Transcript: Rebecca Lobo, Andraya Carter, and Sara Gaiero {Vice President of Production}, Preview the WNBA Draft 2024 presented by State Farm®


Transcript: Rebecca Lobo, Andraya Carter, and Sara Gaiero {Vice President of Production}, Preview the WNBA Draft 2024 presented by State Farm®

ESPN’s 2024 WNBA Draft Presented by State Farm® analysts Rebecca Lobo and Andraya Carter answered questions on Thursday, April 11 via Zoom to preview the 2024 WNBA Draft Presented by State Farm®.  Lobo and Carter will provide commentary for ESPN’s coverage, Monday, April 15, at 7:30 p.m. ET from the historic Brooklyn Academy of Music in Brooklyn, N.Y.

In addition, Sara Gaiero, ESPN Vice President, Production, discussed the production highlights for the 2024 WNBA Draft Presented by State Farm®

Details of ESPN’s coverage plan for the 2024 WNBA Draft Presented by State Farm®.


SARA GAIERO: Thanks, everybody. Really appreciate everybody joining us today. Thrilled to have everybody in this forum to talk about our upcoming coverage. Do just want to take a moment to thank many of you on this call for the tremendous and outstanding coverage that you all provided of our NCAA women’s tournament that we just concluded. Really excited about what that tournament turned out to be. It was historic. It was memorable. It was entertaining. There was so much energy behind it. Again, kudos to all of you on this call who participated in lifting the coverage of that tournament up even more.

We look to ride that momentum straight into Monday night with our WNBA Draft. We’re thrilled with the coverage and production team and announce teams that we have in place for Monday night. As Ron (Howard) mentioned, we will start our coverage at 7:00 p.m. with WNBA Countdown, which is a first for us to have our WNBA Countdown pregame show on site leading into the draft. So, we’re really excited with that.

LaChina Robinson will lead our coverage of that show, alongside Carolyn Peck and Chiney Ogwumike. Then we’ll transition at 7:30 into the theater with our live coverage of the draft itself. On the desk there we’ll have Ryan Ruocco, Rebecca Lobo. We are thrilled to welcome Andraya Carter to the desk there, and then Holly Rowe doing interviews with the draftees.

Tremendous team that we have on-site on Monday, which is really exciting. From a coverage perspective we have a really healthy complement that we’re bringing to the Brooklyn Academy of Music to help us document the event that night in terms of cameras and all the other things around it. Really the hope is that we can capture the beauty of what that theater brings, and with this new venue, incorporate that into our overall coverage because it’ll be unique and different. We’re excited that there will be fans in the stands or in the theater to partake in all of the night’s festivities. So, we’ll incorporate all of that and weave that in throughout our coverage throughout the night.

Then from a content perspective, really, we’re focusing on the athletes and the draftees that night. This is their night. We’re thrilled to watch them get to this moment of their careers and be the historians of bringing that to all of you.  Like we’ve done in years past, we’ll celebrate their achievements. We’ll do quick lookbacks on some of the major accomplishments that they’ve had this season, and then we’ll spin it forward. We’re going to really talk about what it’s going to be like with these new dynamic athletes coming into the league, how will they fit, how will they integrate with some of these teams, and really, we’ll spin it forward and start talking about this next chapter of their careers.

Then we’ll provide coverage throughout the day into our shoulder programming with SportsCenter and some of the talk shows throughout the day. So collectively from an ESPN perspective, we’ll have pretty robust coverage throughout the day leading into our on-site coverage with Countdown at 7:00.  Those are some treetops. Happy to answer any questions that you guys have.

Q. Sara, it’s a pretty unique setup that you guys get to go from college right through the draft and into the pros with the same players. From an operations perspective, though, and from just a production and storytelling perspective, how are you guys handling this massive event that just happened, then going right into the draft and preparing for a WNBA season that’s right around the corner?

SARA GAIERO: We have the benefit of having a great team. I have the benefit of having a great team around me to carry us through what you just mentioned, our women’s college basketball season into the women’s tournament and the WNBA. Our operations team is consistent across those three events. It certainly makes for some very busy weeks throughout March and early April, but we have a pretty robust team working on the projects. We have experience working on the projects. So that helps, as well.

