Ogwumike may be the One for the Sun

Chiney Ogwumike of Stanford celebrates after making a basket against UConn in the NCAA tournament semifinal on April 6.
Chiney Ogwumike of Stanford celebrates after making a basket against UConn in the NCAA tournament semifinal on April 6.

The Connecticut Sun will draft Stanford post Chiney Ogwumike with the first overall pick in tonight's WNBA Draft.

"Chiney or (Baylor guard) Odyssey (Sims)," Connecticut head coach Anne Donovan deadpanned. "That narrows it down, doesn't it?"

One can't fault Donovan for being noncommital, but odds are that the Sun will select Ogwumike tonight based on need.

The draft is at Mohegan Sun Arena (8 p.m., ESPN2).

Connecticut also picks 11th (overall), which it acquired in a trade that involved sending Sandrine Gruda to the Los Angeles Sparks. It also picks 25th overall (third round).

The Sun (10-24) had the league's second-worst rebounding differential (-3.77), a number made all the more damning because center Tina Charles was the league's second-best rebounder (10.1). Reserve Mistie Bass signed with Phoenix last month. Kelsey Griffin is the only other proven post, but she averaged just five a game last season.

Connecticut has a glut at guard with Alex Bentley, Katie Douglas, Kelly Faris, Kalana Greene, Allison Hightower, and Renee Montgomery all under contract.

"The post was where we were weakest last year," Donovan said.

Ogwumike would greatly help that issue. The 6-foot-4 forward averaged 26.1 points and 12.1 rebounds this past season, was a consensus All-American and the Wooden Award winner. She also has a personality that earns raves from everyone she meets.

"I think Odyssey is going to be a tremendous pro," ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo said. "I just think that they need a starting four, and I think Chiney is a starting four. Since they lost Asjha (Jones), there's been a hole at that spot, and while Kelsey and Mistie did a great job, both are good power forwards off the bench.

"Chiney has the potential to be a star. She's a phenomenal rebounder and a very good defender. She scores by getting offensive rebounds. I think she completely fits what they need."

Connecticut still needs to resign Charles, who's a restricted free agent. Training camps open in 13 days.

"Other free agents have not signed their contracts yet, " Donovan said. "That's not unusual."

Donovan said there's "a line" after the draft's top four players — Notre Dame guard Kayla McBride, Maryland forward Alyssa Thomas, Ogwumike and Sims. She believes there are "13-to-14" players who could make a roster.

UConn's Stefanie Dolson (center) and Bria Hartley (guard) are both expected to be drafted in the first round. Dolson would be a good fit for Indiana (fifth and ninth), Seattle (seventh) and San Antonio.

Knee injuries to Notre Dame post Natalie Achonwa and Duke point Chelsea Gray add further intrigue. Both were sure-fire first-round picks before being hurt. Gray dislocated her right kneecap in February. Achonwa tore the ACL in her left knee on March 31.

All the unpredictabilty makes it tough to know who'll be available for the Sun at No. 11.

"There's always rumors of trades going around," Lobo said. "and I've heard a rumor with Connecticut making a trade.

"Eleven is interesting. I'm sure they'd love it if Hartley is available, but I don't see that happening. I could see them going with Chelsea Gray, frankly, if she were there. I'm not sure exactly what type of player they'll get. There will still be a lot of good players available. If (Louisville guard) Shoni Schimmel were still available, you'd get another scorer in the backcourt. They have enough needs where they need to go best-player available, but still have the flexibilty where they could draft someone like Chelsea Gray, who they could wait on."



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