California center Kristine Anigwe (31) celebrates a basket against North Carolina during a first-round game in the NCAA women’s college basketball tournament in Waco, Texas, Saturday March 23, 2019. | Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

WNBA Draft preview: 4 candidates for the Chicago Sky’s first-round pick

SHARE WNBA Draft preview: 4 candidates for the Chicago Sky’s first-round pick
SHARE WNBA Draft preview: 4 candidates for the Chicago Sky’s first-round pick

The 2019 WNBA Draft is considered one of the most stacked in recent years with plenty of potential future stars in the mix. And the No. 1 pick appears to be there for the taking since Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu announced her plans to return for her senior season.

With so much available talent, general manager and coach James Wade believes the Chicago Sky are in a good spot with the fourth pick in the first round of Wednesday’s draft, which will be held at Nike’s headquarters in New York.

The Sky will follow the Las Vegas Aces, who hold the No. 1 pick, and the New York Liberty and Indiana Fever, who have the Nos. 2 and 3 picks, respectively.

Aces general manager Bill Laimbeer has made it clear that he’s willing to trade the No. 1 pick for a good deal. Though the Sky has discussed the possibility of trading up, Wade said it’s unlikely, given the depth of this class.

“If we can’t get our No. 1 pick, our No. 2 will probably still be out there,” Wade said. “We’ll probably get one of our top two choices.”

Fans can watch the first round starting at 6 p.m. on ESPN2, and the second and third rounds on ESPN U.

Wade is looking for an all-around player who will complement his current roster.

Here are four possible players who would do that other than Louisville guard Asia Durr and Mississippi State center Teaira McCowan, who are expected to be selected before the Sky are on the board:

Kristine Anigwe

The Sky is fairly high on Cal center Kristine Anigwe.

“I don’t know if there’s anybody that sees her as high as we do,” Wade said.

The Sky allowed a league-high 90.1 points per game and could use a player like Anigwe, who was named the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year after she averaged 16.2 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and one steal this season.

Anigwe’s draft stock drastically rose during March Madness, when she scored 31 points and pulled down 27 rebounds in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

After Cal suffered a devastating 39-point loss in the second round to Baylor, Anigwe finished her college career as the all-time leader in points, rebounds and blocks at Cal. In her senior season, the four-time All-American averaged 22 points and had a double-double in 32 of 33 games.

Jackie Young

Wade likes a player who can play multiple positions, and that’s exactly what Notre Dame star Jackie Young does.

At 6 feet tall, Young is an athletic and efficient shooter who could add major star power to the Sky’s lineup.

Young has been one of the best shooters in college basketball the last two seasons and has only gotten better as she has matured. This season, she averaged 14.7 points, 7.4 rebounds and 4.9 assists in 39 games. She shot 52.8 percent from the field and 45.2 percent from three-point range.

Young declared for the draft as a junior Monday after the Fighting Irish lost in the championship game to Baylor on Sunday.

Though Young might be an ideal candidate for the Sky, there’s a good chance she won’t be available by the time it’s their turn. She has been projected to be selected as high as No. 1 since Ionescu opted to stay in college.

Napheesa Collier

Connecticut star Napheesa Collier might be one of the best all-around players in this year’s draft, which makes her especially intriguing for a team such as the Sky.

Over the last four seasons, Collier’s confidence has grown, and she has blossomed into an elite two-way player.

This season, the 6-2 forward carried the Huskies on offense and defense. She averaged 20.8 points on 61.2 percent shooting and a team-high 10.8 rebounds in 38 games. She also had an impressive 25 double-doubles.

Collier finished her college career winning the Katrina McClain Award, which recognizes the top college power forward in the NCAA.

Coach Geno Auriemma believes Collier will make a smooth transition to the WNBA as long as she’s put in the right situation.

“If she’s on the right team where they don’t have center that’s clogging up the lane, then I think she’s gonna be great,” Auriemma told reporters during the NCAA Tournament.

Kalani Brown

Another player on the Sky’s radar is 6-7 center Kalani Brown. Wade said he was especially impressed with how she played in the NCAA Tournament and helped Baylor win the title over Notre Dame.

Coming off a championship win, Brown could help the Sky implement a winning culture they so desperately need.

Though Wade is optimistic that Sky center Stefanie Dolson will rebound after a down season in 2018, Brown could be a great pick for the Sky to add much-needed depth to the five spot.

This season, Brown, a two-time All-Big 12 First Team and All-Defensive Team honoree, averaged a team-high 15.8 points, while shooting 61.7 percent from the field. She also averaged 8.2 rebounds in 37 games for Baylor.

Brown was a finalist for the National Defensive Player of the Year award, though she ultimately lost to Aniqwe.

Basketball is in Brown’s bloodlines. Her father, P.J., played 15 NBA seasons and won an NBA title with the Celtics in 2008.

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