Then we’ve learned a lot just in the last couple years that we’re bringing that experience into what we need to do specifically at this event. So, this is a new venue for us. We started having meetings with our league counterparts as early as last October, to be candid with you. We started talking about what could the venue be, not this one specifically but if we’re changing, what does that look like. So, we’ve had really collaborative conversations with the league, and that has helped position us to come into this new venue this weekend and really hit the ground running.

Q. Have the production levels or the size of the show grown obviously as the interest has grown over the last month or so or even throughout the regular season?

SARA GAIERO: Yeah, yeah, it has. We’re somewhat limited to what the venue can provide, but we really tried to take a look at it where we brought Countdown with us on-site so we have a whole different WNBA Countdown setup that’s separate from what we will do inside the theater, and then inside the theater positioning our cameras in such a way to capture the entire vibe of the theater, and that’s, again, different from the venue that we were in last year.

So, we’ll scale with the venue and then with the event, as well.

Q. For both analysts, just in terms of — what kind of draft is this? Is it a draft for stars or is it a draft for strength? What do you see Minnesota looking at going into draft aspects?

REBECCA LOBO: I can start if that’s all right with Andraya. Certainly we have a star coming into this draft kind of unlike anyone we’ve seen coming into the draft, in terms of popularity and how many people are excited about watching her play in the WNBA and watching on television in terms of Caitlin Clark, but of course there are some other players that people are really excited about thinking they could be long-term pros and potential long-term All-Stars in this league. I think included in that is Cameron Brink and Rickea Jackson, Kamilla Cardoso.

This is a little bit more of an — the upper tier a little bit more of a bigs draft in terms of the players I mentioned: Cardoso, Brink, Aaliyah Edwards, Rickea Jackson, if you want to think of her in the realm of bigs, and a little bit thinner when you’re looking at really impactful guards say 1 through 8.

Minnesota specifically, this is a team that could use a stretch 4. Will there be a stretch 4 available at their pick? I don’t know, but it’s also a team that has done a pretty good job of solidifying their roster with free agency. So, in the first round you could potentially also see a pick there, kind of a deferral pick, an international player that perhaps won’t come over and play this year.

Q. For both analysts, how will Caitlin’s game translate to the next level, and what will some of her biggest challenges be?

ANDRAYA CARTER: Yeah, I think Caitlin’s game translates immediately just in terms of her range, her ability to hit shots, and her vision. People talk about Caitlin’s scoring, but her passing is next level. Like when we say next level, she’s been a pro passer as well in her game. So, when you think about her playing alongside Aliyah Boston, NaLyssa, when you think of her playing with Kelsey Mitchell, her ability to find her teammates and set them up for success I think will immediately translate because people will probably defend her like she’s a scorer.

Her range, her passing — when you watch Caitlin play in college, she makes the right decisions. You say play the right way. She makes the right reads. She gets the ball where it’s supposed to go. I think that translates.

Challenge-wise, the physicality of going against grown women is going to be tough. The hits are going to be a little bit harder, the checks are going to be harder. The defense is going to be more physical, and the players will be faster. Just getting everybody that goes from college to the next level, talks about the speed of the game. Everything is going to be faster. Everything is going to be tougher.

So that, and then defending. I think any star that comes into the game, teams want to challenge them defensively. So, I think that when I imagine different guards going against Caitlin, they’re going to want to try and take her off the bounce. They’re going to want to try and challenge her defense. Defensive physicality I think in general could be where she’s challenged, but I think her game translates right away.

REBECCA LOBO: You know, I agree with everything that Andraya said. I’m really excited to see Caitlin surrounded by the players that are already on the Indiana team because her vision is next level, and I’m eager to see players around her who can consistently see what she sees and finish what she delivers to them.

I think Caitlin kind of had the perfect complement of players around her at the college level where she could do everything to help them maximize their skill sets. Kelsey Mitchell is an outstanding catch-and-shoot when it comes to three-point shots. I’m eager to see Caitlin set her up. I’m eager to see her in a pick-and-roll with Aliyah Boston. I’m eager to see NaLyssa Smith getting rim runs and getting the ball delivered to her like she never has before.

