The WNBA Draft
is an annual draft
held by the WNBA
through which WNBA teams can select new players from a talent pool of college and professional women's basketball players
. The first WNBA draft was held in 1997
The 1997 WNBA Draft was divided into three parts. The first part was the initial allocation of 16 players into individual teams. Players such as Cynthia Cooper
and Michelle Timms
were assigned to different teams. The second part was the WNBA Elite draft
, which was comprised of professional women's basketball players who had competed in other leagues. The last part would be the 4 rounds of the regular draft.
The next three seasons to follow 1998, 1999 and 2000 would all have expansion drafts. There would not be another expansion draft until the 2006 season.
All seasons before 2002 would carry 4 rounds. Starting with 2003, all drafts would carry 3 rounds.
In 2003 and 2004, there would be dispersal drafts due to the folding of the Cleveland Rockers, Miami Sol and Portland Fire. The players were reallocated to existing teams. There was another dispersal draft in 2007 with the folding of the Charlotte Sting.
There are no restrictions on what part of the world the players come from. However, college sports governing bodies, most notably the NCAA
, prohibit players from competing in professional leagues simultaneously with their college eligibility. Once the player has joined the WNBA, she is eligible to participate in overseas leagues during the WNBA offseason (many WNBA players play in Europe or Australia
). So far, no U.S.
high school player has ever been drafted.
Dena Head is the oldest #1 draft pick, having graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1992 and the first player ever drafted to the WNBA. Lauren Jackson is the youngest #1 draft pick, being drafted at the age of 19.
Past WNBA Drafts
Notable Draft Picks
- 1997 - Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes, and Tina Thompson would become the core pieces of the Houston Comets dynasty.
- 1999 - Taj McWilliams-Franklin is the lowest draft pick to become a WNBA All-Star in 3rd round, 32nd pick overall.
- 2002 - Four of the top six draft picks, Sue Bird (#1), Swin Cash (#2), Asjha Jones (#4) and Tamika (Williams) Raymond (#6) were from the same team, the 2002 NCAA Champion University of Connecticut.
- 2003 - Cheryl Ford (daughter of NBA great Karl Malone) helped the Detroit Shock win a WNBA Championship in her first season.
- 2004 - Lindsay Whalen picked #4 overall by Connecticut Sun - led the Sun to the WNBA finals two years in a row in her rookie and second year.
- 2005 - Kristin Haynie - Became the first person to play in the NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship game (with Michigan State) and the WNBA Finals (with the Sacramento Monarchs) in the same calendar year. She was on the losing side in the NCAA (to Baylor), but on the winning side in the WNBA.
- 2006 - Four of the top six draft picks would be named to the All-Star Game in their rookie season: Seimone Augustus, Cappie Pondexter, Sophia Young, and Candice Dupree.