With a global pandemic effectively eliminating live sports from our world, Friday’s WNBA Draft was a rare respite. The format was tweaked to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Video conferencing, remote interviews and lots of shots of quarantined prospects in their homes defined the broadcast. Minnesota possessed two picks (6th and 16th overall), but came away with three new players.
Mikiah “Kiki” Herbert Harrigan
Minnesota threw a curveball into the WNBA draft with their selection of Mikiah Herbert Harrigan, a 6’2” forward out of South Carolina. This year’s draft featured four players who were essentially locked into the first four slots of the first round; Sabrina Ionescu from Oregon, Satou Sabally from Oregon, Lauren Cox from Baylor and Chennedy Carter from Texas A&M.
The rest of the first round appeared to fairly wide open but not many pundits or mock drafts had Herbert-Harrigan being selected in the first round, let alone at pick 6. Lynx GM and Head Coach Cheryl Reeve explained why she didn’t consider the choice a “reach.”
“I think that Kiki was on a lot of radars but down a bit lower…you’re talking about a few spots sooner. It’s the type of draft where once you get past the obvious talented players that you knew were gonna go in some order in the top four. It really became very subjective after that.”
Herbert Harrigan is a “3 & D” power forward who is poised to really excel at the WNBA level. Reeve believes her defense and energy to be her most notable skills. She’s got long arms that make her an excellent shot blocker. “Kiki” also shot 43% from three last season, albeit on a low number of attempts (46 3PA in 33 games). She also has a nice face up game and can get separation from her defender off the dribble.
Here’s a nice highlight video showcasing those long armed blocks:
Here are ALL of her 2020 SEC Tournament offensive possessions (3 games):
Everyone seemed to believe that the Lynx NEEDED to draft a point guard on Friday. Cheryl Reeve pushed back on that idea that a new PG was a “must” and more of a case of player they liked falling to them at 16. Dangerfield just happens to be 5’5” and plays point guard.
“We were able to achieve balance we were looking for by taking Kiki at 6 and then obviously it worked out, we happen to like Crystal Dangerfield. I can’t tell you that I thought she would be there at 16. In this case we thought she would have been gone.”
The senior guard is first and foremost a shooter. She shot 42% on nearly 6 threes a game last season at UConn. The versatility of her shot really pops too. She can hit shots off the dribble, coming around screens or just catching and loading up. She’s also lightning-quick and is a plus-defender despite her size.
It’s hard to go wrong with UConn players. Reeve and UConn head coach Geno Auriemma have a great relationship. Also Napheesa Collier played three years of basketball as Dangerfield’s teammate. They both deeply understand the player the Lynx drafted.
“All of us enjoy players who play at UConn. They are plug and play players.” Reeve said. “Crystal is going to know what we want. There are some things that we do that are similar (to UConn), I think that’s why Napheesa had a relatively easy time (adjusting). That will certainly help Crystal.”
The Lynx traded Stephanie Talbot to New York for Rice senior guard Erica Ogwumike who was selected 26th overall by the Liberty. Ogwumike is a hard-nosed, power guard with a knack for getting into the lane for the finish or the foul. She was also one of the best rebounding guards in college basketball last season. Then of course there is the WNBA royalty surname. Reeve illustrated what the Ogwumike name represents.
“Anybody that follows the WNBA knows the bloodlines of the Ogwumike family. The characteristics, the qualities of an Ogwumike are incredibly appealing. The way that they play the game. They do things that win possessions.”
It will be an uphill battle for Ogwumike to make the 12 player roster, but she’s a player the Lynx really like and she’ll get a chance to prove she belongs.
There’s not a lot of Rice University Women’s Basketball readily available online but here’s a short look at some of her skills:
s/o to our video coordinator for making me look cool ! Lol https://t.co/CWmABH2EGI— Erica Ogwumike (@Ogwumi13) April 17, 2020
We’ll have more on how these players fit into the 2020 Minnesota Lynx next week. Until then, lets enjoy Erica Ogwumike: YouTuber.