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WNBA 2023 mock draft 2.0: Projecting every first-round pick

Maryland’s Diamond Miller is projected to go No. 2 in our latest WNBA mock draft. (David Berding/Getty Images)

With the NCAA Tournament right around the corner and the WNBA season coming into focus, it’s time to update our 2023 WNBA mock draft.

Free agency shifted the WNBA landscape in the past couple of months. The New York Liberty and Las Vegas Aces won free agency, signing multiple superstars and forming two WNBA superteams. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Lynx struck out, the Chicago Sky’s championship core broke up, and the Los Angeles Sparks stabilized their roster.

On the NCAA side, a number of top-ranked teams have dealt with injuries to key players, but there is plenty of pro-ready talent on the board for 2023. Nearly four months since our first mock draft, here are my projections for every first-round pick in April’s WNBA draft.

1. Indiana Fever

Aliyah Boston, F, South Carolina

Nothing to change here. The Fever still could use a dominant post presence to add to their repertoire of young, promising talent, and Boston is exactly that player.

While Boston’s numbers are down, the 6-foot-5 South Carolina center has conducted herself with poise, bearing the brunt of double and triple teams night in and night out. Her 13.3 points on 60 percent shooting from the field and 9.7 rebounds per game are impressive considering teams are focusing their defensive game plans on stopping her. Boston’s impact is felt just as much on defense as it is on offense, most notably in February when she helped hold LSU star forward Angel Reese to her lowest output of the season. South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley has been adamant that, despite the deflated stat lines, Boston is still “the best player in the country.”

2. Minnesota Lynx

Diamond Miller, G, Maryland

The Minnesota Lynx failed to address their center needs in free agency, making this pick even more valuable. Beyond positional needs, the Lynx are searching for talent as they enter the 2023 with nearly the same roster from the past three years but without Sylvia Fowles. This pick will propel or haunt this franchise for years to come, and they cannot afford to miss on it.

Diamond Miller arguably has the most upside of any player on the draft board. The 6-3 guard has a pro-ready build and has been dominant all season long, leading Maryland in scoring with 19.7 points per game. She can do a little bit of everything, with her ability to pass and create, score, defend and rebound. The most impressive aspect of Miller’s game is her ability to grab a rebound, advance the ball and make decisions in the open floor. She is a major threat when going downhill. Miller’s production has been consistent throughout her senior season, and she’s taken her game to another level against top-ranked opponents. While her 3-point shooting percentage is down to 21 percent this season, she is capable of perimeter range, having shot over 30 percent during her NCAA career.

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Rickea Jackson (Calvin Mattheis/USA TODAY Sports)

3. Dallas Wings

Rickea Jackson, F, Tennessee

The Dallas Wings own the 2023 draft with the No. 3, No. 5 and No. 11 selections, giving them the opportunity to cast a wide net between shooters, combo guards and scorers. Rickea Jackson’s ceiling is sky-high given her athleticism and scoring mentality. Jackson is tough to defend off the dribble, with a quick first step and a great combination of body control and size to finish in the paint. At 6-2, she has the skill set to slide over from wing to forward and can play inside and out. Jackson is putting up the most efficient numbers of her NCAA career this season, shooting 55.2 percent from the field and leading Tennessee with 19.6 points per game. Her stock has only risen with her performances late in the season, including a 26-point double-double to lead the Vols over LSU in the SEC tournament semifinal.

Jackson could use her fifth year of NCAA eligibility next season, but if she were to declare for this year’s draft, Dallas would be hard-pressed to pass over her all-around talent and potential at No. 3.

4. Washington Mystics

Haley Jones, G, Stanford

Washington might have the chance to add versatility, shot creation and defense with one pick. Haley Jones has long been touted as a lottery selection, and if she’s still available at No. 4, the Washington Mystics should scoop her up.

