As the WNBA offseason rolls along now a little over a month away from training camps commencing before the 2023 season tips off in May, the Minnesota Lynx are still figuring out what their roster will look like ahead of the new year.
With free agency now over a month old and Minnesota not being terribly active on the open market, the next noteworthy offseason event to look forward to is the WNBA Draft in April. The Lynx head into the draft with five draft picks, including two in the first round with the second and 12th overall selections. If they end up actually using those picks instead of trading them away, that’s another story that will unfold in the coming weeks.
Before the draft can begin, Minnesota is still doing its homework on the top prospects available in the draft. With the Women’s NCAA Tournament getting underway, it will be flooded with talented prospects who could hear their names called early on in the WNBA Draft in a few weeks.
As the Madness tips off, here are some college players to watch and prospects who could end up wearing a Lynx uniform this summer.
*Note: players below are listed in no particular order*
Diamond Miller — G, Maryland
Maryland product Diamond Miller is a player Lynx fans should watch closely in the NCAA Tournament with the guard looking like the current favorite to land in Minnesota with the second overall pick in the WNBA Draft.
Miller has put forth a career year this season with the Terrapins — who hold the second see in the Greenville 1 Region — averaging 19.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.3 blocks while shooting 46.3 percent from the field over 30 games.
Miller might have the highest potential outside of likely No. 1 pick Aliyah Boston, having showcased the ability to be versatile and utilize her length, offensive ability and overall skill that could be useful at the WNBA level. If she doesn’t go No. 2 to the Lynx, expect Miller to be off the draft board shortly after as one of the top picks.
Haley Jones — G, Stanford
Lynx fans are likely already aware of Stanford guard Haley Jones, who has been slated in many mock drafts as the favorite for Minnesota to draft with its first selection at No. 2. When it comes to a position-less player, Jones somewhat resembles that while being able to take over the guard or forward positions on a roster.
Jones has tallied career numbers in her fourth season at Stanford, averaging 13.4 points, 9.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists and one block over 33 games. It will now be interesting to see if she can continue to step up on the big stage while leading her team, which is the No. 1 seed in the Seattle 4 Region, into a deep postseason run.
Jones not only would fit a need at guard in Minnesota, but she is one of the more versatile options available at the top of the draft due to her rebounding, playmaking and offensive abilities.
Elizabeth Kitley — C, Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech has been a top team in the country all season long, and a big piece to that has been center Elizabeth Kitley, who has been tied to Minnesota in many mock drafts leading up to the WNBA Draft. When it comes strictly to a position of need, the post position is an area the Lynx could address, making this more of a need-first selection possibility.
In her fourth season with the Hokies this year, Kitley has averaged career-highs of 18.6 points, 10.5 rebounds and 56.3 percent shooting from the field to go along with 2.3 blocks and 1.4 assists over 30 games. She has been an anchor all year long for Virginia Tech, which is the No. 1 seed in the Seattle 3 Region, and will need to be once again in the NCAA Tournament.
The back-to-back ACC Player of the Year has made a strong case to move up draft boards in the upcoming WNBA Draft, and she could be a player that would fit in nicely to replace Sylvia Fowles in the Lynx rotation.
Maddy Siegrist — F, Villanova
A player who has continued to climb up draft boards is Villanova forward Maddy Siegrist. In the NCAA Tournament, where her team holds the No. 4 seed in the Greenville 2 Region, she could continue to improve her draft stock while potentially reaching as high as the second pick to Minnesota in April’s draft.
The first thing that stands out about Siegrist is her ability to take games over offensively. As a senior, the forward has averaged a career-high and national-leading 28.9 points to go along with 9.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.1 steals with shooting marks of 51.8 percent from the field and 37.3 percent from three. Siegrist’s offensive skillset is there, but the defensive side of her game might still need some work especially at the next level.
Minnesota is fairly heavy at the wing position, which would make the selection of Siegrist a bit surprising. But if she continues to shine and improve on the national stage as we’ve seen to this point in the year, it could get hard for the Lynx to choose anyone else at No. 2.
