Just 15 of 36 drafted players appear on WNBA opening day rosters to start the 2023 season. With 144 roster spots available among the 12 teams, a number of college stars were waived before the season began.

Here are five of the most notable rookie free agents, and how they can find themselves in the WNBA in the future.

Abby Meyers, No. 11 pick

The Dallas Wings surprised everyone when they opted to take Meyers with the 11th pick on draft night. The guard wasn’t projected to be a first round pick in mock drafts, and while the Wings clearly saw something in Meyers, it wasn’t enough to land her a roster spot.

Meyers shot 38.8% from the 3-point line in her final collegiate season, and the Wings were in search of shooters. Another big strength is her basketball IQ – Meyers transferred to Maryland from Ivy League powerhouse Princeton.

Fit criteria: If Meyers winds up on a roster, expect it to be a team that needs a backup guard or a shooting lift.

Taylor Mikesell, No. 13 pick

The Indiana Fever kept three of their five draft picks on roster: Aliyah Boston, Grace Berger and Victaria Saxton. While Mikesell, an Ohio State product, was waived on May 17, the guard likely was an attractive prospect for the Fever because of her shooting abilities.

Mikesell made her mark in college as one of the top 3-point shooters in the country. The 5-11 guard was the best pure shooter in the draft, knocking down 41.4% of her attempts as a senior.

Fit criteria: Mikesell can play spot minutes for a team with dominant bigs that needs shooters to space the floor.

Alexis Morris, No. 22 pick

Morris wasn’t on a lot of draft boards until the NCAA Tournament, when her play helped LSU win its first national title. Her 21 points and 9 assists in the championship game over Iowa showed that Morris can perform well under pressure. But after being drafted by the Connecticut Sun, Morris was waived after one preseason game.

Morris is undersized at 5-6, but her ability to score in the midrange helps the LSU product combat the height disadvantage. She is also a good decision maker who can spearhead an offense.

Fit criteria: Any team that finds itself thin at the point guard or shooting guard spot due to injuries may target Morris. Her size is a concern for defense, but she can hold her own on offense.

Brea Beal, No. 24 pick

The Minnesota Lynx kept Diamond Miller (No. 2 pick) and Dorka Juhász (No. 16 pick), but South Carolina’s Beal was waived on May 16. Beal was a key piece for the Gamecocks on their championship team in 2022 and a four-year starter. She’s experienced competing at the highest level college basketball has to offer.

Defense is Beal’s strength, and she often found herself tasked with guarding the opposing team’s best offensive player. At 6-1 with length and strength, she could be called on to do the same in the WNBA

Fit criteria: Beal’s offense is a work in progress – she was a dominant scorer in high school but wasn’t called on to do the same in college – so the team that picks her up will likely have a plethora of scorers. But anyone who needs defense, particularly an on-ball defender, should look to Beal. (Just ask Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley.)

Monika Czinano, No. 26 pick

Czinano more than held her own for Iowa, but basketball is changing at the WNBA level. Traditional bigs, unless they have size like the 6-7 Brittney Griner, are going away. Czinano doesn’t have a versatile skill set, which is why she didn’t go until the third round to the Los Angeles Sparks.

Still, the 6-3 post possesses toughness and efficiency around the rim – she made 67.1% of her attempts during a five-year college career.

Fit criteria: Czinano won’t be a primary option in the WNBA, but she can be a backup post on the right team. If she’s picked up, it will likely be with a team that has bigs who can stretch the floor, allowing Czinano to play off them in the paint.

Other draftees who were waived:

  • LaDazhia Williams (No. 17 pick, LSU)
  • Madi Williams (No. 18 pick, Oklahoma)
  • Elena Tsineke (No. 20 pick, South Florida)
  • Kayana Traylor (No. 23 pick, Virginia Tech)
  • Destiny Harden (No. 27 pick, Miami)
  • Taylor Soule (No. 28, Virginia Tech)
  • Jade Loville (No. 33 pick, Arizona)
  • Ashten Prechtel (No. 34 pick, Stanford)
  • Brittany Davis (No. 36 pick, Alabama)

Arike Ogunbowale didn’t watch the 2023 WNBA Draft. She was doing what she does every Monday night — playing pick-up basketball. But her cell phone was close by, and she kept checking it for updates.

Ogunbowale liked what she saw. Dallas not only grabbed NCAA leading scorer Maddy Siegrist at No. 3 overall, but continued to accumulate top-tier shooters as the rest of the draft unfolded, making four selections in the first round and and six overall.

“I thought we did really good,” she says. “It’s pretty much what I envisioned them to be drafting. I was happy with it.”