Jones is a cerebral player who has a proven ability to make those around her better. The Stanford senior is in a category of her own in this draft class. She can initiate offense as a point-forward, averaging a career-best 4.1 assists per game this season, and when she gets downhill in the open floor, her decision-making is elite. On defense, she can handle any matchup handed to her.

Jones’ downside is her perimeter shooting, with the 6-1 guard having made only three 3-pointers all season and shooting under 10 percent from deep. She will need to continue to develop her range to stretch defenses at the next level.

5. Dallas Wings

Maddy Siegrist, F, Villanova

Based on the makeup of the Wings’ roster after free agency, it is evident they need to address perimeter shooting in this draft. Maddy Siegrist is not only shooting a career-best 37.3 percent from the 3-point line this season, she is also not a one-dimensional scorer.

The 6-2 guard leads the nation in scoring, with 28.9 points per game on 51.8 percent shooting from the field. Siegrist will have a pretty steep learning curve in the WNBA, especially from a physicality standpoint, but the potential for consistent production is there. She has the length, skill and size necessary to succeed at the next level and would fill a major positional gap in Dallas’ roster.

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Elizabeth Kitley (G Fiume/Getty Images)

6. Atlanta Dream

Elizabeth Kitley, C, Virginia Tech

The most glaring concern for the Atlanta Dream heading into 2023 is their lack of a strong post presence, giving them a chance to stock up on talent with their two first-round picks. Elizabeth Kitley could help strengthen that position immediately with her skill and efficiency around the basket. The 6-6 center leads Virginia Tech in scoring and rebounding, averaging a double-double of 18.6 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.

The ACC Player of the Year has great length and rebounding instincts. While often pigeonholed as a traditional center, Kitley plays with a level of finesse and face-up ability that is unique to her size. She arguably is the most skilled post player in this class with her ability to play with her back to the basket, attack off the dribble, create separation with her fadeaway and execute in the high post.

While there is a chance Kitley uses her fifth year of NCAA eligibility, if she declares for the draft, she could help the Dream right away.

7. Indiana Fever

Grace Berger, G, Indiana

The Indiana Fever could go in a number of different directions with this pick. Beyond the sentiment of keeping Hoosiers star Grace Berger in state, the 6-0 guard has the “it” factor as a tough and disciplined competitor. Berger is as steady as they come at the guard spot and has elevated her play in the biggest moments this season. She is one of the most composed players in the 2023 class.

While Indiana’s roster looks a bit guard-heavy at first glance, Berger would bring a unique skill set with her mid-range efficiency and her ability to play on or off the ball and rebound from the guard spot. Berger is averaging a career-best 5.8 assists per game for Indiana this season, and while she’s not known for her 3-point shot, she’s been efficient when she’s taken them, averaging 40 percent from range. Her experience and on-court leadership would be welcome on the Fever’s young, rebuilding roster.

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Stephanie Soares (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

8. Atlanta Dream

Stephanie Soares, F/C, Iowa State

As with the Kitley selection at No. 6, the Dream have an opportunity to double down on a couple of bigs in this draft class — one with immediate potential and one for the future. Before Stephanie Soares suffered a season-ending ACL injury in early January, the 6-6 center was one of Iowa State’s best players after transferring from the NAIA, where she was the two-time league Player of the Year. WNBA teams are so high on Soares that she would likely be a lottery pick if healthy, and still could be in her current state.

Players with Soares’ skill set and size don’t come around very often. She can protect the rim with her length and athleticism while also stretching the floor with a strong 3-point shot. In just 13 games with Iowa State and at the Division I level, Soares averaged 14.4 points and 9.9 rebounds per game while shooting 54.4 percent from the field and 30.6 percent from the perimeter.

WNBA GMs expect Soares to have a long pro future ahead of her, even if she is granted a waiver for an extra year of NCAA eligibility. With Soares, Atlanta could secure a potential unicorn in this class who could continue to be developed and impact the WNBA for a long time once healthy.