Stephanie Soares — C, Iowa State
With center being an area of need on the Lynx roster, Minnesota could eye Iowa State post Stephanie Soares with one of its first-round selections if she indeed enters the WNBA Draft. Although Soares wouldn’t likely be taken at No. 2, perhaps she’s still on the board when the Lynx select at No. 12 and the team views her as a nice fit to fill a hole left by Sylvia Fowles.
The 6-foot-6 center nearly averaged a double-double with 14.4 points, 9.9 rebounds, three blocks, 1.4 assists and 1.1 steals over the first 13 games of her senior season before tearing her ACL to cut her season short.
Even though Soares is coming back from a major injury, what she displayed before that injury was impressive. The Brazilian showcased her ability to stretch the floor while being able to shoot from anywhere on the floor and also being able to lock down the paint defensively. Those characteristics to go along with her potential could persuade teams to take a shot on Soares regardless of the current injury she’s recovering from.
Jordan Horston — G, Tennessee
When it comes to athletic, two-way options that will be available in the WNBA Draft, Tennessee guard Jordan Horston is near the top of the list of prospects that fit that mold. Horston is looking more like a late first-round pick rather than an early selection, but Minnesota could keep an eye on her to potentially use the No. 12 pick to select Horston.
For Tennessee, which is the No. 4 seed in the Seattle 3 Region, Horston averaged 15.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists and career-highs of 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks over 32 games. She also improved as a shooter this year, tallying a mark of 43.6 percent from the field.
Horston has the ability to take games over with her athleticism alone, but her balance of stellar offense and elite defensive ability is what could set her apart from others in the draft class. She just needs to work on consistency to improve her draft stock, and that could start to be shown during the NCAA Tournament.
Charisma Osborne — G, UCLA
Another guard that could be available in the latter half of the first round if Minnesota decides to draft a different position at No. 2 or move that pick to another team is UCLA guard Charisma Osborne. The 5-foot-9 guard could be useful as a floor general that also has the ability to play off the ball, a trait of a player the Lynx have been looking to add the last few years.
During her senior season, Osborne averaged 15.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.5 steals while shooting 38.2 percent from the field and 28.9 percent from three in a career-high 33 games for the Bruins, who are the No. 4 seed in the Greenville 1 Region.
Osborne is an intriguing prospect due to her playmaking ability, quickness and explosiveness she possesses to go along with two-way capabilities on both ends of the floor. She will have a chance to not only prove herself once again in the NCAA Tournament but try and improve her draft stock to put her name among the top guards on draft boards among WNBA teams.
Zia Cooke — G, South Carolina
Another prospect that could be available in the latter half of the first round or maybe even in the second round for the Lynx is guard Zia Cooke out of South Carolina, which is the top-seeded team in the Greenville 1 Region. Though she likely wouldn’t be a selection early in the draft for Minnesota, Cooke could be a sleeper pick as the draft progresses.
The 5-foot-9 guard has enjoyed one of her best seasons to date entering the NCAA Tournament, averaging 15.3 points, 2.1 assists and 1.7 rebounds while shooting a career-high 40.8 percent from the field and 36.1 percent from three.
Cooke has shown the ability to produce offensively with her shot-making ability, but she may need to work on becoming more of a distributor to make an impact at the professional level. Either way, Cooke could be an under-the-radar pick in the draft and someone to watch as South Carolina makes another deep NCAA Tournament run.
These are just some of the prospects to watch for in the Women’s NCAA Tournament, which is packed full of talented prospects that have what it takes to play and be successful at the next level. They will all try to prove themselves on the big stage while also attempting to help their respective teams to an NCAA title.
For the Lynx, they will have their eyes glued to every game to find out which prospects they want to not only select with the No. 2 pick, but potentially with a total of five picks in the 2023 WNBA Draft.
Let the Madness begin.