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Previewing the 2020 WNBA Draft

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Everything you need to know for Friday night.

Phoenix Mercury v Los Angeles Sparks Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

The 2020 WNBA Draft is set to begin this Friday night at 7 p.m. ET, with the New York Liberty set to make the first overall selection. Following a shortened NCAA basketball season, the WNBA is set to welcome 36 of college basketball’s best players from this season.

With three Terps entering their names into the draft as well, Maryland should be in for a continuance of Terps under Brenda Frese reaching the pros.

2020 WNBA Draft

When: Friday, April 17th, 7 p.m. ET
Where: Virtual
TV: ESPN

Terps entering the draft

The marquee name for the Terps in this year’s draft is AP All-American and three-time All-Big Ten First Team honoree Kaila Charles. Charles capped her Maryland career with Big Ten titles in both the tournament and regular season, leading the Terps to 17 straight wins to close the 2020 season. Though she didn’t have the opportunity to lead her team into the NCAA Tournament, Charles will almost certainly hear her name called within the first two rounds of Friday’s draft.

“I’ve been dreaming about this since I started playing basketball,” Charles told Testudo Times on last week’s ouTTakes podcast. “I’m so excited to see how things unfold on [draft night] because this is a day I’ve been waiting for and working for for a long time. So I’m ready to just see what happens.”

A four-year starter under Brenda Frese, Charles scored 1,984 points in 135 games as a Terp, putting her sixth on the program’s all-time scoring list. Many of the players ahead of her on that list, like Kristi Toliver, Alyssa Thomas and Crystal Langhorne, are current WNBA players with established careers at the next level.

With draft day drawing closer, Charles wasted no time reaching out for advice for her next chapter.

“I’ve reached out to a couple [former Terps] and they’ve all given me good advice getting ready for this,” Charles told Testudo Times. “They told me, ‘You’re gonna have to work for your spot’, because when you get there they already have a 12-person roster and it’s all about taking somebody’s spot and earning it and working for it so you can keep it.”

Another Terp that figures to crack a WNBA roster next season is forward Stephanie Jones. Nicknamed “Miss Consistency” by Frese, Jones put together a strong season in 2020 for Maryland, averaging 11.3 points while shooting over 60 percent from the field.

Jones is projected to be selected closer to the third round, with some mock drafts seeing her land with the Connecticut Sun with her older sister and former Terp, Brionna Jones.

The last Terp that could make her way on a WNBA roster is guard Blair Watson. Watson had been a fixture in Maryland’s starting lineup since her sophomore year, starting 77 of 82 games since the 2017 season. Shooting 35.7 percent from deep in her Terp career and swiping 209 steals (including 91 her senior season), Watson represents the ideal 3&D prospect for potential WNBA teams.

“They know how to win, they know how to work,” head coach Brenda Frese told Testudo Times of her senior class. “I thought what separated this senior class and why we were able to do so well this year is they didn’t care who got the credit. ... They were a team, they were cohesive, they were a team full of sisters — and those are the kind of culture players, the winning mentality that you want in a locker room as a coach.”

The top prospects

Headlining this year’s class is Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu, who, in spite of the shortened season, finished her collegiate career as one of the most decorated players in NCAA history.

Averaging 17.5 points and 9.1 assists per game in 2020, she took home this year’s Naismith Player of the Year award and Wooden Award and became the first player in Division I history (male or female) to record 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds. Ionescu is no doubt headed for New York, where she’ll pair up with last year’s No. 2 overall pick Asia Durr.

Ionescu is also just one of three Oregon Ducks expected to go in the first round of this year’s draft, as starting forwards Satou Sabally and Ruthy Hebard have been consistently mocked inside the top 12 selections. As the projected No. 2 pick, Sabally decided to forgo her final year of eligibility after receiving this year’s Cheryl Miller Award for the nation’s best small forward by averaging 16.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per contest.

Along with the Pac-12, the SEC figures to be well-represented at this year’s draft as well. National power Baylor will send Lauren Cox to this year’s draft, with the 6’4 forward projected to be a lottery pick. A starter for each of the last three seasons, Cox is a polished interior presence with the ability to shoot and defend the rim as well. Most mocks are split between Sabally and Cox as the No. 2 selection, so which direction the Dallas Wings decide to go should be interesting to watch.

Rounding out the top prospects in this year’s draft is Texas A&M’s star point guard Chennedy Carter. Leading the Aggies this year in scoring with 21.3 points per game as a junior, Carter is one of the most gifted scorers in this year’s class. She’s expected to be the second point guard off the board after Ionescu, but whichever team lands Carter will add an instant scoring punch.

Familiar faces going pro

As a result of their top-tier strength of schedule, many of the 2020 draft’s more promising prospects shared the floor with this year’s Terps squad.

Two of the top prospects in this year’s class, guard Tyasha Harris and forward Mikiah Herbert Harrigan, come from South Carolina, who the Terps faced off against in the second game of the 2019-20 season. The senior duo were two of four players that averaged double-digit points for the Gamecocks this season, leading the team to the nation’s No. 1 ranking to finish the season.

Though both are projected first round picks, Maryland managed to hold Harris and Herbert Harrigan in check when they visited College Park. The two combined to shoot 7-for-26 for just 21 points in their matchup back in November, but South Carolina came out on top with a 63-54 victory.

A few of the Big Ten’s best seniors could be headed to the association as well. Senior Iowa guard Kathleen Doyle took home this year’s Big Ten Player of the Year award, doing so by averaging 18.3 points and 6.2 assists to help lead the Hawkeyes to a top-three finish in the conference. Slated to fall somewhere between the second and third rounds, Doyle lit the Terps up in their first matchup this season with 21 points and averaged over 13 points per game against Maryland in her collegiate career.

Northwestern forward Abi Scheid is also pursuing a career in the WNBA after four dominant seasons in Evanston under head coach Joe McKeown. She received All-Big Ten First Team honors for the first time in her final season with the Wildcats, averaging 11.5 points per game this season while scoring over 10 points per game over her career against the Terps.