Even with everything that is going on in our society, there is still business going down in the sports industry! The WNBA hosted its 2020 Player Draft on April 17. The WNBA doesn’t get the amount of recognition as the other Big Four Professional industries, but LeBron James recognizes talent when he sees it. “I just think you give respect where respect is due, at the end of the day. No matter if you’re a male or female. If you’re playing at the highest level in your respective sport, you should get respect where respect is due” (WNBA.com).
Before the picks were on the way, the WNBA did an amazing gesture by giving honorary picks to Gianna Bryant, Alyssa Altobelli, and Payton Chester. The first pick of the WNBA Draft was no surprise and went to Sabrina Ionescu, drafted by the New York Liberty. Ionescu is the first player in NCAA history, male or female athlete, reaching 2,000 points, 1,000 assists, and 1,000 rebounds! She was unanimously selected as the winner of the Associated Press Player of the Year, joining UConn great Breanna Stewart in receiving the award. Kelly Graves, head women’s basketball coach of the Oregon Ducks, said, “You would think it’s a no-brainer, but she had really good competition from her own teammates … we’ve got a lot really good players in this conference, but nobody impacts the game like she does on the court or, quite frankly, off the court” (Oregonlive.com) The Ducks, previously having only 8 players drafted before, had three players picked this year: Ionescu, Satou Sabally, and Ruthy Hebard.
Greenville University women’s basketball senior Hannah Krukewitt and junior Lauren Eagleson were asked if Ionescu is going to bring in more fans for the WNBA. Krukewitt said, “I hope so! She has brought a large following from the NBA to her college games because of her friendships with Kobe and Steph Curry. I wasn’t able to watch the draft, but the next day, one of the first things I did was look up where Sabrina went. I love the way she plays, and how she loves the game. She makes it more than just basketball, and young girls and boys need to see that at a level like the WNBA.” Eagleson stated, “I definitely think that Sabrina will bring more fans to the WNBA. She is one of the best players, male or female, to play in the NCAA and she even had her season cut short before she could make more history. However, I don’t think all of the popularity will come from Sabrina. I think that the legacy left by Kobe and Gigi Bryant will bring the awareness to women’s sports that they wanted.”
Was there any shock in the draft’s top picks? Eagleson said, “I can’t say I was really surprised by many of the picks. Oregon, South Carolina, and UConn all had their fair share of draftees which is understandable because they were the best teams in the nation. I watched a few UConn games this year and was happy to see that Crystal Dangerfield went in the second round. She is a 5 foot 5 point guard and is the real deal. I read where the Minnesota Lynx needed a point guard so hopefully, she will get a lot of time in her rookie season.” When she was asked about the draft format, Eagleson responded, “I thought that no matter how it was done, it was special that they were still able to have the draft. It gives me hope that things will still be able to happen on time for next season. I also loved that they had Gigi, Alyssa, and Payton as honorary draftees. That was the best part.”
Fans are wishing good luck to all the picks and hoping all of them will have very successful rookie years and career in the very talented WNBA!