2022 WNBA Draft: How the draft works, No. 1 pick predictions, and more

WNBA Draft 2022
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Ahead of tonight’s 2022 WNBA Draft, here are answers to a few frequently asked questions about how the draft works, WNBA eligibility, which players have declared, which WNBA team has first pick, and more.

What time is the WNBA Draft?

The 2022 WNBA Draft will be held tonight, Monday, April 11, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. ET (TV channel: ESPN). For the first time since 2019, the WNBA Draft will be held in-person at Spring Studios in New York.

2022 WNBA DRAFT: Live updates, highlights, round-by-round picks

How does the WNBA Draft work?

The WNBA draft consists of three rounds with 12 picks in each round. A total of 36 athletes will be drafted, though unfortunately, many of them won’t ultimately play in the WNBA.

What are the chances of a draft pick playing in the WNBA?

It hurts to answer this question. The reality is that many WNBA draftees won’t ultimately play in a WNBA game. That’s because there are just 144 roster spots available in the WNBA (12 teams x 12 players per roster), and some of those will go unfilled due to the league’s salary cap.

READ MORE: The odds of WNBA draftees playing in the league

Who is eligible for the WNBA Draft?

In order to be eligible to play in the WNBA, an athlete must:

  • Turn 22 years old in the year of the draft OR
  • Have graduated or be set to graduate from a four-year university within three months of the draft OR
  • Have attended a four-year college and had her original class already graduate or be set to graduate within three months of the draft

International athletes who don’t play college basketball in the U.S. are eligible so long as they turn 20 years old in the year of the draft.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: In college basketball, men can be ‘one-and-done.’ Why not the women?

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA in 2021 granted all winter athletes an additional year of college eligibility. As a result, college players were required to opt-in if they had additional eligibility remaining and wanted to be considered for the 2022 WNBA Draft.

A full list of the 108 NCAA athletes who have opted in to the 2022 WNBA Draft can be found below.

Who is predicted to be the No. 1 pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft?

Most mock drafts predict that Kentucky’s Rhyne Howard will be the No. 1 pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft. Baylor’s NaLyssa Smith and Ole Miss’ Shakira Austin are also expected to be drafted in the first three.

MORE ON RHYNE HOWARD: ‘Once-in-a-lifetime player’ Rhyne Howard headlines prospects at 2022 WNBA Draft

Which WNBA prospects will attend the 2022 WNBA Draft?

The WNBA on Wednesday announced the list of 12 prospects who will attend the 2022 WNBA Draft:

  • Shakira Austin – Ole Miss
  • Kierstan Bell – Florida Gulf Coast
  • Rae Burrell – Tennessee
  • Veronica Burton – Northwestern
  • Nia Clouden – Michigan State
  • Elissa Cunane – NC State
  • Emily Engstler – Louisville
  • Destanni Henderson – South Carolina
  • Naz Hillmon – Michigan
  • Rhyne Howard – Kentucky
  • Nyara Sabally – Oregon
  • NaLyssa Smith – Baylor

MORE FROM ON HER TURF: ‘Once-in-a-lifetime player’ Rhyne Howard headlines prospects at 2022 WNBA Draft

Which team has the first pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft?

The Washington Mystics won the 2022 WNBA draft lottery, but last Wednesday, it was announced that the Mystics had traded the number one overall draft pick to the Atlanta Dream. In exchange, the Mystics received the No 3. overall pick, No. 14 overall pick, plus rights to swap 2023 draft picks.

On Her Turf

“We are very comfortable with all three players that we have ranked as the possible top three picks in the draft,” Mystics head coach Mike Thibault said. “We didn’t have any other picks in this draft and now we have #14 to try to find another good young player that can be a part of our future.”

Also ahead of Monday’s draft, the Las Vegas Aces and Minnesota Lynx made a trade that gives Las Vegas the eighth and 13th overall picks in this year’s WNBA draft. In exchange, the Lynx will receive 2023 draft picks from the Aces.

