January 15, 2024 

Prospect Pulse: Inside Charlisse Leger-Walker’s playmaking wizardry

The Washington State guard is a potential first-round WNBA Draft pick

Welcome to the first edition of Prospect Pulse, a biweekly column covering 2024 WNBA Draft prospects and beyond. Here, we aim to provide you with a comprehensive blend of intel from WNBA talent evaluators, our in-house prospect evaluations, analytics and on-court perspectives from players.

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Today, we’re taking an inside look into the prospects of Washington State guard Charlisse Leger-Walker, a recap of recent performances in “prospect world” and more.

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Leger-Walker’s playmaking value

The 2024 WNBA Draft is stacking up to be one of the greatest—if not the greatest—point guard classes in history, headlined by Iowa’s Caitlin Clark and UConn’s Paige Bueckers. In fact, Leger-Walker would likely be vying for a top-four selection in most other draft classes.

WNBA organizations, however, find themselves fortunate to potentially select a player outside of the lottery with Leger-Walker’s rare blend of feel, high-level pick-and-roll usage and proactive passing.

Leger-Walker, a native of Waikato, New Zealand, hasn’t just grown into one of the best players in college basketball, but one of the best players in the history of Washington State athletics.

In last season’s Pac-12 title game against UCLA, the 5’10 guard scored a game-high 23 points to lead the Cougars to their first-ever Pac-12 championship in any women’s sport in Washington State history.

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Ten months after the historic victory, Leger-Walker continues to elevate her playmaking craft to an elite level. Through the first 16 games, she and Clark are the only high-major players with multiple triple-doubles, according to HerHoopStats.

“Being able to create for others has been a big part of my game throughout my basketball career,” Leger-Walker told The Next. “I have the IQ to get people open as a passer and especially this year with the scorers around me, it’s put me in a position to be a key decision-maker in the pick-and-roll … but beyond that, just being able to read the floor, find open shooters and stay one step ahead of the defense.”

This compilation illustrates Leger-Walker’s outstanding passing versatility, evident in both stationary and live-dribble scenarios. Her ability to execute a myriad of passes on the fly, including skip passes, pocket passes and wrap-around passes, showcases her creativity as an on-ball operator.

Leger-Walker not only excels in two-player actions but also thrives in navigating out-of-structure situations, whether it be in the open court or the half court, seamlessly adapting when the set breaks down.

One of the most valuable micro-skills1 from any 2024 draft-eligible prospect is Leger-Walker’s ability to manipulate defenders and open up passing windows with her eyes. Though her eye manipulation isn’t quite on par with Las Vegas Aces guard Chelsea Gray, it is one of the key skills that makes Gray a generational passer.

“I just think the game plays ahead of time and try to manipulate the defense,” Gray told The Athletic’s Sabreena Merchant in July 2023. “I can make the same call twice in a row [and] get two different looks from what I saw before. That’s kind of been always my goal is to keep the defense honest.”

For Leger-Walker, a vital development to track throughout the remainder of her senior campaign is her jumper. She is shooting 26.7% on catch-and-shoot 3s and 13.3% on pull-up 3s this season, according to Synergy Sports.

“The coaching staff is very confident in my ability to shoot, and so am I,” Leger-Walker said. “I think it’s just one of those things players go through, if you want to call it a shooting slump or whatever that is. It may be a little bit of trying to figure out when I need to take my own shot and find my teammates, but at the end of the day, it’s not necessarily something I’ve let get me down.”

Impressively, Leger-Walker consistently draws blitzes and hedges from defenders out of ball screens, despite her shooting woes. If she finds consistency with her shot, it will only continue to open up more passing windows, create easy scoring opportunities at the rim and allow her to add more value off the ball.

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Beyond her goals of playing professional basketball, Leger-Walker prides herself on giving back to the community in her hometown, founding a youth basketball organization called Basketball Secrets Limited alongside her mother, Leanne, a former member of the New Zealand national team in the 2000 and 2004 Olympics and older sister, Krystal, a former basketball player at Washington State. But Leger-Walker isn’t just giving her time to her fellow Kiwis, she’s trying to help the country return to the world’s biggest stage.

Leger-Walker told The Next that she plans to be away from Washington State to play for the New Zealand national team in its final 2024 Olympic qualifying tournament from Feb. 8 to Feb. 11 in Xi’an, China.

“This is our final chance to qualify for the Olympics, and that’s always been a goal of mine,” Leger-Walker said. “The coaching staff [at Washington State] has known about my commitments to the New Zealand national team since my freshman year.”

The Tall Ferns, No. 23 ranked in FIBA’s latest world rankings, are scheduled to face China (No. 2), France (No. 7) and Puerto Rico (No. 12) in the tournament, which presents a valuable scouting opportunity to assess how she fairs against professionals at the highest level of the sport. France’s qualifying roster includes New York Liberty guard Marine Johannès, Atlanta Dream center Iliana Rupert, defensive stalwart Gabby Williams and more. The field also includes Puerto Rico’s Arella Guirantes, a former second-round pick, as well as Li Meng and Han Xu of China.

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Recently in ‘prospect world’

Notable performances, storylines and notes from the last couple of weeks of action from a 2024 WNBA draft perspective:

  • South Carolina guard Te-Hina Paopao scored 15 points on 3-of-4 shooting from beyond the 3-point line in a win over Missouri on Jan. 11.

Paopao has shot 40% from 3-point range beyond the arc in all 14 games this season. For reference, no other player in the country has shot 40% from deep (min. three attempts) in more than 80% of their games. Paopao has done so in 100% of games, according to HerHoopStats.

  • LSU big Angel Reese put together her most complete game of the season with 20 points, 18 rebounds, seven assists and three stocks2 in a 17-point win over Texas A&M on Jan. 11.
  • Tarbes’ Carla Leite, a 19-year-old guard from France, added 15 points, seven assists and three steals in an upset win over Villeneuve, a EuroLeague club and the No. 3–ranked team in the French league, on Jan. 7.
  • Angers guard Leïla Lacan, the top international prospect in the 2024 draft and steals leader in the French league, will be out at least another month with a sprained knee, the club announced in late December
  • UConn senior forward Aubrey Griffin will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a torn ACL on Wednesday, Jan. 3, at Creighton. Griffin, a potential 2024 draft pick, has dealt with multiple serious knee and back injuries across her high school and college career. The 6’1 forward has one year of eligibility remaining.

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Here at The Next and The IX, our audience is a collection of the smartest, most passionate women’s sports fans in the world. If your business has a mission to serve these fans, reach out to our team at editors@thenexthoops.com to discuss ways to work together.

Games to watch

Monday, Jan. 15: Kentucky at South Carolina (7 p.m. ET, SECN)

Sunday, Jan. 21: Iowa at Ohio State (12 p.m. ET, NBC)

Friday, Jan. 22: UCLA at Utah (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Thursday, Jan. 25: South Carolina at LSU (8 p.m. ET, ESPN)

  • Cardoso, Paopao (SC); Reese (LSU)

Sunday, Jan. 28: Washington State at UCLA (4 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network)

  • Leger-Walker (Wazzu); Osborne (UCLA)


  1. A micro-skill is a term commonly used in scouting to define a skill from a prospect that is part of a subset of skills within a large skill. Examples include off-hand passing, head fakes, quick hip flexibility around screens on defense, the ability for an off-ball shooter to lead the defender into the screen, inbound passing, etc. ↩︎
  2. Stocks is a term used to describe a player’s cumulative steals and blocks in a game. ↩︎

Written by Hunter Cruse

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

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