Since she entered the WNBA as the Dallas Wings’ fifth overall pick in the 2019 draft, Ogunbowale has become the backbone of the franchise, and Dallas has been intent on building the team around her. But while Ogunbowale has racked up many individual accolades over the past four seasons, including WNBA scoring champion in 2020 and All-Star MVP in 2021, the Wings have struggled to achieve consistent roster balance and find success in the postseason. They were bounced from the playoffs in a single-elimination first-round game in 2021 and, after finishing the regular season with a .500 record, lost 2-1 in a first-round series against the Connecticut Sun last season.

At this point in her four-year career, Ogunbowale wants more for her team and for the city of Dallas, which has not had a winning season since 2015 or a playoff series win since 2009. Ogunbowale wants to experience a full postseason run.

“My first year (in the playoffs), that’s when it was still the one and done. Last year’s was two out of three. Sadly, I wasn’t able to play in that because I was injured,” says Ogunbowale, 26. “I’m just excited to actually play a playoff series at that and get a chance to go. But the goal for sure is more than the first round this year.”

Ogunbowale is a two-time WNBA All-Star in her four seasons with Dallas. (Tim Heitman/NBAE via Getty Images)

It’s not as if Wings president and CEO Greg Bibb hasn’t tried to round out the roster with additional talent and find the best combination of players, particularly through the draft, to try to achieve that same goal.

In 2020, Dallas plucked Satou Sabally (Oregon) with the second overall pick, Bella Alaire (Princeton) with the fifth, Tyasha Harris (South Carolina) with the seventh and Luisa Geiselsöder (Germany) in Round 2. In 2021, the Wings used their first and second picks to grab bigs Charli Collier (Texas) and Awak Kuier (Finland), then added Chelsea Dungee (Arkansas) and Dana Evans (Louisville). The 2022 draft yielded Veronica Burton (Northwestern) and Jazz Bond (North Florida).

Still, out of all of the players drafted in the past four years, only five remain in Dallas — Burton, Collier, Kuier, Sabally and Ogunbowale.

“We’ve been on a multi-year journey in terms of building our roster,” Bibb says. “And I believe we were at a spot by the end of last season where we were very much on the way to where we want to be, but there were several roster-related shortcomings or deficiencies that we wanted to address — first in free agency and then in the draft.”

During the WNBA’s frenetic February free agency period, Dallas picked up Diamond DeShields, Natasha Howard and Crystal Dangerfield through trades. And this year’s draft produced another haul of riches. The Wings cast a wide net, selecting Siegrist (Villanova), Lou Lopez Sénéchal (UConn) and Abby Meyers (Princeton) in the first round, then added Ashley Joens (Iowa State) and Paige Robinson (Illinois State) with their subsequent picks. Dallas also traded future draft picks for the rights to Stephanie Soares (Iowa State), who was originally selected fourth overall by the Washington Mystics.

With six draftees and no trades to garner any future picks for themselves, the Wings appeared to be scooping up as much talent as they could to throw out on the court in training camp this week and see what sticks. It’s seemingly the same script they followed for the past few seasons under former head coaches Brian Agler (2019-20) and Vickie Johnson (2021-22).

Bibb insists that isn’t the case.

“A lot of people ask us about our draft class. It’s kind of become this thing, this narrative that Dallas always drafts a ton of players and always has too many players and not enough spots,” he said in the Wings’ introductory team press conference in April. “I’m not sure where the narrative that Dallas does this over-drafting or draft-and-stash [comes from]. It’s just not what we do.”

Ogunbowale and new signing Natasha Howard participate in the first day of training camp Sunday. (Dallas Wings)

After losing their second- and third-leading scorers Marina Mabrey and Allisha Gray in offseason trades, Bibb says he targeted what Dallas needed the most through the draft — shooters. But he also added size for position, focusing on players who have the ability to excel in multiple positions and use their individual skills in a variety of ways on the court.

Siegrist fits that mold perfectly. As the all-time leading scorer in the Big East and the leading scorer in the nation this past season at 29.2 points per game, she has the ability to get buckets at all three levels. More importantly, depending on how many minutes new coach Latricia Trammell grants her, Siegrist can go in and compete right away.

“I love a scorer. You know I’m a scorer, so I love that (Maddy) can score in a lot of different ways and do it easily,” says Ogunbowale. “I think adding her is really good. She has good size, so she’ll help us with that department. But I think she’ll stretch the floor for sure, she can knock it down. I’m really excited about her.”

