2024 WNBA mock draft: Caitlin Clark goes No. 1, Angel Reese falls

Caitlin Clark, the transcendent Iowa superstar who set college scoring records by the threeful and in recent weeks made women’s basketball one of America’s most-watched television shows, will join the Indiana Fever as the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft on Monday night (7:30 p.m., ESPN).

“I want to personally thank Caitlin Clark for lifting up our sport,” South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said after her team defeated Clark and Iowa for the national championship last Sunday.

“She carried a heavy load for our sport. And it’s just not going to stop here on the collegiate tour. But when she’s the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft, she’s going to lift that league up as well.”

Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark reacting after scoring a three-point basket against South Carolina Gamecocks in the 2024 NCAA Women's Basketball Final Four National Championship
Caitlin Clark signals after hitting a 3-pointer for Iowa in the 2024 national championship game.USA TODAY Sports

OK, that’s the layup portion of these predictions.

How will the rest of a draft night with historic levels of anticipation — college stars such as LSU’s Angel Reese, South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso and Stanford’s Cameron Brink will join Clark at the festivities in Brooklyn — shake out?

(Quick reminder: Would-be lottery pick Paige Bueckers has said she will return to UConn, and underclassmen such as USC star JuJu Watkins are ineligible for the WNBA draft.)

Here are our projections for the first round:

No. 1 Indiana Fever: Caitlin Clark, Iowa, PG

The questions around the all-time NCAA leading scorer already have moved past whether Clark will land in Indiana — imagine if the Fever trade the pick after all this, though, what a hoot that would be! — to whether she’ll be a top-10 player or merely an All-Star as a rookie. Fatigue and highly motivated defenders will work against her, but she’ll also have the best teammates she’s ever had.

No. 2 Los Angeles Sparks: Cameron Brink, Stanford, PF

Cameron Brink #22 of Stanford Cardinal celebrating a play during the Pac-12 Conference women's basketball tournament against the Oregon State Beavers

Former Stanford forward Cameron Brink is set to go early in the 2024 WNBA draft.Getty Images

In Brink, you’re getting the best defender in college basketball (3.7 blocks, 11.9 rebounds per game as a senior). That’s the worst case. At best, you’re getting an inside-out, rim-protecting, capable-shooting unicorn. If it doesn’t work out, the starting-over Sparks can try to flip Steph Curry’s parents’ goddaughter to the expansion Bay Area team in 2025.

No. 3 Chicago Sky: Rickea Jackson, Tennessee, SF

The rebuilding Sky need scoring, and Jackson (20.2 points per game) is a pro-ready bucket. She more than held her own against WNBA competition when Tennessee played Team USA in an exhibition in the fall. Some of the same chatter about Jackson’s inconsistent motor followed 2022 No. 1 overall pick Rhyne Howard, and she leveled up once she reached the league.

No. 4 Los Angeles Sparks: Kamilla Cardoso, South Carolina, C

Kamilla Cardoso #10 of the South Carolina Gamecocks reacting during NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Final Four semifinal in Cleveland, Ohio.
Kamilla Cardoso’s draft stock rose during South Carolina’s run to the national title.Getty Images
Had a mind to send the 6-foot-7 Cardoso to the Sky at No. 3 and then have her joined as teammates by former SEC grudge-match combatant Angel Reese (don’t worry, we’ll get to her). Instead, the two-time national champion and one of the co-stars of the forthcoming Omaha Productions documentary heads to Hollywood, where she’ll get plenty of reps to develop her offensive game.

No. 5 Dallas Wings: Nyadiew Puoch, Australia, SF/PF

This is less any specific insight about Puoch, a 20-year-old Aussie who “has placed herself firmly on the radar because of her elite defense,” according to The Next. It’s more an expectation of the often-confounding Wings doing something to puzzle everyone tuning in to see their college faves. Maybe it’s Isobel Borlase, also from Australia, or a draft-and-stash French guard such as Carla Leite or Leila Lacan. Something odd.