There will be challenges, but at the same time, the talent around her is also going to be better, so I’m excited to see what that looks like in particular on the offensive end of the floor.

Q. We’ve had a few years now of the transfer portal. What are your thoughts on how it’s affected the prospect pool and the influx of foreign players, young foreign players, who didn’t play in the U.S. college system?

REBECCA LOBO: I don’t know that there’s a correlation between the transfer portal and anything that we’re seeing in terms of international players. Each team has done a good job for years scouting the international game. I don’t think there’s a correlation there in terms of anything. More than the transfer portal, the COVID year has had a really big impact, and I think all of the WNBA teams are eager for next year to come, just so that they know which players are going to be available to be drafted. As short as maybe a week or two ago, there are some players who were eligible to be in the draft, but people didn’t know because they had not yet declared. I think the COVID year is a lot more impactful on the draft than the portal.

Q. Curious how do you think this draft class is different on the court, and what impact do you think this draft class will have off the court, just speaking as a draft class as a whole, not just the top picks?

REBECCA LOBO: I think off the court — well, they’re going to be impactful on the court, especially the players that go to teams where there’s situations where they’re going to get a lot of chances to play, whether it’s Caitlin in Minnesota or if Brink either goes 2 or 3 or 4 to LA or Chicago. Those are players that are going to have a lot of opportunity to play.

So, depending on which team you go to and the fit and the minutes that you get, there are players that can have significant impacts on their team.

In terms of off the court, I don’t know. Caitlin is kind of in a world of her own, but I don’t know that we have seen this kind of excitement across the board. Angel Reese has a massive following. Cameron Brink has a large following of people, whether it’s following them on social media or following them throughout the course of their college career.

We have women coming into the draft this year who people are very much aware of and eager to see how their game is going to translate at this level, and I don’t know if we have — even Caitlin aside because of how NIL has changed things, I don’t know that we’ve ever seen an entire class that has this much attention off the floor that they are also going to bring to their on-court performance here in the W.

Q. For Andraya, going off that, what would you like to see the WNBA as a league do to maybe improve the fan experience for new viewers who are watching this draft and who know these players in college and know their stories and now are going to watch WNBA because of them? What would you like to see the league do to maybe improve the fan experience?

ANDRAYA CARTER: This is the first time we’re going to have fans at the draft, so I think that’s going to be special. Like for people watching at home to see and hear a crowd and fans and people there I think will be really exciting.

Then for the league in general, throughout the season, just sharing stories, pushing stories, especially for some of these rookies. A lot of things should be put out about their experience in the league so that they can speak to the fans and encourage fans to come. Like there are a lot of people, like Rebecca said, that are really connected to these rookies.

The league can use that to show these fans what the W is all about and what makes it special. Hearing from the rookies is going to be, I think, pivotal as far as getting some of those fans to buy into how hard this league is, how great this league is, how fun it is and just their experience as a whole.

I think the more we can put out about them and their teams and the veterans on their teams and the challenges of the W through the rookies could really help because, like Rebecca said, these rookies have huge followings. We want those followings to buy into how special the W is, and a lot of these rookies are really excited to play in the WNBA for that very reason. Using that I think would be cool.

It’s the first time in a while — we had fans a while back, but first time in a while that we’ve had fans at the draft, so I think that coupled with this class coming in, these rookies coming in I think will be exciting.

Q. Question for both of y’all, if you could just evaluate Kamilla Cardoso as a prospect and in this NCAA Tournament. Did she do enough to elevate herself to a potential No. 3 pick, No. 2 overall pick? How much did she increase her stock with what she did over this last month?

REBECCA LOBO: I think Kamilla is in the conversation for No. 2. I think, especially how she performed over the last month of the season, she was dominant. A lot of people have been talking about her ability to run the floor as a 6’7″ post player and her relentlessness in doing it in every single possession.

When she demands the basketball, which she did every possession over the course of the last month of the season, she just has to demand extra attention inside, and she’s very good at passing out of double-teams. She’s a very good rim protector on the interior.

I think especially the effort with which she played, again, over the last three or four weeks of the season really opened a lot of people’s eyes. Before that, was she going to be a lottery pick?

