All Scores

As the 2023 WNBA playoffs begin, teams are still dealing with a number of injuries. Take the Washington Mystics, who will be without Shakira Austin for the first two games of their first-round series against the New York Liberty.

Just Women’s Sports is keeping tabs on the most notable WNBA injuries and, where possible, providing the timetable for the player’s return. This report also includes athletes who are missing the 2023 WNBA season due to pregnancy or maternity leave.

Injured WNBA players who could return this season

Shakira Austin, Washington Mystics

Second-year center Shakira Austin went down on June 25 with a hip strain. An MRI revealed that the injury doesn’t require surgery, but she missed nearly two months as a result.

Austin returned in mid-August in a win over Chicago but has remained limited in her minutes. Weeks later against the Aces, she re-injured the hip that had kept her out nearly two months. She will miss at least the first two games of the Mystics’ first-round series against the New York Liberty.

Candace Parker, Las Vegas Aces

The two-time WNBA MVP will be out indefinitely after undergoing surgery to repair a left foot fracture, the Las Vegas Aces announced in July.

Parker has been playing on the fracture all season, according to the team, but a recent consultation with doctors revealed that surgery was the best option to return to health and to avoid further injury.

After signing with Las Vegas in the offseason, Parker started the first 18 games of the season for the Aces, averaging 9.0 points per game.

WNBA players who have returned to the court

Elena Delle Donne, Washington Mystics

The two-time WNBA MVP injured her left ankle on July 9, but she returned on Aug. 18. The 33-year-old started this season fully healthy for the first time in almost three years after dealing with back issues that kept her sidelined for a significant amount of time.

NaLyssa Smith, Indiana Fever

A stress fracture in her left foot was expected to keep the 22-year-old forward out for at least two weeks, the Fever announced on July 11.

Smith made her returned on Aug. 8 and has been instrumental for Indiana since then, including a career-high 30 points in the team’s overtime win over Dallas on Sunday.

Layshia Clarendon, Los Angeles Sparks

Clarendon returned on July 22, appearing for the first time since June 9. A partial tear of the right plantar fascia ligament in their foot had kept Clarendon off the floor.

Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury

Brittney Griner had been out since June 13 with a hip injury but made her return against the Storm on June 24, putting up 11 points and 6 rebounds through 20 minutes.

Ruthy Hebard, Chicago Sky

Hebard gave birth to her son, Xzavier Reid, in April. The Chicago Sky forward returned just 12 weeks later.

“All this has just shown me how much I love the game,” Hebard said one week before making her return on July 9. “I love being around my teammates. I just love everything about basketball. More than anything, I just want to be back.”

Aari McDonald, Atlanta Dream

The 24-year-old guard tore her labrum against the Las Vegas Aces on June 2, the Dream announced on June 6. She returned to action on July 20.

Diamond Miller, Minnesota Lynx

The No. 2 overall pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft sprained her right ankle during Minnesota’s loss to the Dallas Wings on May 30. In a statement, the Lynx said Miller will “be reevaluated in the following weeks and further updates will be issued when available.” Miller scored a career-high 18 points in her return on June 27.

Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury

The Mercury also went without Diana Taurasi (hamstring) through three games (all double-digit losses). Taurasi returned on June 24, playing 19 minutes and putting up 13 points and 4 rebounds against Seattle.

Injured WNBA players out for the season

Brionna Jones, Connecticut Sun

The Connecticut Sun announced on June 24 that Brionna Jones suffered a ruptured right Achilles tendon in a game against the Seattle Storm on June 20 and underwent a successful surgery on June 23.

“While this is not how I envisioned this season ending for me, I am determined and ready to head into the next stage of recovery and rehab. I know I have an amazing support system behind me, and I will return on the other side of this stronger than ever,” Jones said in a statement.

Prior to the injury, Jones was first in the league in offensive rebounds (3.2/game), fifth in steals (1.8), and ninth in field goal percentage (57.1).

“We are heartbroken for Breezy. Anyone who knows her, knows she’s an amazing person, teammate and leader for our group,” said Connecticut Sun head coach Stephanie White.

“On the court, she has worked so hard to position herself as a cornerstone of our franchise and was playing terrific basketball. … As a team, we know we have a job to do, and we will dedicate our work toward the ultimate goal of winning a championship in a way that honors Breezy.”

Diamond DeShields, Dallas Wings

DeShields missed the regular season with a knee injury, and she remain out for the postseason.

While the 28-year-old guard appeared in a May 5 preseason game against Chicago, she did not travel for the team’s second preseason game out of precaution due to knee soreness. It’s unclear when she could make a return this season.

Rebekah Gardner, Chicago Sky

Gardner will miss the playoffs for Chicago. She missed most of the season after undergoing foot surgery for the break she sustained during a loss to the Washington Mystics on May 26.

Isabelle Harrison, Chicago Sky

The 29-year-old forward missed the season with a knee injury. The Sky revealed in May that Harrison would be out indefinitely after having surgery to repair a torn left meniscus. Harrison, who signed as a free agent with Chicago in February, has played six seasons in the WNBA.

Li Yueru, Chicago Sky

Li will miss the season with a non-WNBA injury, the Sky announced on May 18. She played for Chicago last season but missed the postseason to prepare for the 2022 World Cup with the Chinese national team.

Lou Lopez Sénéchal, Dallas Wings

The former UConn star underwent knee surgery during the first week of the season and missed the season as a result. The 25-year-old wing was the No. 5 overall pick in the 2023 draft.

Stephanie Talbot, Los Angeles Sparks

The 28-year-old forward signed with the Sparks in the offseason but tore her Achilles while playing for the Adelaide Lightning in Australia in February.

Kristi Toliver, Washington Mystics

The 36-year-old guard suffered a torn ACL in early September, which will sideline for the 2023 playoffs.

“I’m not going to lie: Emotionally, I’m shocked,” the Mystics’ Elena Delle Donne said. “You try to do the whole thing where you want to rally for [Toliver], but we were sick. Just sick. What she’s been through with her foot, how much she’s worked to get back — and she’s feeling good. She’s talking about even next year and all those things. To see something like that happen at this point in her career, it just sucks. … She’s such a great person. So it’s brutal.”

