April 22, 2023 

Locked on Women’s Basketball: Where do Angel Reese and Kamilla Cardoso need to develop?

Reese and Cardoso are excellent college players, but there are concerns about them as WNBA players

In today’s episode of Locked on Women’s Basketball, co-hosts Hunter Cruse and Em Adler discuss college prospects for future WNBA drafts and transfer news in women’s college basketball.

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This week, Hunter, Em and Lincoln Shafer ranked the top 22 WNBA prospects left in college basketball, regardless of class. The results got plenty of feedback, including from people surprised that LSU’s Angel Reese, South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso, Tennessee’s Rickea Jackson and former Louisville guard Hailey Van Lith did not make the list. Hunter spoke about this in general terms:

“I’m not saying they’re … not [going to be] good eighth, ninth players on [a WNBA] bench. But our list is top-20 prospects, and these are players we think have star upside at best, but they also have median outcomes of being rotation contributors.”

Reese is a 6’3 forward who played two seasons at Maryland before winning a national championship with LSU last season. With the Tigers, she averaged 23.0 points, 15.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.6 blocks per game. Em explained their concerns with Reese as a WNBA prospect:

“At her height, you would not prefer her to be guarding your 6’7 Brittney Griner. You would not prefer her to be guarding your 6’5 Shakira Austin at the WNBA level. So the question is, can she defend well enough in space to hold up at the four? And I think there’s an issue there.

“I think … a lot of her creation on offense comes from 16-foot face-up and drives. And she’s really good at those. She’s really good at finishing them and drawing contact and getting to the line. But the issue is at the WNBA level, you’re gonna have a heck of a lot more help defense that are stunting in on you. You’re gonna have a lot less respect out to 15, 16 feet; people are just going to be waiting for you to come to the rim … and you need to have some sort of action to open up the rim if you’re gonna do that. And right now, I don’t know what that is for her.”

Next, Em explained their concerns with Cardoso. Cardoso is a 6’7 center who started her career at Syracuse before coming to South Carolina. Last season, she averaged 9.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in just 18.8 minutes per game while shooting 55.9% from the field.

“One of the biggest things for me that stuck out about Kamilla Cardoso is just the fact that she doesn’t particularly leverage her feet and her hips well to move in space … She has a lot of length, and that makes up for a lot of it. But there are concerns that I have. Not at South Carolina and not in the SEC; I think she’ll be fine [next season]. I think she’ll be great. I think she’ll be an SEC Player of the Year contender. But at the WNBA level, where you can go four out, one in and you can bring that one and run a pick-and-roll, there’s nowhere to sort of get as much help from. There’s nowhere to more easily mitigate the issue of defending in space.”

Make sure to subscribe to the Locked on Women’s Basketball podcast to keep learning about women’s college basketball, the WNBA Draft, basketball history and much more!

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