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Meet the 12 first-round picks of the WNBA draft

Angel Reese poses with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert at the 2024 WNBA Draft.Angel Reese poses with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert at the 2024 WNBA draft.

Sarah Stier/Staff/Getty Images

  • The WNBA draft was held on Monday, April 15, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York.
  • Fans were allowed to attend the draft for the first time since 2016.
  • The Indiana Fever selected Caitlin Clark first overall.

More than 3,950 career points, $3.1 million in NIL valuation, and an average of 18.9 million 2024 NCAA Women’s Championship viewers.

These are just a few of the figures that signify the collegiate legacy of Caitlin Clark, one of the many names changing the narrative around women’s basketball and women’s sports as a whole.

On Monday, April 15, Clark sat among her peers at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York to celebrate the WNBA draft, in which 36 elite female college athletes were selected to make the transition from amateur to professional.

The event brought back fans for the first time since 2016, per ESPN, demonstrating the profound impact women’s college basketball has had on public opinion of the sport— and it shows no signs of waning.

The WNBA reported that the 2023 season was “its most-watched regular season in 21 years,” with combined viewership across networks “up 21 percent over the 2022 regular season.”

“Women’s basketball is finally starting to get the attention it deserves, but it wasn’t always like this and didn’t happen overnight,” Chicago Sky General Manager Jeff Pagliocca told Business Insider in an email.

“Our league has been around since the ’90s, with hundreds of best-in-class women’s athletes putting in the work, challenging mindsets and paving the way for where we are today. It’s taken a few decades, but we couldn’t be more proud to be part of this moment in history and keep the momentum going for all the young girls watching who share our passion for the game,” he added.

With big names like Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark joining the league, there’s no telling what new heights it’ll reach this season.

Get to know all 12 talented women from the first round of the draft as they prepare to continue changing the world of women’s basketball, one block, three-pointer, and rebound at a time.

With the final pick in the first round of the draft, the Atlanta Dream selected 19-year-old Nyadiew Puoch from Australia.Nyadiew Puoch poses with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert at the 2024 WNBA Draft.Nyadiew Puoch poses with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert at the 2024 WNBA draft.

Sarah Stier/Staff/Getty Images

Despite being just 19 years old, Puoch has played professionally for the last two years in the Women’s National Basketball League in Australia, winning the championship in March with the Southside Flyers.

Puoch was one of three Aussies selected in this year’s draft, demonstrating a growing international talent pool.

When talking with ESPN sports reporter Holly Rowe after the selection, Puoch said she’d talked to Australian basketball legend and former WNBA player Lauren Jackson.

“She’s obviously been through this and she’s great and back in Australia, one of the greatest, and yeah, she told me like, they’re gonna break me, you know, they’re gonna push me, they’re gonna come at me, you know, but you just gotta keep going … and just keep being relentless,” Puoch said to laughter in the crowd.

Marquesha Davis, 22, was selected by the New York Liberty as the No. 11 pick in the draft.Marquesha Davis, the eleventh pick in the WNBA Draft, poses with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.Marquesha Davis, the eleventh pick in the WNBA draft, poses with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.

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Davis, a 6-foot guard, grew up in McGehee, Arkansas, where the population is below 4,000.

“I’m very proud, you know, to come from a small town and to dream big, and you know, to actually make it,” Davis told Rowe after her selection. “It’s not always easy, so I would just say to those young girls that dream big but they’re from a small town: always believe and just keep going.”

After playing her first three seasons at the University of Arkansas, Davis transferred to Ole Miss: University of Mississippi for her final two seasons of eligibility.

This past season, in her final year at Ole Miss, Davis started in all 33 games and led the team in scoring with a career-best 14 points per game, per Ole Miss Sports. She was also named to the First Team All-SEC and was a finalist for the Gillom Trophy, which is given to the best women’s college basketball player in Mississippi.

The Connecticut Sun selected Leïla Lacan as the No. 10 pick.Leïla Lacan during the FIBA U19 Women's Basketball World Cup 2023.Leïla Lacan during the FIBA U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup 2023.

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NBC Sports Boston reported that the 19-year-old from France played in the French women’s basketball league, Ligue Féminine de Basketball (LFB).

Lacan is a point guard who averaged 13.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 2.9 steals during the 2023-2024 season with the Angers team, NBC reported.

She also was a key part of France’s performance in the 2023 FIBA U19 World Cup, where they took home the bronze medal.