WNBA players out due to pregnancy or childbirth

Natalie Achonwa, Minnesota Lynx

Achonwa gave birth to her first child, son Maverick, in April and missed the WNBA season on maternity leave.

Achonwa, a member of the WNBA players’ union executive committee, helped negotiate for many of the pregnancy protections and maternity benefits that were included in the league’s 2020 collective bargaining agreement.

“Previously if you were out on maternity leave you’d get fifty per cent of your base salary,” Achonwa told SportsNet.

“I will receive my full salary this year whether I’m able to make it back or not — so pending clearance from doctors and trainers and stuff like that to see if I will make it back by the end of the year — but knowing that my family will be taken care of financially while I’m out on maternity leave was huge.”

Skylar Diggins-Smith, Phoenix Mercury

Diggins-Smith is out on maternity leave after giving birth to her second child during the WNBA offseason and her return timeline is unclear.

“I’m not really worried about snapping back,” she recently told Essence. “I just want to enjoy this time with my daughter.”

Katie Lou Samuelson, Los Angeles Sparks

Samuelson welcomed a baby girl in August, and her pregnancy kept out of the 2023 season. The 25-year-old forward averaged 9.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 29.5 minutes per game in 2022.

“Life is full of surprises and 2023 surprised us in the best way possible!” she wrote in a social media announcement of her pregnancy. “We can’t wait to welcome the newest member of our family!”

Emma Hruby and Alex Azzi contributed to this report. 

The first day of the 2023 WNBA season has arrived. Yet of the 36 college stars drafted in April, just 15 appear on opening day rosters.

From No. 1 pick Aliyah Boston to No. 29 pick Kadi Sissoko, here are the draftees who will be suiting up for their teams.

Atlanta Dream

Haley Jones, No. 6 pick

The Stanford product has long been praised for her versatility, as she can play nearly every position on the court. That made Jones an attractive draft pick for the Dream as they build a roster around last year’s No. 1 pick, Rhyne Howard. Jones also brings a high basketball IQ, another important quality for a team looking to establish itself.

Laeticia Amihere, No. 8 pick

Former South Carolina sixth woman Amihere may take a bit longer to develop than some rookies, but her physical skills and high ceiling are worth the wait. Versatility was clearly a priority for the Dream in this draft, as Amihere is another player that does a bit of everything on the court. At 6-4, her length is a major strength that can help the Dream on both ends of the floor.

Indiana Fever

Aliyah Boston, No. 1 pick

Seeing Boston on an opening day roster is no surprise. The No. 1 overall pick is a player to build around, and someone we will likely see in the WNBA for years to come. Boston was pro ready a season ago when South Carolina won the NCAA title, and she will continue to develop as a WNBA player. The 6-5 post has the physical skills – strength and height – as well as impeccable footwork that makes her a tough guard inside.

Grace Berger, No. 7 pick

As the Fever continue to build their identity, the former Hoosier is another player who can contribute right away. Berger is an efficient scorer who excels in the midrange, an offensive style that compliments the rest of the Fever roster. When it comes to guards, Berger is also on the stronger side, so she will likely adjust quickly to the WNBA level.

Victaria Saxton, No. 25 pick

The last Gamecock to be drafted, Saxton will need some time to develop, but again, the Fever are a young team, playing the long game. At 6-2, Saxton is an undersized forward particularly on the defensive end, where she made her mark in college, but she impressed Fever coach Christie Sides in the preseason. Sides cited Saxton’s hustle and attention to detail as two qualities that stood out.

Minnesota Lynx

Diamond Miller, No. 2 pick

Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said during the preseason that Miller might be the most athletic player she’s ever coached. That, plus her length and versatility, made Miller an obvious choice for the No. 2 pick. Miller can score in the half court, on the fast break, and from both inside and outside. She’s an all-around player that will likely be on a WNBA roster for years to come.

Dorka Juhász, No. 16 pick

The former UConn player can make an immediate impact for the Lynx as they continue to rebuild. After the retirement of Sylvia Fowles, Minnesota needs help defending in the paint, and at 6-5, Juhasz offers the kind of length they need. She served as a rim protector at UConn, and recorded 1.4 blocks per game as a senior. Juhasz uses polished footwork to score around defenders, and can impact the Lynx offense as well.

Phoenix Mercury

Kadi Sissoko, No. 29 pick

One of two third round draftees to make opening day rosters, Sissoko may end up being a steal for the Mercury. The 6-2 Sissoko is listed as a forward, but she has guard skills that will transfer well to the WNBA. She can run the floor and create shots off the bounce. Being on the court with players like Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner will leave openings that Sissoko can capitalize on.

Los Angeles Sparks

Zia Cooke, No. 10 pick

The former South Carolina guard is in a great position for success with the Sparks. She can learn from two established guards in Jasmine Thomas and Jordin Canada while polishing her game for the WNBA level. At 5-9, Cooke will have to work to score, but body control and angles are her strong suit, something that will help the guard create around bigger defenders.

Seattle Storm

Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu, No. 21 pick

The former South Florida player is one of three bigs on the Storm roster. Standing at 6-3, Fankam Mendjiadeu gives the Storm a needed post presence on both ends of the floor. Fankam Mendjiadeu finishes well in the paint and is deft at finding seems without the ball. She averaged a double-double during her senior season with 16.5 points and 12.3 rebounds.

Jordan Horston, No. 9 pick

After losing Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird, the Storm are in a rebuild. Horston likely will play big minutes for Seattle this season, and the 6-2 guard is ready for the challenge. A strong finisher who can elevate around the rim, Horston does a little bit of everything, and she is capable of setting up teammates and crashing the boards for rebounds.

Connecticut Sun

Leigha Brown, No. 15 pick

The Michigan product was drafted by the Dream before being traded to the Sun just days before final rosters were announced. Brown brings toughness, defensive ability and a versatile offensive skill set to the Sun. The 6-1 guard can lead a fast break and create for herself or others. Brown averaged 17.5 points, 5.8 assists and 5.1 rebounds during her senior season.

Dallas Wings

Maddy Siegrist, No. 3 pick

The Wings needed to get more scoring in the 2023 draft, and they certainly secured that in Siegrist, who led the NCAA with 29.2 points per game as a senior. The 6-2 Siegrist is listed as a forward but plays more like a guard. The Villanova star can use her strength and ability to shoot from any angle to score in the WNBA.

