In last year’s WNBA Draft, there was little doubt who would go No. 1. Nobody was surprised when former Connecticut superstar Diana Taurasi’s name was called first by Phoenix.
This year, the Mercury have the draft’s third pick, and Taurasi has been openly advocating for her team’s front office to draft Minnesota center Janel McCarville come Saturday.
But Taurasi might not get her wish, because McCarville might go first just like she did.
Charlotte has this year’s top pick, and coach and general manager Trudi Lacey said there are two things her team needs to address most.
“One, we still don’t have that creative scorer, someone who can score off the dribble and create her own shot,” Lacey said. “Secondly, we had a lot of trouble last year rebounding and getting consistent scoring in the paint.”
McCarville certainly seems like the ideal candidate to fill the latter. She averaged a double-double last season, scoring 16 points per game and leading the Big Ten in rebounding for the second-straight season with 10.6 boards per game.
McCarville also owns the NCAA Tournament rebounding record with 75 in 2004.
“She’d be a good fit for our system,” Lacey said. “She’s a very agile, strong post player with a pass-first, shoot-second style of play, very unselfish. We have a ‘no-star’ system, so she would be a great fit in that regard.”
As far as their other need goes, the Sting would likely pick Mississippi State guard Tan White, who led the nation in scoring this year with 23.5 points per game.
With the exit of both Nicole Powell and Andrea Stinson, Charlotte could use depth in its backcourt. On the other hand, last year’s 18th pick, Kelly Mazzante, could be sufficient given more minutes.
So on Saturday, it’s a toss-up as to which of those two needs Charlotte deems most necessary – though most pundits expect it to be McCarville.
If McCarville doesn’t go first, it’s possible she could slip to third because Indiana, which holds the second pick, is stronger at post than any other position.
The Fever need guards, and if Charlotte takes McCarville, it’s nearly a sure-bet Indiana will take White. However, if White is gone, Indiana could take Louisiana State’s Temeka Johnson or Kansas State’s Kendra Wecker.
McCarville said she met with both Charlotte and Indiana to talk about concerns and expectations.
“They know and I know what we want,” McCarville said. “It was just loose ends and stuff.”
If McCarville is still around for the third pick, it wouldn’t be shocking to hear her name called within seconds. The post position is the Mercury’s most obvious need. With a backcourt of Taurasi and Anna DeForge, who led the league in three-pointers last year, McCarville is the no-brainer pick.
And McCarville says that would be OK with her.
“It’s not necessarily that I’d prefer to go there; it’s just something that popped up,” she said. “Playing with Taurasi is definitely appealing, but whether I go top-three, top-five, there will be great players. The higher up I go, the better off I’ll be.”