Most likely yes, but certainly solidified her position in the top 4 and potentially in the top 2 or 3.

Q. I wanted to ask a little bit about the venue. With there being so much growth with women’s basketball and the fact that this will be the first draft in a while with fans, I just wanted to get your thoughts as far as how would you feel in the future about the WNBA deciding to take the draft on the road the way we’ve seen with other leagues?

SARA GAIERO: I think, as Draya noted, it is really exciting to have fans in the crowd this season. I think we’ll sort of see — I do believe it was done in a smaller scale in previous years but not for a while here now. So, I think it’ll be amazing to see what it’s like and what that feel and what that vibe and what that energy is like on Monday night.

I think, yes, as the sport continues to grow, we have to be realistic about how the draft can grow with it. I don’t want to speak for my league counterparts and what their vision is for that, but from a production/ESPN standpoint, we’re certainly here to provide the best product and that will be most entertaining and most enjoyable for the fans but also for the draftees that are there and all the people that want to participate and partake in that moment. I think we have to be reasonable to look at the growth and really assess what’s the best thing to do.

Q. Question for you guys about the investment that some teams are making in infrastructure and building state-of-the-art facilities and what do you think that will mean for the ongoing evolution of the league and also for the development of some of these players?

ANDRAYA CARTER: I think it’s special. I think it’s what every team deserves. It’s what every player in this league deserves. The W, we have the best players in the world, and they deserve the best facilities. I got an email here recently that did like a video of Phoenix’s new facility, and it was almost like a flyover drone through the facility, and it looked beautiful. All I could think about was that’s what these players deserve. As someone that covers the NBA and has been to different NBA venues all season and seeing their facilities, when you want to take care of your body, when you want to be at your best, when you want to play your best, especially with a packed schedule like the WNBA has, facilities and access, those things are important.

I think that as we see the facilities and the investment in that area increase, we’ll also see performances increase. We’ll see the players need to be taken care of.

I think it’s great. I think it’s time. I’m excited for the players because their health, their wellness feeling like a priority and having those opportunities to have great facilities I think is really important.

Now that some teams have done it, other teams won’t have a choice but to do so because when it comes to free agency or deciding which team you want to go to down the road, facilities are going to be a top priority. I think that we’ll see it across the league at some point, which is good.

REBECCA LOBO: I’m going to add something quickly there, exactly to Draya’s point. It becomes a huge advantage in free agency for the teams that have the higher-level facilities. I think it’s also important with the prioritization rules and more players staying domestically instead of going overseas they will instead of just using the facility during the duration of the season, May through October, it’s something that they will want to have access to year-round, so it becomes even more important.

Q. How do you see Aaliyah Edwards and Nika Muhl? Are they ready for the pro level? Particularly with Nika, how do you think her draft stock improve with her performance on Caitlin Clark on defense in the Final Four?

REBECCA LOBO: I can start there. UConn players are always ready for the WNBA. That’s just a mere fact. You look at Crystal Dangerfield, a couple of years ago, second-round pick and ends up Rookie of the Year. Dorka Juhasz last year I don’t think people expected her to have the type of rookie campaign she had. You hear that continuously when you talk to coaches and GMs who are considering UConn prospects. They know there’s a certain standard there and there’s a professionalism they’re going to get from these young women. In terms of Nika specifically, I had one person say to me they’ve never seen someone’s draft stock rise so much because of one performance in a loss. I think people were certainly aware of Nika Muhl, have watched her play, but her performance in the tournament, I think both on Caitlin Clark defensively and Dyaisha Fair defensively, showed people how impactful she can be on the defensive end as a guard in the WNBA. I think it was huge for her to have that kind of performance on that stage.

ANDRAYA CARTER: I’m just a huge Nika fan. When I think about there are some teams in the league that could use defensive-minded guards. That was one thing I know New York, with them at 11, it’s just ideas — I try to think about where players could go and I’ve talked about teams that need defense, that maybe don’t need scoring. They need someone that can come in and lock up and can also hit open shots, and Nika with that defensive mentality, and that was one of my favorite performances I’ve ever seen. I think that Nika to me, I can see her going in the first round easily with some of those teams that need a defensive-minded guard.

