At the beginning of this season, there was almost no way anyone would have considered Gonzaga Bulldogs pointg guard Courtney Vandersloot a lottery pick.
But after an outstanding tournament performance and enough accolades for two or three people, it seems as though she could go as high as third to the Chicago Sky and as low as sixth to the San Antonio Silver Stars. Any lower than that would be mild surprise, but there are plenty of options as described in Swish Appeal's final first round mock draft.
And ultimately, the Sky's decision could send a small and perhaps anticipated ripple effect through the first round.
WNBA Draft 2011: Swish Appeal's Final First Round Mock Draft & Pivotal Picks - Swish Appeal
Who will the Chicago Sky pick at #3? We have learned that the Sky are leaning toward point guard Courtney Vandersloot, but could select Amber Harris, who former coach Steven Key was intrigued by last season (when Harris decided to stay in school). If they go with Vandersloot, things could turn out the way we have them here. If they go with Harris, Minnesota will have a few options and Vandersloot could fall to - but likely no lower than - the San Antonio Silver Stars.
At first glance, the Sky is a curious fit for a point guard: they have drafted point guards in the past two seasons after drafting 6'6" center Sylvia Fowles in 2008 and would have a rather crowded backcourt with players who can't really "play up" as a small forward. However, what Vandersloot offers is a true pass-first distributor that their current players simply aren't. That could mean a trade is imminent, but as of right now, each of those players offers something very different.
For a full breakdown of what Vandersloot offers with interviews from Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves and ESPN analyst Kara Lawson, check out Swish Appeal's draft capsule.
WNBA Draft 2011 Prospect Capsule: Courtney Vandersloot - "She’s mesmerizing." - Swish Appeal
Courtney Vandersloot proved herself to be, in the words of ESPN's Kara Lawson, "the best point guard in the country, and it's not even close." The numbers are only partially inflated by the high speed, run and run some more offense Gonzaga uses, but there is no denying that Courtney handles the ball exceedingly well. Her size and strength will be a factor, as even Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves admits that she was bigger and stronger at the start of the season than the end.
For more on the 2011 WNBA Draft in its entirety, check out Swish Appeal's WNBA Draft 2011 section complete with profiles of all of the top picks as well as some of the top prospects by position. Click here for a full mock draft and how Vandersloot's selection may impact other teams.