History was made on Monday night. For the first time in the history of the WNBA, no players from Texas universities were drafted.
Though, that's not entirely true. Alexis Morris, who spent time at Baylor and Texas A&M, was taken. Should the fact she ended her career at LSU—where she won a championship this season—mean that the state loses its streak? I don't know—that's a pretty philosophical question, isn't it?
But while there weren't any Texas college graduates in the draft, there were players with Texas connections. There's Morris, who I mentioned above and who went to Beaumont Legacy Christian. And there's Madi Williams, a Fort Worth Trinity Valley grad who played her college ball just up I-35 at OU. Williams was drafted 18th overall by the Seattle Storm, and Morris went 22nd to the Connecticut Sun.
Let's talk about the theoretical fit with their new clubs.
Madi Williams and the Seattle Storm
It's really hard for second-round picks to get playing time in the WNBA. For example, of the 24 players taken after the first round last year, only Naz Hillmon, Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Destanni Henderson and Evina Westbrook played 20 or more games while averaging double-digit minutes per game. It's a tough world out there for WNBA rookies.
But Fort Worth's Madi Williams landed in just about the best spot she could have. The Storm went through a lot of changes this offseason, and if there's a team where multiple rookies—Williams plus first-round pick Jordan Horston—can make an impact, it might be in Seattle. With Breanna Stewart gone, the team needs scoring outside of Jewell Loyd, and Williams might end up providing some spark off the bench.
Williams spent her career at OU as the centerpiece of the offense. After averaging 11.6 points per game as a freshman, she averaged 15 or more per game in each of her four subsequent seasons. She was especially good as a mid-range scorer, shooting 48.6 percent from there, which ranks in the 92nd percentile per CBB Analytics.
The 5-foot-10 wing is a little undersized for the W, but she makes up for that by being able to make plays with the ball in her hands. She'll need to cut down the turnovers, which I think she will simply because the style of play will change so much. At OU, Williams was part of a team that ranked third in pace this season and was second the year before. The Storm, meanwhile, were seventh in the WNBA in pace last year. Can Williams thrive on a more methodical team? Or was her ability to push the break key to her success with the Sooners?
That, I think, is the big question. If she can adapt quickly, Williams could have a role as a bench scorer for this Storm team. If she can't, she'll likely spent a lot of time at the end of the bench. But I do ultimately see her making the final roster, because with Stewart and Sue Bird gone, this team needs an influx of young talent, and this team has more roster spots than most of the league.
Alexis Morris and the Connecticut Sun
Morris—whose play on both ends of the floor was vital in getting LSU its first national title earlier this month—was taken with the 10th pick of the second round. Like Williams, she faces an uphill battle because second-round picks always face an uphill battle, but Morris should have a shot at making this team.
(For more about Morris helping LSU to the title, check out Ishmael Johnson's piece on the former Beaumont Legacy Christian star.)
The problem is we don't really know what this team is. Head coach Curt Miller is in Los Angeles now, as is guard Jasmine Thomas. Jonquel Jones is in New York. The Sun brought in some talented role players though, plus added Tiffany Hayes, leaving this roster in a strange shape.
When it comes to the backcourt, the team has Tyasha Harris and Natisha Hiedeman, plus Hayes can bring the ball up as well. Morris isn't going to have a shot to start, but her ability to make big shots and make plays as a point-of-attack defender gives her a shot to earn some minutes for this squad, especially considering the Sun didn't have a first-round pick, making Morris their top rookie.
I think the big concern for Morris is that she started college in 2017, but she only had two "good" seasons, both of which came at LSU the last two years. It took awhile for Morris to get to the point where she was as good as she's been the past two seasons. She's also just 5-foot-6, so those size concerns are worrisome. Can she be as aggressive defensively in the WNBA?
She's probably not going to get a lot of minutes early in her career, but Morris is tenacious, so don't be shocked if she's able to siphon off Ty Harris and Nia Clouden minutes by the end of the 2023 season.