All Scores

WNBA draft lottery: Five players who could top 2023 draft class

Stanford’s Haley Jones can make an impact at any position. (James Snook/USA TODAY Sports)

With the WNBA draft lottery set to take place Friday, attention will turn to potential draft picks. The Atlanta Dream, Washington Mystics, Indiana Fever and Minnesota Lynx all have a shot at securing the No. 1 pick in the lottery, which will air at 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

There’s plenty of talent to choose from at the college level, and a few of those players will be on the court after the lottery, as No. 1 South Carolina takes on No. 17 Maryland.

Just Women’s Sports looks at five college players with professional potential for WNBA teams (and fans!) to keep an eye on this season:

Aliyah Boston, South Carolina

Much of the draft order is up for debate, but I don’t think anyone is arguing when it comes to the first overall pick. That spot belongs to Boston, the reigning Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Wooden Award winner… you get the idea.

The best part about Boston’s game is that from offense to defense – or vice versa – there is no drop-off. She’s a great rim protector and help defender while also being an efficient, strong scorer on offense. The 6-foot-5 forward averaged 16.8 points and 12.5 rebounds a game last season while shooting 54% from the field.

Boston’s one weakness is that she doesn’t extend the floor by shooting 3s. But another Gamecock, A’ja Wilson, didn’t shoot 3-pointers in college, and she was able to extend her range once she got to the WNBA.

Diamond Miller, Maryland

In many ways, Miller is the perfect prospect. She’s versatile, with a great build for the next level – 6-foot-3 with long limbs – and has shown proficiency in almost every category.

Miller has a lot of raw skills and there is still untapped potential within her game. But she already does well in several areas that the WNBA values, such as running the court and playing multiple positions.

She battled injuries last season and because of that actually saw her production dip from the season before – as a sophomore, Miller averaged 17.3 points and 5.8 rebounds a game, compared to 13.1 points, 4.0 rebounds as a junior. I’d like to see her shoot a bit better this season, improving on 40.8% from the field and 31.6% from 3-point range. Her form is slightly jerky, so there may be some adjustments to be made when she becomes a pro.

Haley Jones, Stanford

Her value is super high because Jones is truly positionless. She’s played in the post, at the point guard spot and everywhere in between for the Cardinals over the last three seasons.

Another thing WNBA teams will love is her maturity. She bounces back the same whether win or lose. She’s also a great playmaker, with a high basketball IQ and elite court vision.

The biggest weakness I see for Jones: She’s not going to break people down off the dribble, and with more isolation ball popping up in the WNBA, some teams may want that. But there is still plenty of room in the league for a player like her, whether or not she can blow by defenders.

Ashley Joens, Iowa State

The Iowa State star popped up on plenty of draft boards last season, but she chose to come back for one more year as a Cyclone.

The fifth-year remains an exciting prospect because of her array of skills. Versatility is key in the WNBA, so you will see that as a factor throughout this list, and Joens fits the bill. She’s 6-foot-1 but has surprising strength for her size, and she can play three positions – guard, point guard or forward.

Joens averaged 20.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game last season, and she can score from the inside out, shooting from long range at a 37.6% clip last season. Her post game makes her an asset as well, as she is capable of scoring on smaller guards in the paint.

Her weak spot is defense, and at the WNBA level she may struggle to stay in front of quicker guards. But she fills so many holes offensively that plenty of teams should be willing to overlook that aspect of her game.

img
Ashley Joens (center) has started in every game for Iowa State since her freshman year. (Nirmalendu Majumdar/USA TODAY NETWORK)

Elizabeth Kitley, Virginia Tech

One of the few true centers in the NCAA, Kitley has carved out an impressive career at Virginia Tech. And this season, she has All-American potential.

She’s 6-foot-6, which already will turn heads, and she averages 18.1 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.

Kitley’s best asset is her body control, which helps her on offense and defense. Offensively, she boasts great awareness when it comes to the position of her defender, help defenders and double-teams, often scoring without having to dribble – and that will be especially important with the athleticism of WNBA guards coming down to help. Defensively, she’s able to block shots without fouling and rarely has to sit due to foul trouble.

Kitley isn’t going to blow you away with her footspeed or athleticism, a weakness she’s overcome at the college level but that may require more adjustment in the WNBA. Other than that, her main weakness is a lack of an outside game. But Kitley has great form out to the free-throw line, so a 3-point shot likely could come with practice.

Caitlin Clark dunks on Michael Che in surprise SNL appearance

(Julia Hansen/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK)

Caitlin Clark made a surprise appearance on “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend, which quickly went viral.

The Iowa star showed up on the show’s Weekend Update segment to playfully call out Michael Che’s history of making jabs at women’s sports.

It started when Che joked that Iowa should replace Clark’s retired No. 22 “with an apron.” 

When Clark entered, Che said that he was a fan. But Clark wasn’t convinced – especially not when co-host Colin Jost brought the receipts of Che’s jabs.

“Really, Michael? Because I heard that little apron joke you did,” she said, before making him read some jokes of her own in retaliation. Clark finished her segment by shouting out the WNBA greats that came before her. She then got in one final dig – bringing Che a signed apron as a souvenir. 

When Che promised to give it to his girlfriend, Clark delivered her last playful dig of the night.

“You don’t have a girlfriend, Michael,” she said.