9. Seattle Storm

Jordan Horston, G, Tennessee

While the Seattle Storm’s biggest need is at the point guard position, they might be better-served selecting the best player available with the ninth pick. If Jordan Horston were to fall this low, Seattle has an opportunity to lock up an elite wing with next-level potential. When Horston is at her best, she is one of the most elite players in the country. She showcased that during the SEC tournament last week, averaging 19 points and 8.7 rebounds across three games.

At 6-2, Horston has elite length and athleticism that should translate well to the next level on both ends of the floor. She can rebound the ball and elevate over opponents, and her passing ability is underrated. She is also having her most efficient scoring season for Tennessee, shooting 43.6 percent from the field. Horston has top-five pick potential, but if she were to drop to No. 9, Seattle won’t want to miss out on adding a player of her talent to its retooling roster.

10. Los Angeles Sparks

Lou Lopez Sénéchal, G/F, UConn

The Los Angeles Sparks need a scoring wing who can stretch the floor and be a perimeter threat. That only escalated when Katie Lou Samuelson announced she will miss the season due to pregnancy.

Lou Lopez Sénéchal made the jump from Fairfield to UConn this season and has thrived in the high-pressure atmosphere. She has increased her efficiency while taking four to five fewer shots per game, shooting a career-best 46.7 percent from the floor and 43 percent from the 3-point line. The 6-1 grad student has been forced to step up as UConn dealt with injuries to several key players throughout the season, and she has responded, helping the Huskies capture the Big East tournament championship this week. Lopez Sénéchal is just the type of wing Los Angeles could throw into the fire her rookie season.

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Taylor Mikesell (Joseph Scheller/The Columbus Dispatch/USA TODAY Sports)

11. Dallas Wings

Taylor Mikesell, G, Ohio State

Taylor Mikesell has a pro-ready frame, skill set and understanding of the game. She is at her best when she can play alongside other aggressive, shot-creating guards. And when she can run off actions and get to her spots, she is one of the most efficient shooters in the country.

Mikesell has proven extremely durable over her career, especially this season as she’s helped carry an injury-ridden Ohio State team. Despite being the focal point of opposing scouting reports every night, the 5-11 guard is shooting 41 percent from deep and can also score in other ways. She has elite vision and finishing ability at the rim. Mikesell has the tools to thrive as a pro when defenses aren’t honed in on her specifically.

12. Minnesota Lynx

Zia Cooke, G, South Carolina

Minnesota needs both depth in the backcourt and scoring. Cooke is having her best and most consistent season for South Carolina. Not only is she averaging a career-best 40.8 field-goal percentage, but she is also controlling the ball better, with the fewest turnovers of her career.

Cooke thrives in big moments, and no team has played on bigger stages than the Gamecocks in recent years. Having played under head coach Dawn Staley for four seasons, Cooke will enter the WNBA with a pro-ready mentality. With Cooke, the Lynx would get a dynamic scorer and a player capable of initiating the offense alongside Lindsay Allen, two areas Minnesota desperately needs to address.

Rachel Galligan is a basketball analyst at Just Women’s Sports. A former professional basketball player and collegiate coach, she also contributes to Winsidr. Follow Rachel on Twitter @RachGall.

Barcelona to Face Lyon in Champions League Rematch This Weekend

UEFA Women's Champions League Final"Barcelona FC - Olympique Lyonnais"
Saturday's game will be the third UWCL final meeting for Barcelona and Lyon, having previously gone up against each other in 2019 and 2022. (ANP via Getty Images)

The UEFA Women's Champions League final kicks off in Bilbao on Saturday, with a couple of familiar foes set to face off for the trophy.

Olympique Lyonnais Féminin, making its 11th final appearance since 2010, will go head to head with a Barcelona side making its fourth final appearance in a row.

This will be the third time these two teams meet in the UWCL title game, having previously appeared in the 2019 and 2022 finals. Lyon won both of those prior games against Barcelona, alongside a total of eight Champions League trophies. That’s double that of any other club, with Eintracht Frankfurt coming in a distant second with four. 