Soares is still recovering from a torn ACL she suffered in January and is being billed as a future investment, with the hope that she’ll be ready to go next season. Lopez Sénéchal played with a lingering knee injury for the second half of UConn’s season, and it remains to be seen how it will affect her play. But she, along with Meyers, Joens and Robinson, will be front and center of what is expected to be a highly competitive Wings training camp.

Dallas traded for Iowa State center and No. 4 pick Stephanie Soares on draft night. (Evan Yu/Just Women's Sports)

Seeing all of the picks taken before and after her, Meyers knows there’s no time to revel in the dream of getting drafted. The reality of the situation is clear to the former Ivy League Player of the Year — every draftee is competing for a spot alongside established young talent and valuable veterans.

“I think for me, I gotta do really well at the intangibles. I have to do really well at the small things,” Meyers says. “So I have to shoot well, I have to move off the ball well, I have to communicate well. I gotta do everything that makes a great all-around player.”

Since arriving in Dallas, Meyers has been hitting the gym and training with the other rookies, having fun and soaking up as much knowledge as she can. She’s also spoken with some of the vets, including DeShields, who told her to drop the rookie mindset and remember that, at the end of the day, they’re all pros.

“I know what I need to show and work on,” Meyers says. “But yeah, it’s gonna come down to the little things I think. It’s gonna come down to consistency, come down to meeting expectations of not only myself as a player, but also the expectations of what the coaches are looking for in a player for the team.”

Dallas currently has 18 players on its roster and only 12 open slots. As has become the norm, getting drafted in the second and third rounds is often more of an open invitation than a guarantee. But Trammell has said she’s going to treat every player that steps on the court as if they’re going to be with the team all season.

“It’s probably the most competitive that it’s been, honestly even since before I was here,” Ogunbowale says. “There’s so many good players — the players we have now and the players added, we got a lot of players in free agency. I think it’s gonna be super, super competitive. I’m excited to watch people compete, I’m excited to obviously compete against them. Hopefully my spot is locked down.”

As camp begins and the WNBA season fast approaches, the Wings’ new coaching staff has their work cut out for them. With the roster cutdown deadline set for May 18 and their season opener against the Atlanta Dream on May 20, the Wings have just over two weeks to finalize the roster and figure out rotations, player combinations and positions with the hope of contending in a newly top-heavy league.

The question remains: Will this be the year it all comes together?

Ogunbowale is optimistic.

“I think this is gonna be our best year yet. I feel like with the new coaching staff, they’re excited and seem super knowledgeable in the sport and just want to see us be great. They seem like they’re putting everything together to give us the tools to be great,” she says.

“I think we have players now that are super skilled, that have won championships. Just adding those other pieces and the pieces that we have, I think it’s gonna be a really good season for us.”

Lyndsey D’Arcangelo is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports, covering the WNBA. She also contributes to The Athletic and is the co-author of Hail Mary: The Rise and Fall of the National Women’s Football League. Follow Lyndsey on Twitter @darcangel21.

Like any draft, the 2023 WNBA Draft on Monday night had both sure things and surprises.

South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston going first overall to the Indiana Fever came as a surprise to no one, while Maryland’s Abby Meyers creeping into the first round caught most people off guard. Some WNBA teams had excellent draft nights, while others left question marks and more to be desired.

We grade the first round of the draft based on the good, the bad and the in between.

No. 1: Indiana Fever

Aliyah Boston, F, South Carolina

Since the moment the 2022 draft wrapped and the 2023 draft came into focus, Boston has been the consensus choice for the No. 1 pick. Indiana didn’t have to think too much about this one, drafting the 2022 National Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, a likely cornerstone for the team for years to come.

Grade: A+

No. 2: Minnesota Lynx

Diamond Miller, G, Maryland

Making another obvious pick, the Lynx got it right with Miller. The Maryland star is WNBA-ready, with an athletic 6-foot-3 frame and the skills to go along with it. Minnesota is in a rebuilding phase after recording a losing season in 2022 and missing the playoffs for the first time in 11 years, and Miller is the perfect foundation. She is versatile, so they have options when it comes to building a roster. Ten years from now, Miller might be considered one of the best players in this draft.

Grade: A+

No. 3: Dallas Wings

Maddy Siegrist, F, Villanova

I don’t love everything the Wings did in this draft, but picking Siegrist at No. 3 was the right move. She’s a dynamic scorer who can complement the pieces Dallas already has. The Wings need point production, and the NCAA’s leading scorer certainly brings that in spades. Siegrist had the ball in her hands a lot at Villanova, a role that will change on a Wings team led by Arike Ogunbowale, but she shouldn’t have an issue adjusting.