2024 LFB Top Five pick Carla Leite was selected as the No. 9 pick by the Dallas Wings.Carla Leite of Tarbes Gespe Bigorre during the 16th Final of the French Women's Basketball Cup in 2023.Carla Leite of Tarbes Gespe Bigorre during the 16th Final of the French Women’s Basketball Cup in 2023.

Sylvain Dionisio ATPImages/Getty Images

Leite got the perfect birthday present this year, as she was selected as the ninth pick in the WNBA draft in the early hours of her 20th birthday.

Leite played for the LFB team Tarbes Gespe Bigorre, where she averaged 15.8 points per game, 2.5 rebounds per game, and 5.5 assists per game, according to the WNBA.

She was also named to the LFB Top Five, with her team announcing the news on Instagram.

No. 8 pick Alissa Pili said she’s “so blessed” to be a role model for Indigenous and Polynesian girls after being selected by the Minnesota Lynx.Alissa Pili poses with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert at the 2024 WNBA Draft, where she was selected eighth overall.Alissa Pili poses with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert at the 2024 WNBA draft, where she was selected eighth overall.

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The 6-foot-2 forward from Anchorage, Alaska, spent three seasons at the University of Southern California, where she was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, before transferring to the University of Utah.

During the 2022-2023 season, University of Utah Athletics reported that she was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year after leading the conference in scoring (643 points) and field goal percentage (59.0%).

The following year, Pili increased her scoring to 727 points and finished her collegiate career with a total of 2,165 points.

At the draft, Pili thanked her family and said, “Without them, I wouldn’t be standing up on that stage and I owe everything to them.”

Pili, who is of Native Alaskan and Samoan descent, also spoke with Rowe about the power of representation she brings to the league as an Indigenous and Polynesian woman.

“A lot of Indigenous and Polynesian girls don’t get to see that role model, and I’m just so blessed that I can be in the position to be that for them,” Pili said.

The Chicago Sky selected the “Bayou Barbie” Angel Reese for its second first-round pick.Angel Reese poses with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert at the 2024 WNBA Draft.Angel Reese poses with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert at the 2024 WNBA draft.

Sarah Stier/Staff/Getty Images

The 21-year-old from Baltimore has made a huge impact on women’s basketball in her last two seasons playing for LSU.

But while we all know her as the “Bayou Barbie,” Reese actually got her collegiate start at the University of Maryland, where she played for two seasons after being recruited as the No. 2 overall player in the 2020 class, LSU Sports reported.

Reese made the transition to LSU for the 2022-2023 season and soon became a household name, winning the 2023 NCAA National Championship, the 2023 ESPY for Best Breakthrough Athlete, the 2023 BET Sportswoman of the Year Award, and the 2023 Sporting News Athlete of the Year award, among other accolades. She continued to excel in her final season, where she was named the 2024 SEC Player of the Year.

“Angel is a relentless competitor who pursues the ball unlike anyone else in her class,” Chicago Sky GM Jeff Pagliocca told Business Insider in an email.

When asked about what she’s proud of and how she’s been able to help build basketball, Reese said she’s proud of how she’s been able to leave her impact and gave a shout-out to her mom and brother. “I wouldn’t be able to do it without them,” she said.

The Washington Mystics selected UConn forward Aaliyah Edwards as the No. 6 pick.Aaliyah Edwards poses with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert at the 2024 WNBA Draft.Aaliyah Edwards poses with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert at the 2024 WNBA draft.

Sarah Stier/Staff/Getty Images

Aaliyah Edwards joins a long list of UConn women’s basketball stars who have transitioned to the WNBA, including Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart, and Sue Bird.

With her signature purple and yellow braids (an homage to the LA Lakers and the late NBA legend Kobe Bryant), the 6-foot-3 22-year-old from Ontario, Canada, was the 2023 Big East Most Improved Player and the 2023 Big East Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, per UConn. Edwards was also named to the 2024 All-Big East First Team and was a 2024 AP All-America Honorable Mention.

After her draft selection, Edwards was visibly emotional and said she was grateful to help open the door for other young Canadian girls.

“Bring all the Canadians to Washington!” she said.

With the No. 5 pick in the WNBA draft, the Dallas Wings selected Jacy Sheldon from Ohio State University.Jacy Sheldon with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.Jacy Sheldon poses with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.