Q. Draya, I wanted to ask you about Rickea Jackson, what we saw from her in the final month of the season and especially against South Carolina in the pick-and-roll as a playmaker, how much more willing she seemed to shoot the three. What do you think of her lost portion of her college career and how she’ll translate into the WNBA this summer?

ANDRAYA CARTER: I think with Rickea she’s special. I was talking to her name is Erin Gutierrez, who is creating a film about Rickea. We were comparing moves. She can make post moves. She can make guard moves. She’s versatile and she has the ability to hit tough shots.

So I think her ability to do at times — at Tennessee she was the only option at times for the Lady Vols to my angst at times, and for her to be on a professional floor with the defensive three seconds and players around her where she can have space to operate, I can see her again hitting some of those tough shots and being aggressive in moments where she needs to.

Rickea also has the ability to pass, whether it’s a skip pass or anything like that. I see Rickea with her shot-making and thinking aggressive making an impact on a team in the W. Like tough shot-making translates, and you would think she’ll have a little more space to operate at the next level.

Q. Can either of you kind of describe what your ideal situation would be for Kamilla Cardoso to come in, just an ideal situation for her to come in, perform, and kind of translate to the WNBA as quickly as possible, and if either of you have a team in mind that would have that situation for her, what would it be?

REBECCA LOBO: Any player’s ideal situation is a lot of minutes, period, especially for a rookie coming into this league. It’s really hard to make a team, number one, and then when you do, it’s sometimes hard to get on the floor. But where she will get picked, she will have those opportunities. If she goes 2 or 4 to LA or if she goes 3 to Chicago, these are teams where she will get minutes. That’s what you want. When you’re a high draft pick the tough thing is you’re going to a team that is in the lottery because they haven’t had a lot of success.

So, you can’t necessarily expect success right away as a lottery pick in terms of wins and losses, but you want to get better, you want to prove to yourself and everyone else the type of player that you are, how your game translates. With her, with any of those teams, whether it’s LA or Chicago, she’s going to have that opportunity to really show what she can do.

Q. For Draya, if you could just speak to working and collaborating with Carolyn Peck, yourself, Elle Duncan, Chiney, what that experience has been like and just to see the evolution?

ANDRAYA CARTER: It’s a dream. It’s honestly incredible to be in a space — it’s funny with Rebecca and giving that answer on Kamilla, I was thinking any rookie wants to go in a situation where they can also be themselves and play to their strengths, and they’re not asked to do anything that they’re not capable of because their teammates are just as good, and that’s what it feels like, and that’s what it felt like at the desk with Carolyn and with the team that we had. It just felt like everyone could be the best version of themselves, and that fit with everyone else for us to reach the end goal of having great broadcasts with that group.

Then with Rebecca included, we were getting texts from Rebecca and Ryan and Holly, and everyone would text us like “great show.” For me to be myself and to have so much fun and again be able to play to my strengths, it was special, and to be at the desk — we’re given stats on the last time the Big Ten won a National Championship. It was Carolyn Peck leading the way. To be next to Hall of Famers like in Elle Duncan and Chiney — for me I looked to my right and to my left and thought, how did I get her because Elle is the greatest. We have Aliyah Boston Rookie of the Year; Chiney Ogwumike won a Wooden Award, playing in the WNBA. So, for me it’s an honor to be next to them, to learn with them and play off of them, and they’re great colleagues but they’re great friends. I was honored every show to be up there.

Q. Rebecca, you mentioned earlier you could see Cardoso going at 2. That would mean she’d be going over Cameron Brink. I’m curious what could be a reason that you might see that happening?

REBECCA LOBO: I think Cameron Brink is going to go 2. I wouldn’t be shocked if Cardoso went 2. Part of that is you have to put the pieces into the Jenga game or into the puzzle, and however that plays out. If you think, all right, Chicago is not going to take Brink at 3 but they might take Cardoso at 3, then you roll the dice and say, all right, then I’m going to take Cardoso at 2, assume they don’t take Brink at 3, and then I can take her at 4. I do think Brink is going to go second, but I would not be shocked if there’s some of that kind of stuff in play.