Grade: A

The Mystics traded No. 4 pick Stephanie Soares to the Wings for future draft picks. (Evan Yu/Just Women's Sports)

No. 4: Washington Mystics

Stephanie Soares, F/C, Iowa State
(Traded to Dallas for 2024 second-round pick and 2025 first-round pick)

Soares is a player with loads of potential. She’s 6-6 and can shoot from outside, which is an attractive quality in a league that is moving away from traditional bigs. But she’s also had two ACL injuries, so the pick is a gamble. For a team that has the luxury of developing Soares, this is an excellent pick. Dallas is not that team. At this point, the Wings have too many players with promising potential but no sure future, especially on the inside with Kalani Brown, Charli Collier and Awak Kuier.

Meanwhile, the Mystics made a great choice here, because the 2024 and 2025 draft classes are going to be stacked with NCAA talent.

Wings grade: C-

Mystics grade: A

No. 5: Dallas Wings

Lou Lopez Sénéchal, G/F, UConn

Lopez Sénéchal wasn’t at No. 5 on anyone’s draft board, but I understand the pick for the Wings. Already armed with shot creators like Ogunbowale and Diamond DeShields, the Wings need shooters. They especially need 3-point shooters, and the UConn product is one of the best long-range weapons in the draft, averaging 44 percent from deep this past season.

Grade: B

Haley Jones speaks to the media after going to the Atlanta Dream as the sixth pick. (Evan Yu/Just Women's Sports)

No. 6: Atlanta Dream

Haley Jones, G, Stanford

A lot has been made of Jones’ lack of a 3-point shot. And while I understand the criticism, she’s still a pro-ready player who impacts the game positively in every other way and has a high basketball IQ. Getting her at No. 6 is still a steal for Atlanta, and don’t be surprised as she develops her 3-point in the next couple seasons, as she alluded to Monday night.

“I’m just excited to get to the next level and show what I’ve been working on. I think at Stanford it wasn’t really my role to 3-point shoot. It was to playmake, rebound and run, facilitate, run the offense, play out of the high post,” Jones said. “I’m excited to get to the A, bring it there, and just kind of prove people wrong in a way.”

Grade: A

No. 7: Indiana Fever

Grace Berger, G, Indiana

The Indiana product managed to stay underrated for most of her college career, but Berger has WNBA-level skills. Her midrange game is particularly strong, and she is strong enough to hold her own with other guards in the league. The Fever are a young team, but they have great pieces to build around coming off last year’s and this year’s drafts, and Berger only adds to that foundation.

Grade: B

No. 8: Atlanta Dream

Laeticia Amihere, F, South Carolina

Amihere never started for the Gamecocks, but that is more a testament to their depth than a knock on her skills. At 6-4, she gives the Dream much-needed height and athleticism. We never saw her full potential at South Carolina, but the ceiling is high for the forward. Atlanta is able to take a risk on a player like Amihere because they are confident in their other top selections — 2022 No. 1 pick and WNBA Rookie of the Year Rhyne Howard and 2023 No. 6 pick Haley Jones.

Grade: A

No. 9: Seattle Storm

Jordan Horston, G, Tennessee

The Storm organization is in the midst of a transition period after Sue Bird retired and Brenna Stewart left in free agency. Jewell Loyd is now the centerpiece of the team, and Horston is a complementary guard with top-five draft potential who could wind up being a steal. She has size at 6-2 and does a little bit of everything, from passing to rebounding. Together, Loyd and Horston make a backcourt Seattle can build around.

Grade: A

South Carolina guard Zia Cooke heads to Los Angeles as the No. 10 draft pick. (Evan Yu/Just Women's Sports)

No. 10: Los Angeles Sparks

Zia Cooke, G, South Carolina

The Sparks have managed a solid offseason under new head coach Curt Miller, re-signing Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike, signing Azurá Stevens and trading for Dearica Hamby. They also signed veteran guard Jasmine Thomas, but they needed another. Cooke can score at all three levels and, despite being 5-9, knows how to use her body and find angles to get the ball to the rim. She’s a perfect fit for the Sparks.

Grade: A

No. 11: Dallas Wings

Abby Meyers, G, Maryland

Dallas already selected a shooter in Lopez Sénéchal and went for a player with great potential in Soares. With the 11th pick, they selected a player who falls into both categories. I think Meyers could be a good WNBA player, but drafting her in the first round seems like a reach for the Wings.

Grade: D

No. 12: Minnesota Lynx

Maia Hirsch, C, France

The French prospect is 6-5 with guard skills. In the limited game highlights available, it’s clear Hirsch can play both ends of the floor, making her an attractive prospect. Plus, she’s only 19 years old and her ceiling is high. She might not pan out in the WNBA, but it’s a risk worth taking.

Grade: B

Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.