February 14, 2018
It may not be the most well-known part of the CBA, but draft rules have become a larger focus in the WNBA in recent years when it comes to international players. With one of the more highly regarded international prospects in several years becoming eligible for selection in 2018, those who have not thought much about rules differences are considering them now. An initial bout of confusion came last season when the Lynx signed Cecilia Zandalasini, a free agent who somewhat surprisingly went undrafted in her year of eligibility in 2016. Since she had at one time considered playing in the NCAA, American WNBA fans were more familiar with her age than other prospects and some were unclear on how she could arrive in the WNBA when other players her age were still in school. The rules as they are currently constructed make for some tough choices for players with both WNBA aspirations and interest in collegiate play. One of the top prospects in the 2019 Draft has a difficult decision ahead of her as she will likely be a high pick next year, but will be barred from that draft and the 2020 Draft if she opts to attend college. Early entry has been a part of men’s college basketball discussions for years, but has not been a talking point on the women’s side.
Draft eligibility is covered on pages 105 and 106 of the current CBA. Subsection (b)(i) of Section 1 of Article XIII lays out they basic criteria of eligibility as “(b) A player is eligible to be selected in the WNBA Draft if she: (i) will be at least twenty-two (22) years old during the calendar year in which such Draft is held and she either has no remaining intercollegiate eligibility or renounces her remaining intercollegiate eligibility by written notice to the WNBA at least ten (10) days prior to such Draft;”. While that covers college players, Paragraph’s (d) and (e) provides rules for international players as “(d) Notwithstanding Section 1(b) above, an international player is eligible to be selected in the WNBA Draft if she will be at least 20 years old during the calendar year in which such Draft is held. (e) For purposes of this Section 1, an “international player” means any person born and residing outside the United States who participates in the game of basketball as an amateur or a professional. An international player who exercises intercollegiate basketball eligibility in the United States shall be subject to the eligibility rules set forth in Section 1(b)(iii) above.” That means that players are either classified as non-international or international players with the former not being allowed to play in the WNBA until their age 22 year and the latter being allowed as early as their age 20 year. [Read more…]