Lou Lopez Sénéchal, No. 5 pick

Former UConn standout Lopez Sénéchal will start the season on the injured list, as she is set to undergo knee surgery that will cause her to miss six to eight weeks. When healthy, Lopez Sénéchal provides outside shooting that the Wings will need now that Marina Mabrey is playing for the Sky. She shot 44% from beyond the arc in her final collegiate season.

Ashley Joens, No. 19 pick

Joens played five years at Iowa State and was the focal point of the Cyclone offense every season. Joens is a strong guard who can score over defenders in the paint or shoot from outside. Another player who can bring needed scoring to the Wings, Joes averaged 21.6 points per game as a fifth-year senior.

Just 15 of the 36 selections from the 2023 WNBA Draft appear on opening day rosters, a sign of the league’s roster squeeze.

Stars from each of this year’s Final Four teams — including LSU’s Alexis Morris and LaDazhia Williams, Iowa’s Monika Czinano, South Carolina’s Brea Beal, and Virginia Tech’s Kayana Traylor — were among the cuts.

Not all the players left off the opening day rosters were waived by their teams. No. 4 overall pick Stephanie Soares, for example, is out for the season for the Dallas Wings as she recovers from an ACL tear, while No. 12 overall pick Maia Hirsch out of France is a draft-and-stash pick by the Minnesota Lynx.

Still, the lack of available spots has become a pressing issue as both rookie and veteran players alike find themselves on the wrong side of the cuts, with just 15 players from the 2022 draft and just eight from the 2021 draft on rosters for the 2023 WNBA opening weekend.

Which 2023 WNBA Draft picks appear on opening day rosters?

  • First round
    • 1. Aliyah Boston, Indiana Fever
    • 2. Diamond Miller, Minnesota Lynx
    • 3. Maddy Siegrist, Dallas Wings
    • 5. Lou Lopez Sénéchal, Dallas Wings
    • 6. Haley Jones, Atlanta Dream
    • 7. Grace Berger, Indiana Fever
    • 8. Laeticia Amihere, Atlanta Dream
    • 9. Jordan Horston, Seattle Storm
    • 10. Zia Cooke, Los Angeles Sparks
  • Second round
    • 15. Leigha Brown, Atlanta Dream
    • 16. Dorka Juhász, Minnesota Lynx
    • 19. Ashley Joens, Dallas Wings
    • 21. Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu, Seattle Storm
  • Third round 
    • 25. Victaria Saxton, Indiana Fever
    • 29. Kadi Sissoko, Phoenix Mercury
  • Total: 15 players

Which 2022 WNBA Draft picks appear on opening day rosters?

  • First round
    • 1. Rhyne Howard, Atlanta Dream
    • 2. NaLyssa Smith, Indiana Fever
    • 3. Shakira Austin, Washington Mystics
    • 6. Lexie Hull, Indiana Fever Round 1, Pick No. 6 
    • 7. Veronica Burton, Dallas Wings
    • 10. Queen Egbo, Indiana Fever
    • 11. Kierstan Bell, Las Vegas Aces
    • 12. Nia Clouden, Los Angeles Sparks
  • Second round
    • 15. Naz Hillmon, Atlanta Dream
    • 18. Lorela Cubaj, Atlanta Dream
    • 19. Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Connecticut Sun
    • 21. Evina Westbrook, Phoenix Mercury
  • Third round 
    • 29. Sika Koné, Chicago Sky
    • 30. Jasmine Dickey, Dallas Wings
    • 33. Jade Melbourne, Seattle Storm
  • Total: 15 players

Which 2021 WNBA Draft picks appear on opening day rosters?

  • First round
    • 2. Awak Kuier, Dallas Wings
    • 3. Aari McDonald, Atlanta Dream
    • 6. Michaela Onyenwere, Phoenix Mercury
    • *12. Iliana Rupert, Atlanta Dream
      • *Contract suspended to start season due to overseas commitment.
  • Second round
    • 13. Dana Evans, Chicago Sky
    • 20. DiJonai Carrington, Connecticut Sun
    • 22. Arella Guirantes, Seattle Storm
  • Third round 
    • 33. Maya Caldwell, Indiana Fever
  • Total: 8 players

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.

Fresh off an action-packed and historic NCAA Tournament, the WNBA will welcome its next class of rookies at the 2023 draft in New York City on Monday night.

Now that the WNBA has released the official list of players who have declared for the WNBA Draft, it’s time for our final mock draft. Barring any trades, here is my projection for every team’s first-round pick heading into the 2023 season.

1. Indiana Fever

Aliyah Boston, F, South Carolina

Boston has been our projected No. 1 pick since we started our 2023 mock draft in November, so it’s no surprise she remains at the top now. The Fever could use a dominant post presence to add to their repertoire of young, promising talent, and Boston is exactly that player.

The 6-foot-5 South Carolina center officially declared for the draft after the Gamecocks lost in the Final Four, putting to rest the rumors she might use an additional year of NCAA eligibility. Boston bore the brunt of double and triple teams the last two years, closing out her senior season averaging 13 points, 9.8 rebounds and two blocks on 54.8 percent shooting from the field. Boston makes an impact as much on the defensive end as she does on offense, winning the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award for the second consecutive season.

2. Minnesota Lynx

Diamond Miller, G, Maryland

Beyond specific positional needs, the Lynx are searching for sheer talent and a franchise player with this No. 2 pick.

Miller arguably has the most upside of any player on the draft board. The 6-3 guard has a pro-ready build, is a high-level competitor and was dominant all season long, leading Maryland in scoring with 19.7 points per game. She can do a little bit of everything, but 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 was consistent throughout her senior season, and she took her game to another level against top-ranked opponents and on the biggest stages.

(Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

3. Dallas Wings

Maddy Siegrist, F, Villanova

Siegrist steadily worked her way up our draft board this season as she showcased her length, efficiency and sheer dominance on the offensive end of the floor. The nation’s leading scorer at 29.2 points per game in 2023, Siegrist would fill a lot of scoring holes for the Wings. She is the most dominant and prolific scorer in this class and, at 6-2, is anything but one-dimensional. She can stretch the floor, as evidenced by her career 34.9 percent 3-point shooting, and she is highly efficient from the floor, averaging a 48.3 field-goal percentage for her career.

