On Thursday, the 2017 WNBA Draft will commence at Samsung 837 in New York, starting at 7 p.m. ET. Fans can catch first round proceedings on ESPN2, then switch over to ESPNU for the second and third rounds that evening.
Syracuse Orange fans will have reason to watch, as three former players may hear their names called. Alexis Peterson, Briana Day and Brittney Sykes, all fresh off excellent four-years careers for SU, could all be chosen in the 36-player draft.
If you look at mock drafts, Peterson seems like a lock to go in the first round — with FanRag having her chosen eighth overall by the Connecticut Sun. There’d be some irony in Peterson heading to the Connecticut after the Huskies ended her last two seasons in the NCAA Tournament. But the Sun also need a point guard, which is something she’d be able to help with right away.
FanRag has Sykes going early in the second round, 14th overall to the New York Liberty. For the Newark, N.J. native, playing for the nearby Liberty would probably be a cool experience. She also fills a need as a three-and-D type player for a team looking to replace some skill on the perimeter.
Day is less of a sure thing, but if she’s chosen, it would likely be in the third round. Her height, rebounding and blocking abilities will all help her out, however, as the league continues to see more players attack the rim. She could go to any of the 12 teams, potentially, and contribute off the bench early.
The earlier each player is chosen, however, the more lucrative the WNBA dream becomes. As Syracuse.com’s Lindsay Kramer spelled out yesterday, base salaries for the earliest picks are nearly $52,000 per year (in year one). For picks five through eight, it starts around $47,000, and then for the rest of the first round, they’ll be closer to $43,000.
Second rounders start at about $41,000 annually, while third round selections are at $40,000 or so.
It may not be the millions the NBA is raking in, but with increased marketing potential for women’s athletes in the U.S., plus additional playing opportunities abroad, it’s a decent start. The average Newhouse grad makes less than $38,000 in their first year out of school.
Right now, just one former Syracuse player — Kayla Alexander — plays in the WNBA. In four years with the San Antonio Stars, she’s averaged four points and three rebounds per game. While Brianna Butler was drafted by the Los Angeles Sparks last year, she was cut before the season and eventually headed to Australia to continue her career.
The only other Syracuse women’s basketball player to be selected in the WNBA Draft was Beth Record, who went to the Los Angeles Sparks in the fourth round, back in 2001. She did not play in any games in the league, however.