During the 2023 WNBA Draft on Monday night, the Washington Mystics selected Stephanie Soares with the fourth pick before promptly trading her to the Dallas Wings. In return, the Mystics received picks in the 2024 and 2025 drafts.
Soares was a sought-after prospect in this year’s draft — 6-foot-6 forward who can shoot 3-pointers is hard to come by. But the Mystics were willing to deal her because of the strength of the next two WNBA draft classes.
With a fifth year of NCAA eligibility still on the table for players as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, several of the top upcoming prospects could declare for next year’s draft or the 2025 draft. Between the two, WNBA teams will have a deep group of prospects to choose from. Here are the top 10 in those classes.
The Iowa guard is one of the most well-rounded prospects we’ve seen in a long time. Her scoring, passing and rebounding skills make her a triple-double threat every game and could set her up to be the No. 1 draft pick in 2024 or 2025 (depending on when she declares). Clark is known for her scoring ability — she can shoot from almost anywhere — but it’s her passing ability, both in the halfcourt and on the fastbreak, that makes the Iowa star a potential No. 1 pick.
Brink is the kind of player that will have WNBA coaches and executives salivating. A big with guard skills is one of the most coveted player types as the WNBA continues to evolve into a positionless league. Brink is already a top shot-blocker and scorer on the inside. If she continues to develop her 3-point shot, the Stanford forward will become even more sought after at the next level.
The reigning Final Four Most Outstanding Player arrived at Maryland in 2020 as the top-ranked wing in the country. Over the next two years, she played mostly as a post for the Terrapins. Now at LSU, she does a bit of both. Reese’s versatility makes her a player who can fit on any roster, and she’s polished enough to make an immediate impact. Add in her elite rebounding skills, and Reese can expect to hear her name called early on draft night.
Notre Dame’s point guard is known for her creativity on the court. From facilitating to manufacturing opportunities for herself, it’s hard to predict what Miles will do next. And when it comes to setting up her teammates, there is no one better at understanding tendencies and putting players in positions to score. An injury stopped her from playing in the NCAA Tournament, but I’ve seen enough of Miles to know she’s a future WNBA star.
Jackson was slated to be a top draft pick this year before deciding to come back to Tennessee for a fifth season. She played her first three years at Mississippi State under three different coaches, so the stability of having coach Kellie Harper for two seasons at Tennessee will be great for Jackson’s development. But even without that, she’s a promising prospect. Jackson is a proven scorer who is strong around the basket and can attack off the bounce. Her 6-2 frame is ideal for the WNBA and will be an asset on defense as well.
While a healthy Bueckers could be a No. 1 draft pick, her injuries over the last two seasons are cause for concern. Still, Bueckers was named Player of the Year as a freshman for a reason. She’s been pro-ready since she set foot on UConn’s campus. If she can put together a full season without an injury, the guard will be a top pick. And even if she doesn’t, Bueckers is so skilled that WNBA executives will likely take the risk anyway.
As injuries plagued UConn this season, Edwards proved she can be the centerpiece of a team. No matter who else was on the court, Edwards performed. Like Reese, she was tabbed as a wing coming into college, so she is able to attack off the bounce and defend on the perimeter. Another versatile prospect, Edwards will be a good get for any team.
Kitley could have been a first-round draft pick this season if she didn’t elect to come back to Virginia Tech for a fifth year. Kitley has improved every season, winning ACC Player of the Year in both 2022 and 2023. Her body control on both ends of the floor makes her difficult to guard and difficult to score over. At 6-6, she has the ability to extend to the free-throw line, and her shooting stroke can likely be developed beyond the arc.
Cardoso has spent the last two seasons coming off the bench behind this year’s No. 1 pick, Aliyah Boston, but make no mistake, she would be starting on any other team. On several occasions this year, it was Cardoso who made the difference for the Gamecocks when teams tried different defenses to slow them down. She’s 6-7 with good hands, making post-entry passes easy for her teammates. And on the other end of the floor, Cardoso is a skilled shot blocker.
Ohio State’s point guard missed most of the year due to injury, but an impressive March Madness improved her draft stock so much that Sheldon could have been a 2023 top-five pick if she hadn’t opted to return for a fifth year. She has the ability to be the best offensive and defensive player on the court in any given game. Sheldon also possesses a toughness that WNBA teams will like.
Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.