Here’s the updated list of first-round picks for the 2022 WNBA Draft:

  1. Atlanta Dream (from Washington Mystics)
  2. Indiana Fever
  3. Washington Mystics (from Atlanta Dream)
  4. Indiana Fever (from Los Angeles via Dallas)
  5. New York Liberty
  6. Indiana Fever (from Dallas)
  7. Dallas Wings (from Chicago via Dallas and Indiana)
  8. Las Vegas Aces (from Minnesota via Phoenix, New York and Seattle)
  9. Los Angeles Sparks (from Seattle)
  10. Indiana Fever (from Minnesota)
  11. Las Vegas Aces
  12. Connecticut Sun

Here is a list of the NCAA athletes who have opted in to the 2022 WNBA Draft (updated on April 6, 2022):

The WNBA on Wednesday announced the full list of 108 NCAA athletes who have opted in for the 2022 WNBA Draft.

There are more than 108 athletes who are eligible for selection in this year’s WNBA draft; the following list just includes NCAA players who have opted-in (including those who needed to renounce any remaining eligibility). Seniors who exhausted all of their NCAA eligibility were not required to declare for the WNBA draft, though some of them did anyway.

This updated list includes athletes who were still competing or had just finished competing in the 2022 NCAA women’s basketball tournament when the WNBA published its initial list last week.

Headlining the new additions are four athletes who competed in the 2022 NCAA women’s basketball championship last week: South Carolina’s Destanni Henderson and UConn’s Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Evina Westbrook, and Christyn Williams.

New additions are identified in bold.

  • Faustine Aifuwa – C – LSU
  • Joanne Allen-Taylor – G – Texas
  • Amy Atwell – G – Hawaii
  • Shakira Austin – C – Ole Miss
  • Ty Battle – F – Delaware
  • Kierstan Bell – G – Florida Gulf Coast
  • Arbrie Benson – G – Ball State
  • Katie Benzan – G – Maryland
  • Michelle Berry – G-F – TCU
  • Chloe Bibby – F – Maryland
  • Jazzmaine “Jazz” Bond – F – North Florida
  • Araion Bradshaw – G – Dayton
  • Osh Brown – F – Rutgers
  • Rae Burrell – G-F – Tennessee
  • Veronica Burton – G – Northwestern
  • Brice Calip – G – Missouri State
  • Nicole Cardaño-Hillary – G – Indiana
  • Jailin Cherry – G – LSU
  • Natalie Chou – G – UCLA
  • Deja Church – G – DePaul
  • Nia Clouden – G – Michigan State
  • Jennifer Coleman – G – Navy
  • Lorela Cubaj – F – Georgia Tech (Italy)
  • Elissa Cunane – C – NC State
  • Alana Davis – F – Memphis
  • Mia Davis – F – Temple
  • Jordyn Dawson – F – Akron
  • Jasmine Dickey – G – Delaware
  • Renetha “Shug” Dickson – G – Rutgers
  • Maya Dodson – F – Notre Dame
  • Alexus Dye – F – Tennessee
  • Queen Egbo – C – Baylor
  • Jayden Eggleston – F-G – CSU Bakersfield
  • Emily Engstler – F – Louisville
  • Amaya Finklea – C – Duke
  • N’Dea Flye – G – Rocky Mountain
  • Krystal Freeman – F – Tulane
  • Jenna Giacone – G – Dayton
  • Miela Goodchild – G – Duke
  • Alexis “Lexi” Gordon – G-F – Duke
  • Vivian Gray – G – Texas Tech
  • Aleksa Gulbe – F – Indiana
  • Chelsie Hall – G – Louisville
  • Sara Hamson – C – BYU
  • Paisley Harding – G – BYU
  • Lauren Heard – G – TCU
  • Lexi Held – G – DePaul
  • Destanni Henderson – G – South Carolina
  • Naz Hillmon – F – Michigan
  • Mya Hollingshed – F – Colorado
  • CeCe Hooks – G – Ohio
  • Qadashah Hoppie – G – Texas A&M
  • Chantel Horvat – G – UCLA
  • Rhyne Howard – G – Kentucky
  • Gadiva Hubbard – G – Minnesota
  • Lexie Hull – G – Stanford
  • Aahliyah Jackson – G – TCU
  • Erica “Rosy” Johnson – G – Ohio
  • Kayla Jones – F – NC State
  • Masseny Kaba – F – UCF
  • Lotta-Maj Lahtinen – G – Georgia Tech (Finland)
  • Chloe Lamb – G – South Dakota
  • Jordan Lewis – G – Baylor
  • Kiara Lewis – G – Clemson
  • Kelsey Marshall – G – Miami
  • LaShonda Monk – G – Ole Miss
  • Christina Morra – F – Wake Forest
  • Que Morrison – G – Georgia
  • Nancy Mulkey – C – Washington
  • Bethy Mununga – F – South Florida
  • Olivia Nelson-Ododa – F – Connecticut
  • Ali Patberg – G – Indiana
  • Jaelynn Penn – G – UCLA
  • Raina Perez – G – NC State
  • Destiny Pitts – G-F – Texas A&M
  • Khayla Pointer – G – LSU
  • Amber Ramirez – G – Arkansas
  • Taya Robinson – G – VCU
  • Dor Saar – G – Middle Tennessee
  • Nyara Sabally – C – Oregon
  • Courtajia “Tay” Sanders – G – UCF
  • Chanin Scott – G-F – North Carolina A&T
  • Aisha Sheppard – G – Virginia Tech
  • Hannah Sjerven – C – South Dakota
  • Akila Smith – F – Longwood
  • Alisia Smith – F – Michigan State
  • Kianna Smith – G – Louisville
  • NaLyssa Smith – F – Baylor
  • Tra’Dayja Smith – G – Longwood
  • Jenna Staiti – C – Georgia
  • Iimar’i Thomas – F – UCLA
  • Sam Thomas – G – Arizona
  • Taylah Thomas – F – Texas Tech
  • Lianna Tillman – G – Sacramento State
  • Amandine Toi – G – Virginia
  • Moon Ursin – G – Tulane
  • Lauren Van Kleunen – F` – Marquette
  • Cierra Walker – G – Gonzaga
  • Kayla Wells – G – Texas A&M
  • Evina Westbrook – G – Connecticut
  • Erin Whalen – G-F – Dayton
  • Sydne Wiggins – G – SMU
  • Christyn Williams – G – Connecticut
  • Jade Williams – F – Duke
  • Macee Williams – F – IUPUI
  • Ameshya Williams-Holiday – F – Jackson State
  • Anna Wilson – G – Stanford
  • Deja Winters – G – Minnesota