Should Barcelona win, this would be the team's third title — breaking a tie for the third in the UWCL total titles race. 

But as these teams return to the UWCL final, it also marks the end of an era for both clubs. The game will be the last for both club managers, as Barcelona’s Jonatan Giráldez and Lyon’s Sonia Bompastor depart for new jobs after the season's end.

Giráldez is set to leave for the NWSL's Washington Spirit, while Bompastor will take over for incoming USWNT coach Emma Hayes at Chelsea. Both coaches have earned one UWCL trophy during their tenures, while Bompastor also brought two Champions League trophies to Lyon as a player. She was the first coach to win a UWCL trophy as both a coach and player.

This season, Barcelona is looking for its first quadruple, having won a fifth Liga F title alongside the Copa de La Reina, and the Spanish Supercopa. 

"We hope he can go out with the four trophies because we know how competitive and ambitious he is," Barcelona midfielder Patri Guijarro told ESPN. "It has been a winning era with him in charge and for him to go out with all four trophies would be historic and incredible."

But Lyon's Damaris Egurrola is excited about her team's chances of overcoming Barcelona once again — and to do it in front of family and friends.

"Lyon have something special," she told Forbes ahead of the weekend's final. "We have a great team and we have the players with enough talent to win any match."

The game will be a homecoming for Egurrola, who began her professional career with Athletic Bilbao.

"I’ve been thinking of this day and night," she said. "I’ve been dreaming of playing this match. Having the opportunity to play in San Mames is amazing. This is where it all started for me."

The UEFA Women's Champions League final kicks off Saturday, May 25th at 12 PM ET and is free to stream on DAZN.

World No. 1 Iga Swiatek Headlines a Stacked 2024 French Open

Iga Swiatek serves against Coco Gauff during the group stage of the 2023 WTA Finals in Cancun, Mexico
Iga Swiatek serves against Coco Gauff during the group stage of the 2023 WTA Finals in Cancun, Mexico. (Robert Prange/Getty Images)

The 2024 French Open starts on Sunday, with a match schedule that promises to wrap the short clay court season up in style.

Looking for her fourth title at the major is three-time Roland Garros champion and World No. 1 Iga Swiatek, considered the favorite to win the whole Slam. Three of her four major titles have come at the French tournament. 

Swiatek's career record at the French Open is a dominating 28-2, and she's currently on a 16-game winning streak fueled by victories at tune-up tournaments in Madrid and Rome.

But that doesn't mean she won't face some serious challengers along the way. Get to know some of the Polish tennis champ's strongest competitors.

Aryna Sabalenka

Sabalenka is ranked No. 2 in the world and faced Swiatek in the finals at both Madrid and Rome. She lost in three sets in Madrid, which included a close third-set tiebreak, before losing in straight sets at the Italian Open. 

She enters the French Open having won the Australian Open in January, successfully defending her title in the first Slam of the season. At last year’s French Open, Sabalenka reached the semifinals — a career best — before being ousted by Karolina Muchová in three sets.

Season record: 25-7

Coco Gauff

Currently sitting at No. 3 in the world, the highest-ranked American on the schedule is none other than Coco Gauff. Gauff won her first major at the US Open last year, and reached the semifinals of this year’s Australian Open. She faced Swiatek in the semifinals of the Italian Open last week, losing in straight sets. 

But her first major final came at the French Open in 2022, before being ousted by Swiatek in the quarterfinals at last year’s French Open. The two are on a crash course for a meeting before the finals, as Gauff anchors the other quadrant on Swiatek’s side of the draw, should they both advance deep into the competition.

Season record: 25-8

Chicago Sky Upset New York to End Liberty’s Unbeaten Streak

chicago sky's angel reese on the court against new york liberty
Angel Reese registered a near double-double against a strong Liberty side. (Evan Yu/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Liberty’s unbeaten streak came to an end on Thursday as Angel Reese and the Chicago Sky got the upset win over New York with a final score of 90-81. 

