rennia Davis, a 6’2 forward from Tennessee, and appear to have gotten the versatile player they were after. Davis is the Lady Vols’ highest draft pick since Diamond DeShields went at No. 3 to the Chicago Sky in 2018.
When Davis’ name was called, Davis and her family’s excitement was palpable. Viewers caught a glimpse of the family enjoying Rennia’s highlights on the broadcast. “I think what you saw—that enthusiasm, that energy—that was a lot of fun to watch,” said Reeve.
The excitement appears to be mutual. Reeve told reporters, “We didn’t target Rennia because we didn’t think she would be there, but we allowed ourselves the flexibility that when the opportunity presented itself, we were able to move in that direction and we’re excited about it.”
And how did Davis feel hearing her name called? “I guess relief would be the right word,” Davis said. “I expected to go a little bit higher, but I’m not mad. I’m not sad. I’m not disappointed. I ended up where I’m supposed to be.”
At Tennessee, Davis averaged 15.4 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. She is one of four Tennessee players to rank in the top 10 in program history in total points, points per game, total rebounds and rebounds per game, joining Chamique Holdsclaw, Candace Parker and Tamika Catchings.
In Minnesota, Davis will face a lot of veteran competition, as the Lynx had a solid roster going into the draft. But, Reeve said of Davis, “I think we have ourselves somebody that’s gonna allow us to move some players around, and I think she should have a chance to see the floor a little bit.”
And Davis is eager to learn from the veterans: “I’ve never been in [that] position really throughout my basketball career; I’ve [never] really been able to just soak it all in … I’ve always just kind of been thrown in the fire, so this would be a totally different situation for me and I’m just gonna sit back and observe and just hope [to] soak it all in, really.”
Davis is a “legit 6’2,” so she’ll be hard to play against and should help the Lynx snag more rebounds. When asked what Davis will bring to the team, Reeve said, “I think that versatility in matchups, that’s what we’re all looking for, especially when you’re talking about an 11-player roster.” Reeve also commended Davis’ maturity: “She probably heard [she would] go higher … maybe five at the lowest. And so I think it said a lot about her, how she handled being picked at nine.”
Reeve continued, “There were some other players that were a little more disappointed and showed their disappointment. So I felt really good about how Rennia responded in that situation.”
Asked whether she has another WNBA Rookie of the Year candidate on her hands—following Napheesa Collier in 2019 and Crystal Dangerfield in 2020—Reeve demurred. “I’d prefer that you guys not continue with that hype,” she said. “I need this rookie to come in here and focus on helping us off the bench … that’s got to be her mindset.”
Following the draft, the Lynx also signed forward Asheika Alexander from Langston University to the team’s training camp roster. Per Elias Sports, Alexander becomes the first player signed by the Lynx who attended a historically Black college or university (HBCU). “We think it’s important that our league gets more involved in amplifying HBCU players in terms of opportunities,” Reeve told reporters. “We’re really and truly excited about the addition of Asheika Alexander.”
Alexander played a total of 42 games in two seasons for Langston University and averaged 21.0 points, 6.7 rebounds. 1.8 assists and 2.2 steals per game.
The Lynx will have a packed, busy training camp, and fans will be eager to see who makes the final cut and how those players compete for minutes.