As the women’s college basketball season approaches its conclusion, many players have to decide whether to declare for the WNBA draft or return for another year.
The WNBA requires that draft entrants be at least 22 years old during the year in which the draft takes place. Additionally, they cannot have any remaining college eligibility or must renounce any remaining eligibility.
With the draft coming up on April 11 in New York City, there will be plenty of players declaring in the coming weeks. Just Women’s Sports is tracking those who have declared for the draft – or opted to return to their teams.
Senior forward Victaria Saxton announced Wednesday that she will return to South Carolina for another year. A veteran presence on the team, coach Dawn Staley called her a key piece to the Gamecocks’ tournament.
“We don’t get here without Victaria (Saxton),” Staley said before the Elite Eight. “We don’t. She is Teflon. She takes falls. She gives up weight and girth, quickness. Every game there is something that there is a disadvantage for her, and she is just sheer will.”
One of the team’s top rebounders (5.8 per game), Saxton will be a key piece as the team looks to make back-to-back title runs.
On Monday, Lexie Hull announced that she would not be returning for one more year at Stanford. The senior guard announced the decision via social media.
Her next chapter awaits ❤️#GoStanford pic.twitter.com/tCdoZSKViV— Stanford Women’s Basketball (@StanfordWBB) April 4, 2022
Her next chapter awaits ❤️#GoStanford pic.twitter.com/tCdoZSKViV
“It truly has taken a village and without you all, I would not have gotten where I am today, so thank you for making this all possible,” said Hull. “It was an honor to put on a Stanford jersey.”
She also thanked her twin sister, Lacie, “for being my best friend through it all.” The two have played together at Stanford for the entirety of their collegiate experience.
Hull was a major piece of Stanford’s team the past four years, helping lead the Cardinal to one national championship, two Final Fours, two Pack-12 regular season championships and three Pac-12 Tournament championships.
NC State star Elissa Cunane has officially declared for the WNBA Draft, announcing the news on Wednesday. After four seasons with the Wolfpack, Cunane holds three ACC tournament championships, two ACC tournament MVP awards and two ACC regular-season titles.
“I am truly thankful for my four years at NC State and everyone who made it all possible,” said Cunane. “With that being said, I am declaring for the 2022 WNBA Draft.”
Cunane is projected as a top-10 draft pick.
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Naz Hillmon announced her decision to enter her name into the WNBA Draft, posting an emotional message to social media.
“I am humbled to announce that I have entered my name into the WNBA Draft! I am forever thankful for the opportunities I have had, the people that I have met and the lifelong experience that Michigan has afforded to me,” wrote Hillmon.
The senior is the first-ever Wolverine player to notch 2,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds, finishing her last Michigan season averaging 21.0 points and 9.6 rebounds.
Hillmon is projected to be a first-round draft pick, with many suspecting she will be selected fifth overall by the New York Liberty.
💙〽️ pic.twitter.com/AipnmjhEw7— Naz Hillmon (@nazhillmon) March 31, 2022
Players include Ole Miss’ Shakira Austin, Louisville’s Emily Engstler, Florida Gulf Coast’s Kiersten Bell and many more. The full list is available on the WNBA website.
Those players whose college teams are still alive in the postseason and who have remaining years of NCAA eligibility will have 48 hours after the end of their final game to renounce their eligibility and declare for the draft.
Nyara Sabally, a fourth-year sophomore forward for the Ducks, was the team’s top scorer and rebound in 2022. A projected No. 4 overall pick, she averaged 15.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.
Sabally is the younger sister of Satou Sabally, who also played at Oregon and is now with the Dallas Wings.
“It was an honor to put on the Ducks jersey and play at Matthew Knight. I will forever cherish my time here, and I hope that I was able to inspire the people in Eugene that have shown me unwavering support the past four years,” Nyara Sabally said.
The Ducks made the NCAA tournament this year as a fifth seed but lost in double overtime to No. 12 Belmont 73-70 in the opening round.
Tennessee’s Rae Burrell also announced that she is entering her name in the pool of WNBA draft players. In four years with the Lady Vols, Burrell averaged 10.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game.
She had a breakout junior season, averaging 16.8 points and 4.6 rebounds before being sidelined with a knee injury for the first half of her senior season. But she rebounded well, averaging 15.3 points and 5.5 rebounds in the postseason en route to the Sweet 16.
One of the bigger question marks coming out of the season, Ashley Joens announced Monday that she will return for a fifth season with the Cyclones.
Joens has been a big piece of the Cyclones’ core, starting in every game for Iowa State since her freshman year. Throughout her career she has averaged 18.8 points and 8.6 rebounds through 126 career games. She also broke Angie Welle’s program record of 2,149 career points this season, finishing with 2,369 points.
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“This team is special,” Joens said in an announcement posted to her social media accounts. “We have more to accomplish, and I can’t wait to play another year with all of them!”
Northwestern standout Veronica Burton announced Friday that she will be headed to the 2022 WNBA Draft. One of the nation’s best players in 2022, she averaged 17.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 4.0 steals. She’s the first Northwestern women’s basketball player to be named to an AP All-America team, earning Third Team honors.
After winning her third consecutive Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award, Burton was named the WBCA Defensive Player of the Year on Monday. She’s the first Big Ten student-athlete to win the award.
ESPN currently has Burton projected to go 11th overall.
Veronica Burton is the best defender in the country. 👑@WBCA1981 verified. That’s respect. #GoCats pic.twitter.com/Fnrfgw8xTF— Northwestern Women’s Basketball (@nuwbball) March 28, 2022
Veronica Burton is the best defender in the country. 👑@WBCA1981 verified. That’s respect. #GoCats pic.twitter.com/Fnrfgw8xTF