Since the WNBA published its initial 88-athlete list, two athletes also removed their names from consideration (Anastasia Hayes of Mississippi State and Brie Perpignan of Elon).

ALSO FROM ON HER TURF: ‘Just chill’ Naomi Girma could make USWNT debut vs. Uzbekistan

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Crystal Dunn returns to USWNT roster five months after giving birth

Nigeria v USWNT
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Crystal Dunn was named to the USWNT roster for two upcoming friendlies against England and Spain, marking her first official selection since giving birth to son Marcel in May.

Dunn made her NWSL return with the Portland Thorns earlier this month and also trained with the U.S. team as a non-rostered player ahead of friendlies vs. Nigeria.

In addition to Dunn, the 24-player roster features a veteran core of Alyssa Naeher, Becky Sauerbrunn, Rose Lavelle, Lindsey Horan, Mallory Pugh, and Megan Rapinoe.

Alex Morgan was not named to the USWNT roster due to a knee injury. While U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski did not provide details of the injury, he noted that “if this was a World Cup final, Alex was going to be on this trip and was going to play, no question.”

Other roster highlights include 17-year-old Alyssa Thompson, who becomes the first player born in 2004 to receive a USWNT call-up. Thomas, a high senior, plays club soccer for the U-17 Total Futbol Academy boys’ team.

“We are very excited for her, very excited about her potential and qualities and looking forward to seeing how she will turn out in our environment,” Andonovski said of Thompson. “This camp is not make it or break it. It’s a first experience for her, it’s just something that she shouldn’t even worry about.”

The USWNT also includes a handful of players who have made their USWNT breakthrough this season — thanks in part to both strong NWSL play and injuries to more veteran players. That list includes the likes of Naomi Girma (7 caps), Taylor Kornieck (5 caps), Hailie Mace (5 caps), Sam Coffey (1 cap), and Savannah DeMelo (0 caps).

Andonovski on Thursday called Coffey, a midfielder for the Portland Thorns, a candidate for NWSL MVP.