Angel Reese stood out with a near double-double, registering 13 points and nine rebounds. She’s currently the only rookie this season to exceed 10 points in her first three games, and the first player in Sky history to begin their career with three consecutive double-digit scoring games, per ESPN Stats & Info.

The outcome may not have come as a surprise to Liberty stars Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones, who sung Reese’s praises ahead of the game.

"She’s a workhorse," Stewart told The Post. "She doesn’t stop. She’s tough, she’s strong, she’s tough to box out and good at cleaning up for her team offensively and defensively."

"I feel like she’s an energizer bunny," Jones added. "She doesn’t stop moving, she doesn’t stop crashing the boards. Just someone that is gonna be relentless in her approach to getting to the glass and playing tough."

It was the first time Chicago has met New York this season. The game was especially meaningful for new Chicago head coach Teresa Weatherspoon, who led the Liberty for seven years as a player and joined the team's Ring of Honor in 2011.

"This place means a lot to me... I played in that jersey, I adored that jersey, I adored every player that I had an opportunity to play with. The love that I received even today was overwhelming," Weatherspoon reflected after the game.

Following the win, Sky guard Dana Evans had some kind words for her coach.

"I mean, it's just special. She's special," Evans said. "She just breeds confidence in each and every one of us. We love her. We just wanted to go so hard and play hard for her, and I feel like this one was really for her. We really wanted this for her more than anything."

Thursday's victory brings Chicago's record to 2-1, a somewhat unlikely feat given that their offseason featured starter Kahleah Copper getting traded to Phoenix. The Connecticut Sun are now the only undefeated team left in the league this season, and will formidable foes for the Sky as they take their winning streak on the road to Chicago this weekend.

New USWNT Coach Emma Hayes Embracing the Challenge

United States Women's Head Coach Emma Hayes
The ex-Chelsea skipper has officially arrived in the US — now it's time to get down to business. (USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

Emma Hayes has officially begun her tenure as USWNT manager ahead of the team’s June friendlies.

Hayes made the rounds on Thursday, appearing on the Today Show and speaking with select media about her goals and underlying principles with the team. It’s a quick turnaround for the decorated coach, who just won the WSL with Chelsea last weekend.

One thing that she won’t do, however, is shy away from the high expectations that come with managing the US. The squad is looking to reinstate its winning reputation at the Paris Olympics this summer following a disappointing World Cup in 2023. 

"I know the challenge ahead of me. There is no denying there is a gap between the US and the rest of the world," she told ESPN. "We have to acknowledge that winning at the highest level isn't what it was 10 years ago. It's a completely different landscape. And my focus is going to be on getting the performances required to play at a high level against the very best nations in the world."

While Hayes was formally hired six months ago to lead the USWNT, her deal stipulated that she remain with Chelsea through the conclusion of their season. In her stead, Twila Kilgore has led the team, with the coach "drip feeding subliminal messages" to the roster on Hayes’s behalf.

"It's a bit ass-upwards," Hayes joked to reporters. "I know about the staff, and the team, and the structure behind it. We got all of that. Now it's time, I need to be with the team."

With Olympics now just two months away, Hayes dropped hints this week regarding her thought process behind building the roster, saying there’s still time for players to make their case.

"You can't go to an Olympics with a completely inexperienced squad. We need our experienced players, but getting that composition right, that's my job between now and June 16th," she said on the Today Show.

"What I can say from my time [in the US] is, I've always loved the attitude towards performance and the expectation to give everything you've got," she later affirmed to reporters.

And as for winning gold?

"I'm never gonna tell anyone to not dream about winning," she added. "But… we have to go step by step, and focus on all the little processes that need to happen so we can perform at our best level.

"I will give it absolutely everything I've got to make sure I uphold the traditions of this team."

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