A’ja Wilson projects Rhyne Howard as No. 1 WNBA Draft pick

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A’ja Wilson is looking ahead to the 2022 WNBA Draft, predicting Kentucky guard Rhyne Howard will go No. 1 overall to the Washington Mystics.

“Her speed and her IQ is really there,” Wilson says of Howard on the latest episode of NETLIFE with host Dawn Staley.

The Mystics, who won the WNBA draft lottery in December, have the opportunity to add to a roster that already includes Elena Delle Donne, Myisha Hines-Allen, Natasha Cloud, Ariel Atkins, Alysha Clark and Elizabeth Williams. Baylor’s NaLyssa Smith, Michigan’s Naz Hillmon and Ole Miss’ Shakira Austin join Howard as projected top picks heading into the 2022 draft.

“Our league is getting bigger, faster and stronger by the draft class, so you just have to focus on your game, make sure you put in that work,” Wilson says.

The Las Vegas Aces star opened up about entering the WNBA as the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2018 and playing under the league’s rookie contract for four years. The league ratified a new CBA in 2020 that increased player salaries, scaled for rookies based on where they were selected in the draft.

“It wasn’t fun, because when the numbers come out and you see that someone that’s entered the league after you is making more than you and you’re a No. 1 draft pick, it makes you want to grind even more,” says Wilson, the WNBA’s 2018 Rookie of the Year and 2020 MVP.

Last season, her fourth in the league, Wilson focused on locking down her next contract. “Going into my fourth year, I was like I am trying to get paid,” she says.

In February, the Aces announced they had re-signed Wilson to a multi-year contract, reported to be worth $398,000 over two years.

Listen to the full conversation on the NETLIFE podcast.