No. 6 Washington Mystics: Aaliyah Edwards, UConn, PF

Aaliyah Edwards and Paige Bueckers of the UConn Huskies reacting during the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Final Four semifinal game against the Iowa Hawkeyes
Aaliyah Edwards (left, with Paige Bueckers) turned pro after four seasons at UConn.Getty Images
Last seen committing the controversial offensive foul that sent Iowa past UConn into the title game, Edwards (17.6 points, 9.2 rebounds) is a high-motor, high-IQ player with the Geno Auriemma imprint (Huskies have a way of succeeding in the WNBA) and room to grow on offense. The Mystics have long-term questions at the power forward spot with Elena Delle Donne saying she’ll sit out this season.

No. 7 Chicago Sky: Angel Reese, LSU, PF

LSU forward Angel Reese in purple uniform, bringing the ball up court during an Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament
Angel Reese in action for LSU during the 2024 NCAA Tournament.AP
You might be thinking: “What?!? How is Reese so low — she put up monster stats, was the best player on a title team and is one of the faces of the sport!” Well, there are also pressing questions about how Reese’s game will translate: Can she continue her signature offensive rebounding rate (6.0 per game over two LSU seasons) against pros? Will her awkward-angle finishing and utter lack of shooting remove her as a scoring threat? What about that mystery midseason absence? The Sky, who traded up one pick into this spot Sunday morning, have a new head coach in Teresa Weatherspoon who has mentored Zion Williamson and a need for more Q rating.

What do you think? Post a comment.

No. 8 Minnesota Lynx: Jacy Sheldon, Ohio State, SG

Sheldon is a lower-ceiling prospect with a reasonably high floor: a strong leader and relentless perimeter defender who shot a career-high 37.3 percent from 3 on five attempts per game in 2023-24. Cheryl Reeve seems almost constitutionally incapable of turning out a lottery team, but if there’s any way of securing the No. 1 pick in 2025 and bringing Bueckers home to Minnesota, the Lynx have to get it done.

No. 9 Dallas Wings: Charisma Osborne, UCLA, SG

The Wings continue to search for the right complement to Arike Ogunbowale in the backcourt. Osborne, a five-year icon of the Bruins program, can guard the ball, even at 5-foot-9. The question is whether she can shoot well enough (career 32.3 percent from 3) to stick.

No. 10 Connecticut Sun: Alissa Pili, Utah, PF

Pili is one of best offensive prospects on the board: 21.4 points per game and knockdown 40.4 percent shooting from 3 from the center spot as a senior. But can she guard anyone? She’s likely not big enough for 5s (her listed height of 6-foot-2 is almost surely a fiction) and not quick enough for 4s. With perennial MVP candidate Alyssa Thomas, the Sun have experience with an unconventional, highly skilled, ambiguous-position player.

No. 11 New York Liberty: Nika Mühl, UConn, PG

UConn guard Nika Muhl attempting to steal the basketball from Iowa guard Caitlin Clark during a Final Four women's NCAA Tournament game
Nika Mühl guards Caitlin Clark during the Final Four game between Iowa and UConn.AP
The Liberty need a defensive bulldog in the perimeter rotation behind Courtney Vandersloot and Sabrina Ionescu. Mühl can submit tape of her shift against Clark in the national semifinals (or against Watkins in the Elite Eight) as Exhibit A for drafting her. Plus, Mühl has talked about how she received season-changing advice from Liberty superstar and fellow UConn product Breanna Stewart. There are dots to connect.

No. 12 Atlanta Dream: Dyaisha Fair, Syracuse, PG

With the spotlight on Clark, Fair quietly moved up this season to No. 3 on the all-time Division I women’s scoring chart with 3,403 points (albeit in five years). The Dream could use some backcourt scoring. Other names to watch in the late first round: Elizabeth Kitley, Marquesha Davis, Jessika Carter.