Mitchell Northam (@primetimeMitch)
Rebecca Lobo has been around the highest levels of women’s basketball for a long time. As a college player, she was the Naismith Player of the Year and led UConn to its first national championship in 1995. A year later, she featured on the U.S. Olympic team that won the gold medal in Atlanta. She then spent seven years playing in the WNBA before becoming a broadcaster with ESPN, calling a wide variety of college and WNBA games.
Earlier this week, the 2017 Basketball Hall of Fame inductee had some advice for the folks who are going to be covering the 2023 WNBA Draft on Monday in New York.
“Maddy Siegrist is a top 5 pick in this draft and she's a young woman who people are really, really excited about,” Lobo said. “We haven't been asked about her specifically, but be ready to write about her on draft night on Monday.”
Siegrist, the Big East’s all-time leading scorer, is one of 15 college prospects who have been invited to attend the draft in-person on Monday. Those who watch the league closely – from reporters to broadcasters to coaches and front office personnel working in it – expect Siegrist to be selected early in the night.
Villanova's Maddy Siegrist is projected to get selected in the Top 5 of the WNBA Draft on Monday night. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
The 6-foot-2 forward who grew up in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., won’t be the first-ever player from Villanova selected in the draft. That honor belongs to Trish Juhline, who was drafted by the Washington Mystics in the third round in 2003. But Siegrist will likely be the highest draft pick in program history.
ESPN, The Athletic and Sports Illustrated each have Siegrist being picked third overall by the Dallas Wings.
And the man who will have a big say in who the Wings select with that pick – club president and CEO Greg Bibb – raved about Siegrist during a teleconference with reporters this week.
“She's obviously one of the best college players in the country this season. Certainly, she's a proven offensive threat. I think she's a little underestimated in terms of her defensive ability and her overall athleticism,” Bibb said. “I think she is flat-out one of the best players in the draft, but I also think she has a skill set that translates well for a number of teams in the WNBA, including us.”
Siegrist should be able to help whatever team she goes to, whether it’s Dallas at No. 3, or the Washington Mystics at No. 4, or some other team later on.
At Villanova, Siegrist piled up 2,896 points in college, earned two AP All-American nods, two Big East Player of the Year awards, and a plethora of other accolades. She can score inside and out, and knows how to draw fouls and get to the free throw line, but what could be key for her in maintaining success and a long career in the WNBA is her 3-point shot.
It improved as her career went on at Villanova – she shot 32.5% from behind the arc as a freshman to 36.1% this past season. Siegrist made 210 shots from deep in 119 games at Villanova, an average of 1.8 per game.
Her shooting touch and form is part of what made Siegrist such a lethal scorer in college, where she led the nation in points per game this past season with 29.2 while guiding the Wildcats to a Sweet 16 appearance. Siegrist has a high release point and a smoother than silk shooting form.
“It must be nice that every time your feet are squared and your eyes are on the bucket, you know it's going in,” ESPN analyst LaChina Robinson said of Siegrist. “She's automatic, and also gives you some size.”
Robinson added that Siegrist “can just flat out shoot the ball” and is “WNBA ready.”
Siegrist’s passing skills and offensive instincts should translate to the WNBA too. She only averaged 1.6 assists per game for her career, but according to HerHoopStats, she and Elena Delle Donne are the only two players since 2009 (with at least 25 games played) to have a usage rate of at least 35% and have a turnover rate of less than 8% in a single season. Simply put, Siegrist knows how to take care of the ball.
The last team to see Siegrist’s skills up close was Miami. Despite Villanova losing to the Hurricanes in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament in Greenville, South Carolina, Siegrist piled up 31 points in her final collegiate game.
“Maddy is everything she's been advertised as,” Miami coach Katie Meier said. “And we really pride ourselves on our defense, and the only thing I can kind of brag about is it took 29 shots for her to get 31 points… I have so much respect for her.”
Admiration for Siegrist can grow this summer as she begins her professional career in the most prestigious women’s basketball league in the world.
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