After speculation swirled that the 2020 WNBA draft might be delayed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the league announced Thursday that the show will go on next month, though it’ll look quite different than past years.
The WNBA will host a virtual draft without draftees, guests and media April 17. Commissioner Cathy Engelbert will announce the picks on ESPN and the top selections will do interviews remotely.
“The WNBA draft is a time to celebrate the exceptional athletes whose hard work and dreams are realized with their selections in the draft,” Engelbert said in a statement. “Safeguarding the health and well-being of our prospects, players, employees, and everyone connected to our game as well as the general public is paramount. With that in mind, we will work diligently with our broadcast partner, ESPN, to create a memorable but virtual event that appropriately honors these accomplished athletes.”
The WNBA also plans to honor Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, who died in a tragic helicopter crash Jan. 26 on their way to a basketball tournament. Kobe Bryant, an advocate for women’s basketball in recent years, will also be commemorated in various ways during the upcoming season.
Barring any trades, the Sky are slated to have three draft picks — a first rounder (eighth overall) and two in the third round (30 and 32 overall). The Sky traded their second-round pick to the Sparks before last season for Jantel Lavender, but picked up a third-round pick from the Lynx for Alaina Coates last season.
The next couple of weeks are crucial for the U.S. to contain COVID-19. With that in mind, the WNBA will continue to monitor the situation and conduct scenario planning for the upcoming season. As of now, the league is planning for training camp to open April 26 and for the season to start May 15, though the situation remains fluid.