Q. For Draya, you talked earlier about how the league needs defensive-minded guards. What do you think about Helena Pueyo from Arizona and how her last couple of months of the season went? She was always known as a defensive player, and in the last few months she sort of took her team, the other six players, put them on her back, and they made that run into the NCAA Tournament. How do you think her stock has sort of risen, and what do you think of her showing out that she’s sort of an all-around player now?

ANDRAYA CARTER: I think with Helena, there are some specific games I remember, they had a stretch where they played Stanford, USC, UCLA and then they played USC again, and her in those games was impressive for me. I want to say it was — she had two games with five steals back-to-back, and she had one game with seven assists, six assists, five assists. I think it was against USC the second time, like end of March, six assists, six steals, and you’re like, okay, yeah.

And she can also score. She’s in double figures but she’s also making passes. She’s also making plays on the defensive end. I think Helena, definitely her stock rose as just being an all-around player, as someone that can come in the game and do whatever her team needs, making the right pass, active on defense, or scoring.

I’ve always liked Helena’s game, so I think those are just some that really stand out to me. I want to say in the overtime game against USC, I think she had 20 points and nine rebounds or 21 points, nine rebounds. Like yeah, she’s super active and has the ability to score. I do think that I like her game.

Q. Rebecca, we talk about Caitlin coming into the league, the basketball part she brings, but from a city, franchise, sort of a generational shift that’s coming to Indiana on this one, can you make a comparison to anything previously that felt like this, or is this just — you’ve talked about it at the top being unique?

REBECCA LOBO: There’s no comparison that I can find on the women’s side, and I’ve been in this league since the very beginning. We haven’t seen a player drive ticket sales like this. We haven’t seen a player drive ratings like this. Look at the ratings the last four or five games she played. It’s something she had been doing all season long, never anything to this degree, and to me one of the things that’s kind of special about it is that she’s staying in the Midwest; going to Indiana. It’s such a perfect fit in terms of that.

Would she have done great no matter where she goes? Of course. But a fit in Indiana, maybe the other one would have been Minnesota, but just seems kind of perfect. The hero of the heartland is going to be staying there and leading this team. But in terms of attention, we’ve never, ever, ever seen anything like this. We’ve had great players come into the league. People were excited. What’s Brittney Griner going to look like in the WNBA. What’s Diana Taurasi going to look like. We’ve had that. Never anything close to this.

Q. We all know the big names that are going in the first round. Can you speak of any diamonds in the rough, maybe some players that you think could go second round, third round, that people aren’t really talking about?

REBECCA LOBO: You know, the hardest part of this conversation every year is the reality is that second and third-round picks have a really hard time making WNBA rosters. First-round picks that go late have a hard time making WNBA rosters. We talk about a league of 144. It’s not a league of 144. Many of these teams only carry 11 players and maybe by the end of the season they can carry a 12th.

Have there been second and third-round players that make rosters? Absolutely. But it’s tough. I think you’re also going to see some teams draft internationally this year, whether it’s a couple of players from Australia or from France, and sometimes the reason they draft those players is because they don’t have the room this year to have them on their roster. Liz Kitley, Mackenzie Holmes, two players who will get drafted this year as what we would call a deferral pick because a team might not have room on their roster this year, but know these are players who could help them in the future.

One player who is interesting to me as maybe a sleeper in the first round is Markisha Davis from Ole Miss. She is an elite-level athlete who is a player who a team might not necessarily expect to help them this year, but has a huge upside because of her athletic ability. That’s one player that could be like a sleeper in the first round.

But again, I can’t overstate, this is the hardest league to make a roster spot. Draft night is really exciting, and so we don’t want to necessarily talk about how hard it is on draft night because the second and third rounders have just had their dreams come true. But it’s hard. It’s hard. We’ve even seen in recent years first-round picks who weren’t able to stick their rookie year. It’s tough. It’s tough to find that diamond in the rough who might make a roster in the second and third round.

Q. I wanted to ask both of you guys about Angel Reese. Where do you see her fitting in and how does her game translate from college to the WNBA?