4. Washington Mystics

Stephanie Soares, F/C, Iowa State

The 6-6 center is officially draft eligible after she tore her ACL 13 games into the college season and was denied a waiver for an additional year of NCAA eligibility. Soares joined the Cyclones in 2022 after being named two-time NAIA Player of the Year. Even though her first season at the Power 5 level was cut short, her impact and potential were felt immediately.

Players with Soares’ skill set and size don’t come around very often. She can protect the rim with her length and athleticism, and she can also stretch the floor with a strong 3-point shot. In 13 games this season, Soares averaged 14.4 points and 9.9 rebounds while shooting 54.4 percent from the field and 30.6 percent from the perimeter. While she needs to get healthy and rehab her knee, which will force her to miss the upcoming WNBA season, Soares brings a unique package of size, length and skill that teams would be crazy not to consider. With the right development, her best basketball is ahead of her.

5. Dallas Wings

Jordan Horston, G, Tennessee

If Horston is available here, Dallas has the 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. That potential was on full display in the postseason, with Horston averaging 19 points during Tennessee’s run to the SEC tournament championship game and 16 points in the NCAA Tournament.

At 6-2, Horston has length and athleticism that should translate well to the next level on both ends of the floor. She can score, rebound the ball and elevate over opponents, and her passing ability is underrated. The guard had her most efficient scoring season for Tennessee in 2022-23, shooting 43.8 percent from the field.

(Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

6. Atlanta Dream

Haley Jones, G, Stanford

Atlanta will have the chance to add versatility, shot creation and defense with this pick. Jones has long been touted as a lottery selection, so if she were to drop to this point, the Dream could be getting a steal.

Jones is a cerebral player with a proven ability to make those around her better. The 6-1 guard is in a category of her own in this draft class. She can initiate offense as a point-forward, averaging a career-best four 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 and would fit right into head coach Tanisha Wright’s defensive system.

Jones’ downside is her perimeter shooting: She made only three 3-pointers this past season under 10 percent from deep. She will need to continue to develop her range to stretch defenses at the next level.

7. Indiana Fever

Grace Berger, G, Indiana

The Fever could go in a number of different directions with this pick. In Berger, Indiana would not only be getting an in-state college product but also one of the most experienced and composed players in the draft class. The 6-0 guard has the “it” factor as a tough and disciplined competitor.

While Indiana’s roster looks 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 averaged a career-best 5.8 assists per game for Indiana this season, and while she’s not known for her 3-point shot, she averaged 40.7 percent from range this season. Her on-court leadership would be a welcome addition to the Fever’s young, rebuilding roster.

8. Atlanta Dream

Dorka Juhász, F, UConn

Atlanta needs to address interior depth, and with many of the top post prospects returning to the NCAA, this class is slim at the position. Within that group, Juhász stands out as one of the most consistent forwards from her time playing professionally in Hungary and at top collegiate programs in Ohio State and UConn.

At 6-5, Juhász has an elite combination of skill and size, with the mobility and versatility to score and defend. What flies under the radar are her overall basketball IQ and playmaking ability. She averaged a double-double this season for UConn, with 14.5 points and 10 rebounds per game, while also averaging 3.2 assists. Juhász impacts nearly every statistical category and has done so at the highest levels.

(C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

9. Seattle Storm

Zia Cooke, G, South Carolina

More than any other team in the league, the Storm need depth in the backcourt. Cooke is coming off one her best and most consistent seasons at South Carolina, having averaged 15.4 points per game while shooting a career-best 40.5 percent from the field. In addition to her scoring, she improved in nearly every area of her game this past season, and her draft stock rose with it. With the ball in her hands more often, she registered the fewest turnovers of her career. If Cooke falls to No. 9, Seattle cannot miss out on the opportunity to select her.

Coming off of playing under Dawn Staley and in three straight Final Fours, Cooke will enter the WNBA with a pro-ready mentality. In South Carolina’s loss to Iowa in the national semifinal, the 5-9 guard stepped up with a team-high 24 points as other players faltered on offense. In Cooke, Seattle would be getting a dynamic scorer and a player capable of initiating the offense, something they desperately need.

10. Los Angeles Sparks

Lou Lopez Sénéchal, G/F, UConn

The Sparks are in dire need of a scoring wing who can stretch the floor as a perimeter threat, and there are several promising prospects who fit that profile.

Lopez Sénéchal made the jump from Fairfield to UConn this past season and thrived in the high-pressure atmosphere as one of the best shotmakers in the country. She increased her efficiency while taking fewer shots per game, shooting a career-best 47.6 percent from the floor and 44 percent from the 3-point line. The 6-1 grad student was forced to step up as UConn dealt with injuries to several key players throughout the season, and she responded, helping the Huskies reach the Sweet 16. Lopez Sénéchal is just the type of wing who could be thrown into the fire her rookie season and produce right away.

11. Dallas Wings

Taylor Mikesell, G, Ohio State

Like the Sparks, the Wings need to add perimeter shooting and should be able to address it with their three first-round picks. Mikesell has a pro-ready frame, skill set and understanding of the game that should translate well to the next level. 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 past season as she helped carry an injury-ridden Ohio State team that was without guard Jacy Sheldon for most of the year. Despite being the focal point of opposing scouting reports every night, the 5-11 guard shot 41.4 percent from deep and showed she can score in other ways. Mikesell has the tools to thrive as a pro when defenses aren’t honed in on her specifically.

(Rebecca Gratz/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

12. Minnesota Lynx

Ashley Joens, G/F, Iowa State

Minnesota has a lot of holes to fill, but at this point in the draft, it comes down to the best player still remaining on the board. Joens fits the mold as a tough player with a unique skill set and five years of high-level experience. She has a nonstop motor and a strong work ethic, and when faced with adversity, she finds ways to impact games and manufacture points.

The 6-1 guard averaged 21.6 points per game and 35.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc for the Cyclones this season. She is a career 35.7-percent 3-point shooter with over 950 attempts from the perimeter during her last five seasons in Ames. She makes the right reads, exposes mismatches and creates offense when she needs to. She is also a strong rebounder from the guard spot and can play with her back to the basket. Joens is rarely rattled on the court, but she’ll need to be able to transition from being the go-to player to being efficient while taking way fewer shots in the WNBA.

