One player from the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team has entered her name into this year’s draft: Tiana Mangakahia. In three seasons with Syracuse, Mangakahia averaged 15.3 points, 8.7 assists, 4.1 rebounds per contest in 85 games. She led the nation in assists and assists per game in two of the three years she played and set multiple program and conference records in those categories.
Two former ‘Cuse players are currently on WNBA rosters: Brittney Sykes (‘17, Los Angeles Sparks) and Kayla Alexander (‘13, Minnesota Lynx). Sykes is entering her fifth season in the league, while Alexander will be competing in her ninth.
There are three rounds of the draft with 12 picks in each round (36 total). Mangakahia is projected to be the No. 27 overall selection to the Atlanta Dream (3rd round, 3rd pick), according to ESPN’s latest mock draft. Sykes was the highest draft pick in program history at No. 7 overall in 2017 (Atlanta).
Due to the pandemic and the Olympic break, the 2021 regular season will have 32 games, four fewer games than the originally planned 36 contests. The season will be on a break from July 15 through Aug. 11 for players competing at the 2021 Olympics.
Five ‘Cuse players have been drafted to the league, including Sykes, Alexander, Beth Record (‘01), Brianna Butler (‘16), and Alexis Peterson (‘17).
The WNBA is divided into two conferences, six teams in the Eastern Conference (Atlanta Dream, Chicago Sky, Connecticut Sun, Indiana Fever, New York Liberty, Washington Mystics) and six teams in the Western Conference (Dallas Wings, Las Vegas Aces, Los Angeles Sparks, Minnesota Lynx, Phoenix Mercury, Seattle Storm)
Seven additional Orange players have participated in a WNBA training camp, including Leigh Aziz (‘03), Julie McBride (‘06), Fantasia Goodwin (‘08), Vaida Sipaviciute (‘08), Juanita Ward (‘10), Iasia Hemingway (‘12), and Briana Day (‘17).
When the WNBA was launched in 1997, the league had eight teams: Charlotte Sting, Cleveland Rockers, Houston Comets, New York Liberty, Los Angeles Sparks, Phoenix Mercury, Sacramento Monarchs, and Utah Starzz. The 2021 season will mark the league’s 25th season.
You can support the WNBA and Orange in the Pros by purchasing tickets, subscribing to League Pass (just $16.99 for the season!), and simply following the league this summer. The draft will air live on 7 p.m. EST ESPN.