WNBA draft means job opportunity for seniors
Published: Monday, April 11, 2011
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
On the second floor of the Sullivan Athletic Center, down the blue and red splashed hallway that heads to the women's basketball offices, six photos the size of movie posters hang on the wall. Each one is an in-game snapshot of a former student-athlete playing in the WNBA. To make it on the wall, they had to have played at least one year in the league.
But come back next year, and there's a chance more could be added. That's because the 2011 WNBA Draft takes place this Monday, April 11, starting at 2 p.m. central time. And with a number of seniors on the DePaul squad, there is a chance three players could hear their names called: Sam Quigley, Deirdre Naughton and Felicia Chester.
The three players traveled to Indianapolis with Bruno during the Final Four, and spent a day meeting with agents and getting interview experience, Bruno said.
"Fe, Sam and Deirdre all have professional futures," Bruno said. "There's a pretty strong consensus that both Sam and Fe should expect the possibility of being drafted in the 3rd round by the WNBA. That became pretty clear."
During the Sweet 16 the last weekend of March, Bruno said that he had just recently started getting calls about Chester. But last week, just a few days before the draft, he warned that expressing interest doesn't guarantee anything.
"The WNBA, because there's so much on television now, and because there's so few teams, they're just doing less calling now, they're just doing more of their own hw," Bruno said. "So you shouldn't interpret phone calls to coaches as an automatic, that a kid's gonna get drafted, or a lack of phone calls that the kids aren't gonna get drafted."
After a year coming back from injury, in which her statistics were not nearly as punchy as her first years at DePaul, Naughton will likely end up in Europe — at least to start.
"What she did in the last couple minutes against Duke is what she did all the time here…that's what we used to have every night, all night, not just for a couple minutes," Bruno said, referring to her 12 points in the final 4-plus minutes in the Sweet 16. "Then it's a matter of getting healthier and proving herself, and who knows, maybe she can fight her way back to a WNBA team through free agency in another year."
The meetings can be especially important for players such as Naughton, since agents are the ones who facilitate the signings based on how the player's skill and personality mesh with the team.
"It's really a matter of finding the right match in Europe, finding the right place where a team is gonna value what you do, find the right place with the right people," Bruno said. "That's where the agent selection comes in, because you want to have an agent that has proximity and contacts and knows how you're gonna be a proper match."
Women's basketball players can also make more money in Europe, but the WNBA offers the opportunity to plat at home in front of friends and family, while also providing health benefits. That is why many players join the WNBA for the summer, then play overseas the rest of the year.
"It's a more celebrated deal to be in the WNBA," Bruno said, "but if you're gonna be a women's basketball player making a professional living, it's in Europe is where you make it."
But just because a player gets drafted does not mean they will make the team. Of the six former Blue Demons that have played in the WNBA, only three were actually drafted. And of the six players to have been chosen in the WNBA draft, only three have actually gone on and played at least a year.
While Bruno said he loves to see his former players in the league, he warns them they have to get there first. And that's not easy.
"You've gotta make the team," Bruno said. "You go into camp, you have to be a junkyard dog. A training camp in pro sports, on that level, is 25 dogs fighting for one piece of meat."