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.

The 2023 WNBA Draft is almost here, with some of the nation’s top college stars available.

Just Women’s Sports breaks down everything you need to know ahead of the big event.

When is it?

The 2023 WNBA Draft is set for 7 p.m. ET Monday, April 10, in New York City.

Where can I watch the draft?

All three rounds of the draft will air on ESPN and ESPN+.

Who are the names to know?

Aliyah Boston, South Carolina

  • Boston is one of four Gamecocks players who you should keep your eyes on heading into the draft. The presumptive No. 1 pick, the 6-5 forward swept the national player of the year awards in 2022 and finished as the runner-up for those awards in 2023.

Stephanie Soares, Iowa State

  • WNBA GMs reportedly like what they see in Soares, who was one of Iowa State’s best players before tearing her ACL in early January. After making the jump from the NAIA, Soares averaged 14.4 points and 9.9 rebounds per game through 13 games. Just Women’s Sports’ Rachel Galligan even dubbed Soares as a potential “unicorn” based on her abilities to have a long WNBA career.

Maddy Siegrist, Villanova

  • Siegrist played her way into a first-round pick this season, having a career-best year while leading the nation in scoring with 29.2 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. She became the Big East’s all-time leading scorer and she broke a record held by Kelsey Plum, scoring at least 20 points in every single game this season.

Diamond Miller, Maryland

  • The 6-3 guard has a ton of upside, having dominated all season long with a team-leading 19.7 points per game. She also has range on the perimeter, and she is an outstanding rebounder that could help lift any team to new heights.

What is the draft order?

First round

  • 1. Indiana Fever
  • 2. Minnesota Lynx
  • 3. Dallas Wings
  • 4. Washington Mystics
  • 5. Dallas Wings
  • 6. Atlanta Dream
  • 7. Indiana Fever
  • 8. Atlanta Dream
  • 9. Seattle Storm
  • 10. Los Angeles Sparks
  • 11. Dallas Wing
  • 12. Minnesota Lynx

Second round

  • 13. Indiana Fever
  • 14. Los Angeles Sparks
  • 15. Atlanta Dream
  • 16. Minnesota Lynx
  • 17. Indiana Fever
  • 18. Seattle Storm
  • 19. Dallas Wings
  • 20. Washington Mystics
  • 21. Seattle Storm
  • 22. Connecticut Sun
  • 23. Chicago Sky
  • 24. Minnesota Lynx

Third round

  • 25. Indiana Fever
  • 26. Los Angeles Sparks
  • 27. Phoenix Mercury
  • 28. Minnesota Lynx
  • 29. Phoenix Mercury
  • 30. New York Liberty
  • 31. Dallas Wings
  • 32. Washington Mystics
  • 33. Seattle Storm
  • 34. Connecticut Sun
  • 35. Chicago Sky
  • 36. Las Vegas Aces

As the college basketball season comes to a close, players are declaring for the 2023 WNBA Draft, with nearly 80 already throwing their hats in the ring.

Players have 48 hours after their final collegiate game to declare their intent to enter the draft. So far, those who have declared include Tennessee’s Jordan Horston and Iowa State’s Stephanie Soares. Stanford’s Haley Jones, Indiana’s Grace Berger and Villanova’s Maddy Siegrist also feature on the list.

But others, including Tennessee’s Rickea Jackson, have opted to stay at their colleges another year.

Projected No. 2 overall pick Diamond Miller has yet to declare for the draft following Maryland’s loss to South Carolina on Monday, with the clock ticking. The senior also could opt to use her COVID-19 eligibility year.

Other players who could return to use their COVID years include South Carolina seniors Zia Cooke, Brea Beal and even presumptive No. 1 pick Aliyah Boston, who remained coy when asked Monday about whether or not she planned to return to the Gamecocks for a fifth season. Virginia Tech’s Elizabeth Kitley also will have a choice to make following the end of the Hokies’ run in the NCAA Tournament.

The WNBA has utilized the opt-in process since 2021, when the NCAA granted every winter sport athlete an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2023 WNBA Draft is set to take place at 7 p.m. ET Monday, April 10.

View the full list of players who have declared for the draft here.

Diamond Miller and Maryland questioned the foul calls in their 86-75 loss to South Carolina in Monday’s Elite Eight contest.

Both Abby Meyers and Faith Masonius fouled out of the game, while Shyanne Sellers and Diamond Miller both found themselves in foul trouble. Overall, Maryland committed 26 fouls to South Carolina’s 12. 

And if you ask Miller, she says it feels like “all the fouls were going one way.”

“So we were really physical because apparently they were getting all the foul calls,” she said after the loss. “That just shows we have heart, we have grit, and just because they’re taller doesn’t mean we can’t bang. If y’all didn’t see that we were banging today, I don’t know what could show you that.

“Clearly we needed to be more physical, I guess, on the offensive side because every time they hit us, nothing was called.”

Maryland coach Brenda Frese called the second quarter a turning point. Despite Maryland holding a 21-15 lead after the first quarter, foul trouble soon set in, forcing Miller and Sellers to the bench.

“You felt like you were coaching with one arm behind your back,” Frese said of the second quarter. “When they were calling so many of them, you were kind of just juggling who you had on the bench and back and forth, and it kind of felt like that all game. You’re just trying to see who you could keep in the longest.

“But that second quarter was costly, the amount of free throws. We’re typically a team that gets to the free throw line 20, 25 times. We only got there 15 times, and it was five after half. They got there 26 times. Just difficult trying to kind of figure out who you could keep in there that wasn’t going to get into foul trouble. We tried to mix up our defenses to keep us out of it, but they were able to exploit it from both ends.”

Meyers tried to take on more of the scoring load with both Miller and Sellers sitting in the second quarter to avoid more fouls, but then she found herself racking up fouls. 

“I don’t think the style of the game changed. We were playing physical the entire time, and it was unfortunate that I guess I put myself in that situation to have those fouls called against,” Meyers said. “It’s just frustrating when that happens when you try to stay on the court to help the team, but you can only do so much.”

Despite any issues Maryland had with the officiating, Miller placed responsibility for the loss on the Terrapins. But she also said her team still has a lot to be proud of.