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The 5-foot-10 guard spent all five years of her collegiate career at Ohio State University, collecting numerous awards like the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award in 2020 and the coaches’ unanimous choice for the All-Big Ten First Team in 2022, per Ohio State.

At the draft, Sheldon shared a sweet moment with her younger sister, Emmy, who has Down syndrome.

“She’s been a huge impact on me and my family, and she has no idea. and it’s been cool to see, really the whole world, just to see how special she is and how much of an impact she makes,” Sheldon told Holly Rowe.

Tennessee’s Rickea Jackson was selected No. 4 overall by the Los Angeles Sparks.Rickea Jackson and WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.Rickea Jackson and WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.

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The 23-year-old small forward from Detroit started her collegiate career at Mississippi State, where she played for three seasons before transferring to the University of Tennessee.

She finished her career with 2,261 points and 773 rebounds, becoming the sixth all-time leading scorer in Lady Vol history, per the University of Tennessee.

“I feel like I’m just very versatile. I can play multiple positions; there’s still room to grow, and I’m willing to just be a sponge and continue to be a better player,” Jackson said at the draft.

“My family is the reason why I’m here. I do everything for them. You know, if it wasn’t for my brothers, I wouldn’t have even picked up a basketball and, you know, my mom just instilling greatness and knowledge and, you know, always keeping God number one, that just really just made me into the player who I am today,” she added.

The Chicago Sky selected 2024 NCAA women’s basketball champion Kamilla Cardoso as the No. 3 pick of the draft.Kamilla Cardoso with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.Kamilla Cardoso with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.

Sarah Stier/Staff/Getty Images

“Kamilla can run the court and is just scratching the surface of her potential,” said Pagliocca. “These first-round picks immediately give us one of the best young cores in the league, and we’re confident they’ll help propel our offense to new heights.”

Standing at 6-foot-7, the Brazilian center is a force to be reckoned with on the court, having just recently been named the 2024 NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

As a senior, Cardoso averaged a career-high 14.4 points per game, 9.7 rebounds, two assists, and 25.4 minutes, per ESPN. In the championship game, she had 15 points, 17 rebounds, and two assists.

“I had a goal to be here tonight and give my family a better life, so I’m just so thankful that I was able to be here,” she said at the draft.

The Los Angeles Sparks selected Cameron Brink as the No. 2 pick in the WNBA draft.Cameron Brink poses with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert after being selected second in the draft by the Los Angeles Sparks.Cameron Brink poses with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert after being selected second in the draft by the Los Angeles Sparks.

Sarah Stier/Staff/Getty Images

Cameron Brink knows basketball. The 6-foot-4 22-year-old out of Stanford University is the godsister of Stephen Curry — yes, the Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors — thanks to her parents’ long-standing friendship with the Curry family (they all attended Virginia Tech together).

But while she’s certainly gotten a few pointers from her family, Brink is a star in her own right. In her freshman year, Stanford won the national championship after an undefeated season. Brink has also been named a Pac-12 Player of the Year and is a recipient of the Lisa Leslie Award, which is presented to the best center in NCAA Division I women’s basketball, per Stanford University.

Some of her other achievements include the 2024 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award, the 2023 WBCA Defensive Player of the Year award, and being a four-time Pac-12 champion.

Brink held back tears after her selection, telling ESPN’s Holly Rowe, “I think I fall in love with the game even more just being here in New York with these girls. I feel like my passion is just reignited; and the college season’s hard, but I’m just so looking forward to a new challenge and ready to get to work.”

To no one’s surprise, “generational talent” Caitlin Clark was the first overall pick in the draft, selected by the Indiana Fever.Caitlin Clark poses with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert after being selected first in the WNBA Draft by the Indiana Fever.Caitlin Clark poses with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert after being selected first in the WNBA draft by the Indiana Fever.

Sarah Stier/Staff/Getty Images

Does she even need an introduction? The NCAA’s leading scorer met widespread expectations when she was selected as the first overall pick by the Indiana Fever.

Clark broke a multitude of records throughout her time at The University of Iowa, including the record for most points in a single season. She was the first Division-I player to record 3,800+ points, 1,000+ assists, and 950+ rebounds, and she also won the 2024 National Player of the Year honors from ESPN.com and the Athletic, per The University of Iowa.

“Like you said, like, I’ve dreamed of this moment since I was in second grade, and it’s taken a lot of hard work, lot of ups and downs, but more than anything just trying to soak it in,” Clark told Rowe after her selection.

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