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The Future Faces of the NBA and WNBA

The NCAA has finished their regular season which means college basketball is over. Which players stand out as they begin to declare for the NBA/WNBA Draft?

nba draft
Caitlin Clark gets selected first overall Credit: ESPN/Youtube

With the NBA playoffs close by, a lot of NBA fans have their eyes on the next team that becomes world champions. I have my eyes set on the next generation and who among them can one day be superstars of their respective leagues.

The NBA Draft takes place in June and many college players have already begun to declare for it. Some players’ declarations aren’t a guarantee that they will be suiting up for an NBA team in October later this year. For example, Bronny James, Lebron’s son, declared for the NBA draft while simultaneously entering the NCAA transfer portal after his freshmen year with the USC Trojans.

This means that Bronny can participate in NBA scout workouts and gauge his draft stock interest before making his final decision. It’s quite common for college players to declare for the NBA draft while maintaining eligibility to continue their collegiate career.

The majority of players who declare are those who intend to play for an NBA team, and most of them are juniors or seniors. This is generally considered one of the weaker draft classes for the NBA in quite some time.

That doesn’t mean that there won’t be players who will be successful, but it doesn’t feel like there is a consensus number 1 guy like we saw last year with Victor Wembanyama. With that being said, I am sure plenty of players will live out their NBA dreams and shine through the NBA draft.

For the WNBA side of things, their draft has already occurred, and I’ll be taking a look at notable who have already been drafted.

The Next Icon of the League?

Caitlin Clark being interviewed after the draft
An interview with Caitlin Clark after the draft
Credit: Youtube/WRTV Indianapolis

Caitlin Clark may be the best, if not one of the best, college basketball players in NCAA/NCAAW history. Her 4 years spent with the Iowa Battlehawks were historic. Although, it didn’t lead to any championship wins despite two appearances.

Part of that history is her walking away from college basketball holding the scoring record for NCAA basketball. NBA legend Pete Maravich held this record previously for 50 years. No one can match Clark’s ability to make shots, and she is an offensive weapon all on her own.

So, it’s no surprise that the Indiana Fever selected her with the first overall pick of the 2024 WNBA draft.

Last year Clark averaged 31 points and almost 9 assists a game. The biggest scorer last year for the Fever was Kelsey Mitchell with 18 points and 3 assists. I’m sure the competition will be fiercer in the WNBA. Still, I think Clark will make the transition over smoothly.

The Fever are in desperate need of a player who can take over a game with high volume scoring. I can’t think of a better player to fill that role than Caitlin Clark.

Having a player like Clark on your roster provides more perks than just in-game talent. Within minutes of them selecting her first overall, all of her jersey sizes were sold out. She’ll bring a lot of buzz to Indiana with her electrifying playstyle, which will mean a bigger audience turnout.

This will make the Fever a desirable team for free agents moving forward. Also, Clark is finalizing an 8 figure deal with Nike to collaborate on her own brand of shoes.

The only championship the Indiana Fever won happened back in 2012. If Clark can lead this team back to success, she may soon become the face of the WNBA. She already brought in a lot of attention to women’s college basketball during her time there. I believe she will do the same for the WNBA, pushing it towards new heights.

“Bayou Barbie” Finds a New Home

Moving onto the next player I want to discuss, LSU’s Angel Reese was drafted 7th overall by the Chicago Sky. Reese and the LSU Tigers won the NCAAW championship last year. They were looking to repeat before losing to Iowa in the Elite Eight. In her final year with LSU, Reese averaged 18 points and almost 2 assists a game with 12 rebounds.

Angel Reese before tye nba draft
Angel Reese practicing her free throw before shooting it
Credit: YouTube/Provision Hoops

During that last game, Reese put up 17 points and 20 rebounds. She left college basketball with a bang, putting up a season-high number of rebounds.

The Chicago Sky went into the draft with one thing on their mind: defense. Reese was actually the second player the Sky drafted, as with the third pick they drafted Kamila Cardoso. The center for the South Carolina Gamecocks helped her team win the NCAAW championship this past season, putting up 15 points and 17 rebounds.

Both Reese and Cardoso are players who will block shots and stay in the paint to get the rebound for their team. They’re extremely competitive, so much so that oftentimes they would get chippy during their matches together.

@fanduel

Angel Reese + Kamilla Cardoso = STAR-STUDDED LINEUP 🔥 @Chicago Sky #angelreese #kamillacardoso #wnbadraft

♬ original sound – FanDuel
Credit: TikTok/@FanDuel

One thing is for sure, the Sky is building something special if these two are going to be teammates together. These two players bolster their defense with size and the ability to block shots.

They both possess a drive to fight for rebounds which gives them more possessions with the basketball. With more possessions, that leads to more scoring opportunities for the Sky. They could be a team that looks to dominate in a couple of years.

Once enemies in college, now they can both help each other become superstars in the WNBA.

Duke Superstar Declares

A lot of college basketball players have declared for the NBA draft. Among them is a name some might be surprised to see: Jared McCain.

Jared McCain was a five-star recruit coming out of high school before he committed to Duke and the Blue Devils. He only spent one year with Duke before he declared for the NBA draft. He enters the league as only a 20-year-old and will surely be highly touted by NBA teams for his scoring potential. Duke was successful all year long before they lost to NC State in the Elite Eight.

That wasn’t on McCain, though, as he put up 32 points and 6 rebounds. Many people know McCain for his scoring ability, but he can also help facilitate on the basketball floor. He can set up passes or even draw double-teams from opposing players, leaving his teammates open. He can also be useful as a spark-plug off the bench, providing quick offense when needed.

McCain is one of the bigger names ahead of the NBA draft due to his social media presence. He has amassed over 2 million followers on TikTok and has 134.5 million likes on his page. He brings a new wave of fans to whichever team drafts him, which can increase audience engagement.

Credit: TikTok/@jaredmccain24

I believe McCain could benefit from being a backup during his first year in the league. He would be able to adjust to the pace of NBA basketball. Potentially, he could also learn some tips from veteran guard players who have already played in the league.

Although his team lost and he doesn’t have much experience, Jared McCain has eyes on him due to his potential as a scorer. He could be a great second option for a team or even progress to that first scoring option. Whatever team ends up drafting him, also gets a lot of new attention from his fanbase.

He’s already entering the league with a huge following. If he is able to progress as a player and continue his barrage of offense, it’s possible he’s a player to watch for in the coming years.

For more information on the March Madness tournament that discusses more NBA prospects, click here.

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