Wrapping Up the Draft

And now, it’s time to put a bow on the 2018 WNBA Draft. I’ve been exploring data surrounding the past drafts, and now we can add in data from this year’s draft. Let’s see how it fits in to history.

First of all, congratulations to A’ja Wilson of South Carolina who was selected by the Las Vegas Aces with the first overall pick. The Aces are now tied with the Phoenix Mercury with three top draft picks each. Only the Seattle Storm has more; the Storm have selected first four times: in 2001, 2002, 2015, and 2016.

This is the first top pick from the University of South Carolina and the 7th time that year’s Wade Trophy winner has gone first. A’ja joins Sue Bird (2002), Seimone Augustus (2006), Maya Moore (2011), Brittney Griner (2013), Breanna Stewart (2016), and Kelsey Plum (2017) and continues the current streak of three years in a row this has happened. The Naismith Player of the Year award has been a better predictor. In addition to the aforementioned winners, Chamique Holdsclaw (1999), Diana Taurasi (2004), Lindsey Harding (2007), Candace Parker (2008) each won the Naismith award and then went on to be drafted #1. Similarly, the AP Player of the Year has gone on to be the top pick nine times.

Two schools saw their first player selected in the 2018 WNBA Draft: George Mason University’s Natalie Butler went 30th overall to Dallas, and Princeton University’s Leslie Robinson went 34th overall to New York.

On the other hand, Tennessee and Connecticut extended their lead at the top of the rankings in terms of number of players taken in the draft. 36 times has a Lady Vol gone from Knoxville to be selected in the WNBA Draft. (Of course, you could make it 37 since Diamond DeShields last attended the University of Tennessee, but she last played in Turkey.) Connecticut is narrowing the gap with three selections in the first round again this year; the Huskies have now had 34 draft selections overall.

The Huskies widened their gap between other schools in terms of selections in the first round, now sitting at 23 total. Fifteen schools have had at least five picks in the first round:

School# First Round Picks
Connecticut23
Tennessee13
Duke11
Stanford9
Georgia8
North Carolina8
Maryland8
Baylor7
Notre Dame7
South Carolina7
LSU7
Oklahoma6
Rutgers5
Purdue5
Ohio State5

The Huskies have also had at least three players selected in the first round in three separate drafts (2002 – 4, 2016 – 3, 2018 – 3). Four other teams have had years with three players selected in the first round: Georgia (2001), Oklahoma (2002), Tennessee (2012), and South Carolina (2017).

In terms of player positions, guards continue to lead the draft with 16 taken this year, though 14 forwards were taken as well, so the gap has narrowed. Centers are still rarest in the game, though six were taken in this year’s draft. But guards dominated the first round with seven of the first 12 picks. Three forwards and two centers went in the first round.

To wrap this up, I’ve attached my latest version of the WNBA Draft Database. For portability and ease of transformation to other forms, it is currently attached as an Excel workbook. For any use of or redistribution of this database, I simply ask that you provide proper attribution back to Across the Timeline. If you find any errors or make any enhancements, please share them with me at wbbtimeline@gmail.com so I can incorporate new data in future analysis.

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