ANDRAYA CARTER: Well, I remember I was talking with Chiney and Chiney obviously being in the league and coming into the league as a rookie, rebounding translates. Rebounding and relentless energy and playing with that spark. I know so many times this season I called Angel relentless, Angel “Relentless” Reese. Spending time watching Angel in practice sometimes, Angel is a thinker. She likes to think the game, she likes to learn the game. I actually think she would do really well learning from veterans and listening and doing whatever the team needed.

But I think the rebounding immediately would be something that would translate, the rebounding and energy for Angel.

Q. If you could evaluate Liz Kitley. I know Rebecca just said she will be a deferral pick because of the injury, but what she brings to the table when she’s healthy and how Kenny Brooks and his staff succeeded in her development and the growth of her skill set over her time at Virginia Tech.

REBECCA LOBO: I can talk about Liz. She brings great size at 6’6″ with a good wingspan. She’s certainly developed her skill set under Kenny. She went from a player who early in her career could get knocked off balance a little bit, until they started using that to her advantage. If you’re going to get knocked off balance, let’s perfect your little fadeaway shot that she has.

One GM or coach was telling me she was a stock riser the last month of her career because she was consistently putting up 20 and 10 kind of numbers and could be unstoppable at times in the college game and proved that she could be a consistent backup 5 in the WNBA.

It’s tough with some of the athletes that play her position in the league in terms of defensively how her game will translate, but certainly a player, especially now that they’re going to have a year to either work with her or help her rehab and get her to where you want her to be next season, but certainly a player who I think a lot of coaches, GMs can be a player who they think can help them, again, at that backup 5 spot.

Q. Rebecca, I worry this is a little related to your comment about how difficult it is to make the league, but Syracuse’s Dyaisha Fair was obviously a tremendous scorer at Syracuse. How do you see her fitting in the WNBA, where teams probably know who their primary scorers are? And if her role isn’t primary scorer, what other attributes does she have?

REBECCA LOBO: I’ve heard her name mentioned as a potential late first round, early to mid second-round pick. Of course, her size is an issue because she’s so small, but she is a player who can get her shot off, especially in a system that likes to push the pace. She is somebody who could come in as a backup guard and really do that well, especially when she was at Buffalo. The past couple years she’s been a primary scorer at Syracuse. When she was at Buffalo there were times where she was really a facilitator. So, people know that she can do that.

She can make shots, and at times in a league that can have some prejudice against small guards, she’s certainly a small guard that is worth taking a risk on because of those things that she can do. She pushes pace really well. She can create and make her own shot, often from deep range, and she does have the ability to get others involved.

Q. I know Rebecca mentioned earlier with Nika being one of the biggest risers from the tournament and Kamilla, as well, how much do you see GMs and coaches weigh a moment in the tournament versus sort of a body of work, especially because the draft is so close to the end of the season?

ANDRAYA CARTER: I think body of work is always important because consistency is something that’s important, but I do think that there is something to be said about meeting the moment, and in a very high-pressure situation performing well and doing exactly what your team needs for success. There are times you could fold or there are times the pressure could be too much. So, for players to rise to the occasion and to have that moment, even if it was like with Nika with the loss, that performance was incredible.

I think meeting the moment and rising to the occasion is definitely something that can not sway but that has to be taken into consideration because it’s a very high-pressure situation.

REBECCA LOBO: I think a little more recently, people are less a prisoner of the moment than they have been in the past and even talking to people saying, is there a diamond in the rough out there, is there a player that’s kind of under the radar and people respond, you don’t really find those anymore because the scouting budgets and the resources that WNBA teams have now, they seeing everybody. The ability to watch every game on television, they really have a great knowledge base for the players that they’re considering in the draft.

But to Draya’s point on the biggest stage, how are you going to perform? And in Nika’s case specifically against the most prolific offensive player in the game, how do you perform, a few games after going against the fourth or fifth most prolific offensive player with Dyaisha Fair.

Then of course everybody who has a high pick and everybody in the first round is doing their interviews now and seeing how that part of the piece fits together, as well. But I think with the resources that WNBA teams are putting into scouting now, they have a very good idea of what they’re looking at by the time draft day rolls around.


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