South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso’s NCAA MVP showing may have altered WNBA draft projections

Just four days before the WNBA draft, only one projection remains certain: Iowa’s Caitlin Clark will go No. 1 to the Indiana Fever, joining former South Carolina women’s basketball star and 2023 No. 1 pick Aliyah Boston.

But predictions for pick Nos. 2 through 4 are fluid. Even before the South Carolina women’s basketball team won the 2024 national title, Kamilla Cardoso was likely a draft lottery pick. However, her performance in the tournament could change the order of previous projections.

“Especially considering how she performed over the last month of the season, she was dominant,” ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo said Thursday afternoon during a Zoom call. “A lot of people have been talking about her ability to run the floor as a 6-foot-7 post player, her relentlessness in doing it every single possession.”

Given the lottery teams’ circumstances and needs, Lobo said she believes Stanford’s Cameron Brink will go No. 2, but would not be surprised if Cardoso slides into that spot. She complimented Cardoso’s rim protection, her passing when double-teamed and her demand for the ball inside the paint.

“Part of that is you have to put the pieces into the Jenga game, into the puzzle and however that plays out . . . I do think Brink will go second, but I would not be shocked if there is some of that kind of stuff in play,” Lobo said.

Both the Los Angeles Sparks (who own picks No. 2 and 4) and Chicago Sky (pick No. 3) are in a rebuilding era, which means you can’t expect success right away with wins, she said.

“With Cardoso, any of those teams, she will have the opportunity to show what she can do,” Lobo said.

The WNBA draft, which is being held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York, will begin at 7:30 p.m. ET on April 15. ESPN will be broadcasting, starting with a pre-draft show at 7 p.m. ET.

Possibilities for LA Sparks and Chicago Sky

The Sparks have the No. 2 and No. 4 pick in the draft, so if things go as projections show, they potentially could take both Brink and Cardoso. The Sparks have former South Carolina point guard Zia Cooke, who was drafted in 2023.

The Chicago Sky originally were expected to take Tennessee guard Rickea Jackson third, but Cardoso could move up.

“Anyone that ends up with a true 5 with room to grow, is putting themselves in a good position for the future,” Jeff Pagliocca, the Chicago Sky’s general manager, said of Cardoso.

Indiana Fever on South Carolina: ‘The best of the best come from that program’

South Carolina players are no strangers to the WNBA, so naturally coach Dawn Staley’s products are frequently seen on draft night. On Thursday, Staley was praised for her program, which has won three national titles since the 2016-17 season.

“You are getting a highly skilled student-athlete,” Indiana Fever general manager Lin Dunn said of drafting Staley’s players. “They come from a highly disciplined program . . . you are getting something special when you are getting a South Carolina player.”

Lulu Kesin covers South Carolina athletics for The Greenville News and the USA TODAY Network. Email her at [email protected] and follow her on X, formerly known as Twitter, @Lulukesin

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