USWNT Roster for October 2022 Friendlies vs. England and Spain

Goalkeepers (3):

  • Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit)
  • Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage)
  • Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)


  • Alana Cook (OL Reign)
  • Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC)
  • Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC)
  • Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC)
  • Sofia Huerta (OL Reign)
  • Hailie Mace (Kansas City Current)
  • Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC)

Midfielders (8):

  • Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC)
  • Savannah DeMelo (Racing Louisville FC)
  • Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon, FRA)
  • Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC)
  • Rose Lavelle (OL Reign)
  • Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC)
  • Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit)
  • Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)

Forwards (6):

  • Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit)
  • Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars)
  • Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign)
  • Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit)
  • Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC)
  • Alyssa Thompson (Total Futbol Academy)

Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC

Justine Wong-Orantes’ atypical path to becoming one of the best liberos in the world

Justine Wong-Orantes hits the ball in the women's semi-final volleyball match between USA and Serbia during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
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It’s been 20 years since the same nation held both the Olympic and world volleyball titles at the same time, but libero Justine Wong-Orantes is looking to help lead Team USA accomplish that very feat at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championships in the Netherlands and Poland. Competition began on Friday and the U.S. is currently 2-0 after group play wins against Kazakhstan and Canada.

“We’re trying to win, for sure,” Wong-Orantes told On Her Turf. “I think, especially with the new turn of the program and the new year of the quad, we just have a really nice blend of veterans and also newcomers on the team.”

The 14-woman roster for Team USA, which is ranked No. 1 in the world and won its first Olympic title last summer, features six players from that gold-medal-winning team. And while Wong-Orantes is among the 2021 U.S. Olympic team veterans, she’s still a relative newcomer to international play.

The Southern California native enjoyed a notable junior career – she was 12 when she became the youngest female to ever earn an AAA rating in beach volleyball – and was a standout collegian at Nebraska, where she was a member of the 2015 NCAA championship team. But Wong-Orantes followed a different path upon graduation, initially choosing not to go overseas to play professionally.

While she was first selected for the U.S. national team in 2016 and played a handful of international tournaments in the following years, it wasn’t until she started playing professionally in Germany in 2019 that she saw the potential to elevate her position on the roster. In particular, the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics gave her an additional year of overseas experience, which she calls “a blessing in disguise.”

“I just felt like I was still in that developmental stage,” she said. “And a whole year postponement allowed me to go overseas and really get all the touches, all the repetitions, and just kind of expose myself to international volleyball another year. So I was, in hindsight, pretty thankful for that COVID season because I got an extra year under my belt, and I think that just gave me a ton of confidence.”

Ahead of the Olympics, Wong-Orantes earned “best libero” honors at the 2021 FIVB Volleyball National League in Rimini, Italy, which helped secure her spot on the Olympic roster. In Tokyo, she followed up with another standout performance and was named best libero of the Olympic tournament.

As to how the Wong-Orantes transformed into one of the world’s top liberos, she points to her background as a beach volleyball player. She began competing at age 8, and her first partner was Sara Hughes, a star on the AVP Pro Tour who also won two NCAA titles with USC.

“I think having that background and just the court awareness that beach volleyball forces you to have allowed me to really have a good read on the game,” said Wong-Orantes. “I think that’s what makes a great libero is just reading and always being reactive towards the ball.”

Wong-Orantes also credits the assistance of mental coach Sue Enquist, a former UCLA softball coach and U.S. national team coach, who now helps teams work on their culture and relationships. Enquist began working with the U.S. volleyball team during the pandemic and has continued in her role ever since.

“We just worked on a lot of stuff within ourselves, within our program, how to communicate with each other off the court, and I think that honestly propelled us into such a high, high level with how we worked with each other, and then that transferred onto the court,” explained Wong-Orantes, who noted the team has Enquist on speed dial while at the World Championship. “I really commend Sue. I just really give a lot of praise to her because I think our culture was never bad, but I think [she] just transformed into a different level.”

2022-09-26 - FIVB Volleyball Womens World Championship 2022 - Day 4
ARNHEM, NETHERLANDS – Justine Wong-Orantes (far right) poses for a photo with her U.S. teammates after defeating Canada at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship on September 26, 2022. (Photo by Rene Nijhuis/Orange Pictures/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

Wong-Orantes said she and her U.S. teammates are on their toes for the world championships, which features twice as many teams (24) as the Olympics and a “more grueling” format.

“It’s going to be a long tournament, and I think we’re really going to need all 14 of us that are here. I’m pretty certain that, at any given moment, someone’s going to be called on and someone’s going to need to step up in big moments.”