“At the end of the day, I can’t dwell on what the refs call,” Miller said. “I’m not going to say the refs lost us the game. That’s not what I’m saying by any means. I mean, they out-rebounded us, as we kind of expected, let’s be honest. But they out-rebounded us, and they got more second-chance points. And it was our second quarter. They beat us 23-9. Nine points in one quarter is tough to come back from.

“I think we fought hard today. Supposedly we’re undersized, but we just lost to the defending reigning champs by 11 and other teams that had bigger posts than us are getting blown out by 30. I don’t believe in moral victories of any sort, but I think we fought hard,” she continued. “They’re big. I’m going to tip my hat to them. I usually don’t do that, but they’re big, and I think what was our downfall was just how big they were in the post, and the second quarter, of course.”

When Diamond Miller crossed up Notre Dame’s Kylee Watson with two seconds left on the clock of a tie game on Dec. 2, Maryland fans held their breath.

All but one.

Sitting on a couch in her family’s home in New Jersey, Adreana Miller didn’t flinch. Her younger sister had already put up 29 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the game, and when she saw the move Diamond was executing, it felt like it was happening in slow motion.

Adreana had seen it before. She’d been the victim of Diamond’s dagger-like shooting in countless games of one-on-one, where she’d look over her shoulder to see her younger sister burying that same shot. The one-footed jumper might as well have been a layup, Adreana said. Shooting off the bounce from the elbow is Diamond’s “bread and butter.”

The outcome, she believed, was a forgone conclusion.

So, Adreana didn’t even celebrate when the shot fell through the net, lifting Maryland to a 74-72 win over then-No. 7 Notre Dame in South Bend. But when Diamond put her finger to her lips, shushing the crowd, she couldn’t help but smile.

The moment was quintessential Diamond Miller.

Just nine months earlier, there were no forgone conclusions in Diamond’s life. She didn’t know if she would be in a position to hit buzzer-beaters. She didn’t even know if she would be wearing a Maryland jersey this season.

A knee injury that nagged her throughout her junior year needed surgery, and when the 2021-22 season came to a close, she found out her teammates and best friends at Maryland, Angel Reese and Ashley Owusu, would be leaving the program.

The basketball bubble she had grown accustomed to was changing.

For the first time in a long time, Diamond Miller’s future was uncertain.


By the time Diamond was old enough to play organized basketball, she had already been waiting years to put on a uniform. Her father, Lance, had been a standout player at Villanova — the school that later gave Diamond her first scholarship offer in eighth grade — and when Adreana was old enough, Lance set up an AAU program.

From then on, it was a waiting game for Diamond. She and the third Miller sister, LaNiya, spent countless hours on the sidelines, waiting for their turns.

Wanting to follow in her oldest sister’s footsteps, Diamond adopted the same short shorts that Adreana sported but added her own twist to the uniform. Diamond and LaNiya thought they would start a new trend when they accessorized their jersey and shorts with tall, tie-dye socks. One was blue and the other yellow, to match their team colors.

“They were up to my knees,” Diamond says with a laugh, her cheeks perking up to reveal two pronounced dimples. “We thought we were so cool.”

The socks didn’t last long, but basketball was never going away.

The only person in the Miller family who didn’t play the sport is their mother, Dreana — though that is a running joke with the Miller sisters. Despite aunts, uncles and grandparents all denying Dreana’s basketball background, their mother maintains that she played in high school.

Whether she did or didn’t doesn’t matter. Dreana is now fully a basketball mom. All three of her daughters played in college, and her youngest son, Landen, plays for his high school team. After numerous shooting sessions with her kids, Dreana has developed into a skilled rebounder.

But when it comes to basketball advice, Diamond goes to her dad. There was a time when she wasn’t so receptive to his input, but now she soaks it all in.

“He’s my dad, he’s my coach, and he’s also a mentor when it comes to the game,” Diamond says. “He sees things from a different perspective, now that he’s not playing.”

He was also responsible for the first time Diamond felt uncomfortable as a basketball player.

She always played up an age group with LaNiya, which despite being a more difficult level of basketball, brought a level of comfort. One day, the younger age group — the team Diamond technically should have been playing for — was low on numbers. Lance asked Diamond to step in, but she was resistant.

“I told him I didn’t want to play with them, and I was so nervous,” she says.

But being uncomfortable turned out to be a good thing. Because when Diamond played with girls her own age, she was able to see just how good she was. The years of playing up had paid off.

“When I played at my level, I was dominating,” she says. “And I was like, ‘Am I good at this sport?’ It was like an aha moment.”

After that, no element of basketball could scare her. At least not for a long time.

Diamond quickly became a sought-after prospect. By ninth grade, she could beat Adreana in one-on-one. She helped the USA U-16 team to a gold medal, became the leading scorer in Franklin High School history and was named a McDonald’s All-American. By the time she was ready for college, Miller had her pick of schools as the 18th-ranked player in the country.

She whittled down her offers to two schools, Notre Dame and Maryland, and chose the latter in part because of its proximity to her home state of New Jersey.

When she got to Maryland, Diamond enjoyed instant success. She played 19 minutes a game as a freshman, making three starts and averaging 7.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. During her sophomore year, Diamond completely erupted, earning All-Big Ten honors thanks to her 17.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.9 assist and 1.4 steals per game.

Diamond Miller drives to the basket against Indiana's Grace Berger during her freshman year at Maryland. (Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

She expected more of the same in her junior year. But a knee injury meant Diamond could play in only 22 of her team’s games, and her numbers (particularly her scoring) took a slight dip.

It was a trying season, both for Diamond and for Maryland. The Terrapins started the season ranked No. 4 in the country before stumbling to a 23-9 record and a Sweet 16 loss at the hands of Stanford. Still, when it was over, Diamond drew praise for her play and the way she handled adversity.

Plus, the knee that limited her seemed healthy once more, and with a few weeks rest, Diamond thought she would be back playing basketball and preparing for the 2022-23 season with her friends.

That’s not what happened. Instead, for just the second time in her life, basketball made Diamond uncomfortable.


It was a spring day in 2022, just after the conclusion of her junior season, and Diamond wanted to be alone.

