Basking in the afterglow of winning their schools first National Championship, South Carolina kept it’s winning ways in the first round of last night’s WNBA draft.
Gamecock nation had to enjoy seeing Alaina Coates, Allisha Gray, and Kaela Davis get selected in the Top 10 selections. It’s always great for a school to have three selections in the draft, let alone in the first round. All three mentioned Dawn Staley and her staff as a reason for why they feel prepared for this step in their careers.
The 6’4 Coates didn’t get a chance to participate in the end of South Carolina’s championship run, an injury had her cheering from home. Paired with Aja Wilson, to give South Carolina their own version of the twin towers, all Coates did was win during her collegiate career. She’ll be headed to Chicago as they being to reload after the departure of Elena Delle Donne via trade this offseason. In that trade the Sky got Stefanie Dolson and Kahleah Copper, they also switched spots with the Washington Mystics in the draft. That’s how they were in that position to select Alaina. The Sky have an interesting decision to make or maybe not, but it’s a situation that is certainly worth keeping an eye on. The addition of Coates means they now have Dolson and Imani Boyette all in the paint, while they could find away to play some pairing of that trio together. A trade may help them land another piece on the wing, or they would just have a nice trio of young bigs at their disposal. Dolson is a former All-Star, Boyette is a big time rim protector, and Coates has a bit of both of their best qualities. Again, a good problem to have.
Dallas is going through something similar, a rebuild or reload of sorts. Odyssey Sims is now a member of the Los Angeles Sparks, leaving a hole on that Wings roster. Dallas had three picks in the first round, third and fourth and tenth. They selected both of Coates’ teammates with two of those three picks.
Gray was taken fourth, the 6’0 guard played a pivotal role in South Carolina’s championship run. She used her size well, especially on the glass. Pulling down 8.3 rebounds a game, helping to make up for the loss of Coates in that area. She also hit 56.8% from the floor, good enough for 16.5 points a game in that tournament run. She’s another weapon for the Wings, in that she has the size to guard down and maybe one position up. If she’s able to maintain that ability to rebound from that guard position, she gives Dallas an added caveat of being able to push the ball with the same person who got the board. Sims and Skylar Diggins both are more ball-dominant guards and adding Gray may allow the Wings to let Diggins be the floor general and the other pieces to fall in line.
Davis, the daughter of former NBA forward Antonio Davis was taken with the tenth pick. She’s another guard with size, standing 6’2 she’ll give the Wings another versatile piece surrounding Diggins. Davis plays with some of the physicality her father was known for while obviously having a much different game. At 6’2 she will present matchup problems for opposing defenses, she’s a bit more perimeter oriented than Aerial Powers, last year’s first round selection. Wings with size are a premium in this league as more and more of the lines between posts, wings, and guards have continued to blend more and more. Davis also shows the ability to stretch the floor, she shot 34% from beyond the arc this past season. That’s not a great percentage, but it does show that she has the ability to step out and help make up for some of the three point shooting that was lost in Sims departure.