Afterward, SNL castmember Bowen Yang told People that the 22-year-old and teammates Gabbie Marshall, Kate Martin and Jada Gyamfi – who joined her at Studio 8H – “were so cool.”

“She's so charming and witty,” Yang said. “They were just the most stunning, noble people.

“Athletes just have this air about them. They know they're amazing. I mean, these are people who have numeric attachments and values to their performance. That's something that comedians never have.”

Portland Thorns, in uncharted territory, start NWSL season winless

Portland has started the season winless through four games for the first time. (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)

The Portland Thorns continue to struggle to start the NWSL season, falling 2-0 to the North Carolina Courage over the weekend to remain winless through their first four games. 

It’s uncharted territory for Portland, who has never started the NWSL regular season without a win in four games before.

Following the loss, defender Becky Sauerbrunn voiced her frustrations with the start. 

“It’s hard to find a lot of encouraging things, but what I find encouraging is that people are frustrated,” she said. “People are pissed off that we’re not doing well. We care, and I think that’s really important.” 

She also added that while the team will reflect individually, “there’s going to be no finger pointing.”

“We’re going to look at ourselves and figure out what we should have done, or I should have done better,” she said. “There is a list of things that I could have done better, and I’m going to make sure I know every single thing and watch this game back.”

The Thorns currently sit at the bottom of the league table with just one point, having allowed 10 goals – tied for the worst in the league. They’ve yet to lead in a match. And as questions grow, attention turns to head coach Mike Norris. 

Norris is in his second year as head coach of the club after leading the team to a second-place finish in the regular season last year. When asked about the possibility of pressure growing after the unprecedented start, Norris said that the pressure has been there “from day one.”

“I cannot be driven by my day-to-day and the longer vision of the pressure of the job,” he said. “We’ve got a belief in how we want to play, how we operate. We’ve got to stick with the process of that. While we do it, we have to review and see what is working, what’s not working.

“I’ll be showing up for the team and being there for what they need from me as we approach getting back together as a group next week.”

Maria Sanchez reportedly requests trade from Houston Dash

Mar 23, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Dash forward Maria Sanchez (7) warms up before the match between Racing Louisville and Houston Dash at Shell Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Maria Sanchez, who signed one of the biggest deals in NWSL history just four months ago, has reportedly requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

ESPN was the first to report the news, which was confirmed by multiple sources.

In a statement to ESPN, the team said: “​​Maria Sanchez is under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the Dash worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. At the time, it was the largest contract in NWSL history – something that was eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

The winger was a restricted free agent in the offseason, meaning that Houston could match any offer from another team and retain her rights. Should the team trade Sanchez, her contract would remain as it has been signed with the league. That limits the number of teams that could take on her contract. 

In three starts with the Dash this season, Sanchez has zero goals and an assist. The Dash are 1-2-1 through four games and have allowed a league-worst 10 goals.

The team hired a new coach, Fran Alonso, in December. Earlier this year, former goalkeeper coach Matt Lampson was fired for violating the league’s Coach Code of Conduct and Anti-Fraternization policy. 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close at midnight ET on Friday.

Canada beats U.S. Hockey 6-5 in thrilling World Championship win

UTICA, NEW YORK - APRIL 14: Team Canada raises the Championship Trophy after winning The Gold by defeating The United States in OT during the 2024 IIHF Women's World Championship Gold Medal game at Adirondack Bank Center on April 14, 2024 in Utica, New York. (Photo by Troy Parla/Getty Images)

Canada got its revenge on Sunday, winning the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship and taking down the U.S. in a 6-5 overtime classic.

Marie-Philip Poulin, a longtime star for Canada, got her first two goals of the tournament, while Danielle Serdachny had the game-winner. 

"I hate to say you're not trying to rely on it, expect it, but I know I've grown to expect it," Canada coach Troy Ryan said of Philip-Poulin. "Tonight was just a whole other level. I could see in her eyes every time we called her name that she was ready to go. It's just special."

The win came after Canada lost 1-0 to the U.S. in the group stage of the tournament. On Sunday, the two teams met for the 22nd time in 23 tournaments in the gold medal game – and the action between the two teams delivered. 

Among those scoring for the U.S. were Megan Keller, Alex Carpenter, Hilary Knight, Laila Edwards and Caroline Harvey. Julia Gosling, Emily Clark and Erin Ambrose had the other three goals for Canada, giving them their 13th World title after falling to the U.S. in last year’s title game in Toronto. 

This year’s game was held in New York, and it was the second-highest scoring final between the two teams. The U.S. won a world championship 7-5 in 2015. 

"Oh man, that feels good to win it on U.S. soil," Canada goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens said after the game. "We owed it to them and owed it to ourselves to win that one."

Canada also denied Knight a record 10th World Championship win, although she did become the most decorated player in women’s world championship history with 14 medals. After the game, Poulin gave Knight a hug on the ice. 

"We just said 'that was unbelievable,'" Poulin said.

U.S. coach John Wroblewski echoed the sentiment that it was an outstanding game after being asked about ending the game on a power-play after leaving too many players on the ice. 

"Instead of talking about the isolated events of tonight's game, I think that normally that's an interesting storyline,” he said. “But I think the entity of an amazing 6-5 game is an amazing hockey game that took place."

Start your morning off right with Just Women’s Sports’ free, 5x-a-week newsletter.