She spent her childhood surrounded by people, with a close-knit family and three siblings always there to keep her company. When she got to Maryland, Miller made two best friends that she spent all her time with. Being alone was never something she did.

But now, it was all she wanted.

Miller had a check-up for the knee injury that had nagged her all season. She no longer felt pain, so she went into the appointment as an optimist.

But her knee never healed. The stress fracture that she no longer felt was still there, and she was told she needed surgery.

She left the appointment in tears, keeping her head down and trying to get across campus as fast as possible so no one would see her and ask what was wrong.

But Miller’s quest for isolation was interrupted when she heard teammates Faith Masonius and Shyanne Sellers calling out to her.

“Diamond!” they shouted in unison. Their excitement quickly turned to concern as they saw the tears on Miller’s cheeks.

They asked what was wrong and Miller pushed them away. She needed space, or so she thought. But they wouldn’t relent.

“No,” they said, “We are driving you home.”

Miller, Shyanne Sellers and Faith Masonius have become closer as teammates and friends in the past year. (Alex Martin/Journal and Courier/USA TODAY Sports)

And so, while everything seemed to be falling apart, Miller got in the car. It was serendipitous that Sellers and Masonius were the two people there at one of her lowest points. They were her teammates, but at the time, Miller didn’t feel connected to them outside of a team setting. Soon, they would become two of her closest friends, and Masonius would even help her through physical therapy for her knee.

But when they picked Miller up that day, things were changing rapidly for the rising senior. Soon, her best friends on the team — Reese and Owusu — would announce their decisions to leave, and Miller would find herself at a crossroads.

Suddenly, nothing was going Diamond’s way, and she didn’t know how to handle it.


It wasn’t that Diamond was worried she wouldn’t recover from knee surgery, it was the missed time that scared her.

Despite all the success she’d had in basketball since she first pulled up those tie-dye knee socks, Diamond had a habit of comparing herself to those around her. She worried that while she focused on rehabbing her injury and getting healthy, everyone else in college basketball would be improving their skills. Diamond wondered if she’d be left behind.

“Everybody’s going to be above me now. I’m hurt, I can’t prove nothing for myself,” Diamond remembers thinking. “Everyone is just higher than me and better than me.”

But like the last time Diamond was forced out of her comfort zone, when her dad asked her to play for a different team, the injury had a positive impact.

It forced her to be alone with her thoughts, without the familiar sounds of sneakers on a court and dribbling basketballs. And Diamond learned to be more than just a basketball player. She loves the game so much that it consumed her, and when she couldn’t play, Diamond went through an identity crisis.

She remembers sitting in her room one day and asking herself, “Who is Diamond?”

And as she struggled to find herself, Diamond was also lonely. Her family was a phone call away, and her boyfriend was on campus with her, but Owusu and Reese — the friends that kept her smiling through the hardships — were no longer there. Owusu had transferred to Virginia Tech, and Reese had moved on to LSU. Diamond had no choice but to embrace her new circumstances.

“I found love in the loneliness of that situation,” she says.

So, while she recovered, Diamond committed to learning about herself and finding ways to love who she was off the court.

Diamond learned that she likes feeling sunshine on her face, and taking long walks with music to match whatever mood she’s in.

“I can be listening to sad songs, and still vibing and smiling,” she says with a laugh. “Or I can listen to Lil Baby and be rapping. I love a good variety.”

She learned that she likes puzzles. Her teammates tease her because she will break one out at any time of the day, even at 6 a.m.

Diamond also discovered that it wasn’t too late to form new friendships. She bonded with Sellers and Masonius, and another, unlikely person: coach Brenda Frese.

When Diamond got to Maryland, she wasn’t interested in having a relationship with Frese, other than doing what she said on the basketball court.

To people like Adreana, Diamond is playful, goofy and spirited. The kind of person that brings joy into every interaction. But to those outside of her circle, it takes longer for her to open up. And with such a strong circle of supporters, Diamond isn’t quick to let others in.

Frese had to work to connect with her star player.

“Freshman year, I didn’t even want to talk to her,” Miller says. “I didn’t want a relationship with her, but as time went on, I got more comfortable talking with her. I got to see her as a coach and a human all at once.”

Maryland coach Brenda Frese felt she had to re-recruit Miller after multiple players transferred out. (Matt Cashore/USA TODAY Sports)

It was the little things that made Diamond open up. Throughout the offseason, Frese was dealing with players transferring in and out. It was chaos trying to build a roster for 2022-23, but when it came to Diamond, Frese was focused on her well-being.

“She was always asking, ‘How are you? How is your knee?’” Diamond says. “And it was really important for me that she was more worried about my health.”

Over the summer, Diamond did an internship with Maryland’s Director of Basketball Operations and spent a lot of her time in the office with Frese. She had to communicate with her coaching staff in a new way, and in turn, they saw a different side of Diamond.

“It brought her out of feeling so quiet and uncomfortable,” Frese says. “She really blossomed and got comfortable with everybody.”

Diamond took her internship duties seriously. Frese was already accustomed to her intense focus and work ethic on the court, but soon discovered that Diamond carries that with her off the court as well. Even the most menial tasks were done with focus and care.

“You’re not sure how your best player is going to respond to in-house duties like that, but she was a rockstar,” Frese says. “Some people might give pushback, but she never did.”


When Owusu and Reese announced their decisions to transfer, it left Diamond as the lone starter from the 2021-22 season. With them in the transfer portal, and Chloe Bibby and Katie Benzan graduating, Diamond had no idea what the Terrapins roster would look like.

Diamond is a straight shooter. It may take a while for her to open up, but she is always honest. And honestly, she thought about leaving Maryland, too.

“I was nervous, because we weren’t really having a team,” she says. “I knew they were going to recruit really hard, but you still never know. I didn’t want to put myself in a situation, especially for my senior year, where I was struggling.

“I was definitely like, ‘Should I stay and try a new team out? Or should I leave?”

For Frese, keeping Diamond was the No. 1 priority in the offseason. She knew she’d have to build a brand-new roster, but Diamond had to be the foundation of the team.

So, she started recruiting her again.

“There were a lot of things going on behind the scenes, and her being persuaded and other teams trying to get her as well,” Frese says.

“I wasn’t just going to sit back and let other people have conversations with her behind the scenes. That’s the difference now with the portal is that it’s going on all year, and when the season ends, even more so.”

