The Atlanta Dream, looking for a versatile footballer to help rebuild their team, selected keeper Rhyne Howard from the University of Kentucky as number 1 in the WNBA draft Monday at Spring Studios in New York.
Prior to the appointment, Dream Managing Director Dan Padover said the team was looking for a player who had brought “new powers and introduced something under our license.”
There is very little that Howard can do. She is in the top 10 of almost every statistics group in Kentucky, and has earned the second place in the history of women’s and men’s programs. Last month, Howard led Kentucky to its first Southeastern Conference title since 1982 when the team handed South Carolina, the 2022 national champion, their second and final loss of the season. Howard, from Chattanooga, Tenn., Finished his senior year with 20.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
Kentucky, the 6th seed in this year’s NCAA Division I women’s basketball tournament, lost to No. his strong men’s team.
In order to be selected, Dreams rocked the record last week as number 1 in a deal with Washington Mystics. In return, Mystics will receive all of the Dream 3 and 14 options. Mystics also has the right to exchange elections starting in 2023, which are expected to attract deep talent around the country.
Atlanta finished 8-24 last season, the second worst record in the WNBA, and missed the playoffs for the past three years. The addition of Howard to the Dream team strengthens their round-the-clock game, which should help the team sell the Chennedy Carter guards to the Los Angeles Sparks during the break.
Some notes are very heavy; some are deeper, ”Padover said. “This is probably deeper than anything else.” He also said that this year’s record has provided the best talent from 2018 or 2019.
This year, 108 college players have rejected their NCAA eligibility requirements to be drafted, more than twice as many as in 2021. International players who are no longer eligible to play in the NCAA will also be considered. But the chances of getting a place in the team are slim: There are 36 opportunities to prepare 12 WNBA teams, with only 12 divisions. With only 144 spots, many players and fans are calling for big teams and more teams, which the WNBA would reject.
One reason for the high number of college graduates may be an epidemic. College athletes are usually eligible to play four seasons in five years. After the epidemic disrupted the schedule, the NCAA added a special bonus year for any athlete who lost playing time in the 2019-2020 season.
If they don’t go to the WNBA this year and still have the right season, athletes can go back to their college (assuming there is a place for them on the list).
Julie Roe Lach, Commissioner of the Horizon League, said the organizing team this year is imitating the similarities made in the 2022 NCAA women’s basketball tournament, which saw six teams with two numbers reach the 16th division.
“You have names you can expect to see, but we see a lot of schools with players who seem to be well-prepared,” he said. “This speaks to the amount of talent we see across the country of these great basketball players.”
The WNBA season kicks off May 6 with eight teams, including the reigning champion Chicago Sky, in action.