November 10, 2017
The international flavor of the draft varies from year to year, but 2018 has been circled as a year to watch since the 1998-born international players emerged on the youth national team scene. With a number of them now emerging on the club level, there is plenty of time for fans to familiarize themselves with the players that could be late round picks for their team. Several players are in contention for going much earlier in the draft than typical international players. The main concern with some of these foreign players will be the likelihood of them ever showing up to their WNBA teams, but with the difficulties in finding late round collegiate gems, there will be players worth taking the risk for. Here are some of players who could hear their name called next year and some lesser known players who could be surprise picks (name, potential position, national team, club team with country listed if not the same as national team):
Maria Vadeeva, 6′ 3″ C, Russia, Dynamo Kursk
The spotlight has been shining on Maria Vadeeva for several years. Given a big club role early in her career and fast-tracked to the national team, there is no shortage of evidence of what she can do. A center with a dazzlingly full array of offensive weapons, Vadeeva’s lengthy experience playing with and against top players has given her the toughness that would allow her to transition more quickly should she choose to make the jump immediately. With the availability of international players on a year to year basis up in the air, it will be interesting to see which team might be willing to use a higher than expected pick on a well known player.
Raisa Musina, 6’4” PF, Russia, UMMC Ekaterinburg
While one top Russian prospect has been on the radar for a while, the other has taken a little longer to emerge, but has done so spectacularly. Raisa Musina’s breakout season came last year when she was given bigger responsibilities on the club level and was able to showcase her skill and physical development. A change in clubs over the summer has changed her role, but she has developed the ability to be a high level complementary player in addition to the creative abilities she has in the halfcourt. With no competitive games over the summer for Russia’s senior squad, a team trying to get her to arrive in her draft year could accelerate her play to the next level.
Park Ji-Su, 6’5” C, South Korea, KB Stars
Placed on the national team at an extremely young age, Park Ji-Su has taken turns in and out of the limelight. South Korea’s scholastic system for young players kept her out of the spotlight during the club season, leaving only glimpses of national team play available to try to discern her improvements. That changed last season when she turned 18 and joined the professional league, making an immediate impact. Projected first as a player with defensive potential, Park does have a feathery touch on her jumper and the building blocks for a more complete offensive game in the future. As a December-born player, she is about as young as any draft prospect out there and should a team try to bring her over at some point, her transition will need to be managed well as she is still working on being more assertive.