Diamond spent hours on the phone with her sisters and her parents, trying to sort out what was best for her. Ultimately, she came to a realization: No matter what she did, she would be starting over.

If she left, she would join a brand-new team, and if she stayed, a brand-new team would join her.

In countless conversations with various family members, they reminded her of one thing: The grass isn’t always greener.

“She had grown tremendously there, so why leave?” Adreana says. “At the end of the day, it’s about what you do with your opportunity, so we told her to worry less about other people and more about herself.”

Miller had a big decision to make after friends Ashley Owusu and Angel Reese left the program last year. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

In conjunction with her injury recovery and navigating what she wanted for her senior year, Diamond took their advice to heart. She worried about herself. Gradually, she realized that no matter what school she was at, or how long it took her knee to heal, she would still be successful. She didn’t have to fear being left behind as other players improved. She didn’t have to look at her competitors and try to be like them.

“There are a lot of great players out there,” she said. “And they do their thing, but they don’t strive to be me. There’s a lot of talented people, and maybe I can’t do what they do, but they can’t do what I do, either. But what I can do is be the best version of myself.”

One thing Diamond didn’t have to learn was what she wanted for her future. The WNBA has long been in her sights.

Diamond is considered the No. 2 prospect on most draft boards, behind Aliyah Boston of South Carolina. She’s 6-foot-3 with a long, athletic build — the ideal body type for the WNBA — and she’s versatile on both offense and defense.

“She’s going to be a really difficult matchup at the next level,” Frese says.

For Frese, that was a key point in her re-recruitment. Maryland has a reputation for developing WNBA prospects, and every time Diamond plays, she sees scouts in the stands.

In that respect, staying was a no-brainer.

The more she thought about it, the more the rest made sense, too.

“If I left or if I stayed, I was still going to play basketball and have to play basketball at the best of my abilities,” she says.

So, Diamond embraced the unknown.

She didn’t know who would be on the team — Maryland added five transfers in the offseason — or how they would mesh together. But when Diamond decided to stay, that’s what she was signing up for, and the senior decided to go into her last season with zero expectations.

“That was so weird, but I wanted to change my thought process on how I approached the game anyway,” she says. “I put in the work, I put in the preparation, I wasn’t about to overthink it.”

With Diamond as the cornerstone, Frese rounded out the roster with transfers Brinae Alexander, Lavender Briggs, Abby Meyers, Elisa Pinzan and Allie Kubek.

Leading up to the season, the Terrapins held a team retreat. During the day, they did obstacle courses and other team-building activities, and at night they stayed up late, watching movies and talking, like an elementary school sleepover.

The Terrapins took things day by day, then week by week, then month by month. And eventually, Diamond’s re-commitment and her team’s new commitment paid off. Suddenly, Maryland was competing. Suddenly, they were beating UConn and shushing the Notre Dame crowd and rising into the top 10 of the AP Top-25 poll. And despite the odds, the Terrapins became a tight-knit squad, finishing the season at 25-7 and earning a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament that begins Friday.

“You can see the love on the court,” Diamond says. “There is no animosity towards one another, and that is a good feeling.”

(Greg Fiume/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

When Diamond shushed the crowd on Dec. 1, she was shushing all the doubters. The people who thought her team wouldn’t be successful without Owusu and Reese. The people who counted them out before the season even started.

It was a statement to everyone, including herself.

That she could get injured, come back and still be an elite player. That she could play with a whole new group of players and still be successful. That no matter what was happening around her, she was in control.

“At the end of the day, what was for her would be for her,” Adreana reminded her during many conversations.

Basketball was for her. Making big shots was for her. Maryland was for her.

Diamond didn’t need to go anywhere else to be successful. She didn’t need to compare herself to other players. She didn’t need to be just a basketball player.

Now, Diamond is grateful for the injury. She says God knew she needed it. Until that point, everything had been too perfect. It pushed her out of her comfort zone and reminded her of something.

No matter what’s going on around her, one thing will always be certain.

“I’m still Diamond Miller,” she says with a smile. “I’m one of a kind. There is only one of me.”

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

The NCAA Tournament not only provides basketball fans with chills and thrills. March Madness also provides a sneak peek at the stars soon to join the WNBA ranks.

Just Women’s Sports analyst Rachel Galligan projected every first-round pick for the 2023 WNBA Draft in April. Based on her mock draft, here are the four potential lottery picks to watch as the NCAA Tournament gets underway.

Aliyah Boston, F, South Carolina

The consensus No. 1 pick leads the No. 1 overall seed into the tournament with her sights set on a repeat title. Boston and the Gamecocks won the national championship against UConn last year, and the undefeated Gamecocks look even stronger this time around.

While Boston’s stats have not been as strong this season, her 13.3 points and 9.7 rebounds per game are nonetheless impressive — especially when considering the heavy defensive pressure the 6-foot-5 post receives from opponents.

JWS Bracket Challenge: Sign up for a chance to win $150,000!

Diamond Miller, G, Maryland

The second-seeded Terrapins lost four of their starters in the offseason, two to the transfer portal and two to graduation. But you wouldn’t know it to look at them, in large part thanks to the skill and composure of Miller, their lone holdover in the starting lineup.

The 6-3 guard is averaging 19.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.1 steals per game for Maryland, the best numbers of her career. After an injury-plagued junior season, she has looked stronger than ever in her senior season.

Rickea Jackson, F, Tennessee

The high-profile transfer had a rocky start to her Tennessee tenure, as she was benched for two games in early December due to a coach’s decision.

Since her return, though, Jackson has flourished for the fourth-seeded Volunteers. The 6-2 forward leads the team with 19.6 points per game, and she is peaking at the right time, with a 26-point double-double to lead Tennessee over LSU in the SEC tournament semifinals.

Haley Jones, G, Stanford

Jones’ value comes in her versatility. The 6-1 guard can score, she can create plays, and she can defend with the best of them. For Stanford this season, she is averaging 13.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.

The No. 1 seed in the second Seattle region, Cardinal have lost two of their last three games — to Utah in their regular-season finale and to UCLA in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals. But with Jones’ steady presence, they still have what it takes to reach the Final Four for a third consecutive season.

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