Connecticut Sun head coach Curt Miller swears he has nothing against having first round draft picks. In fact, the sixth-year Sun boss would love to have one in Thursday’s WNBA draft beginning on Thursday at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
But for the second year in a row, the Sun won’t have a first round pick and barring a trade, they won’t select until the latter part of round 2 with the No. 20 and No. 21 picks in the draft. But Miller’s not complaining or experiencing any sleepless nights.
This year’s first round pick was part of the package used to acquire perennial All-Star DeWanna Bonner last spring. Bonner helped the Sun reach the WNBA semifinals last September, falling one win shy of a berth in the WNBA finals.
“We were ecstatic to be able to acquire DeWanna in that trade,” Miller said. “When you have the opportunity to acquire a proven champion, a decorated veteran in this league that is still considered one of the top 15 players in the world, we would do it again tomorrow.”
Connecticut has also shown the ability to acquire players drafted in the second round that make positive contributions to the team.
The Sun selected Kaila Charles of Maryland in the second round a year ago and in 2019, Connecticut ended up with Natisha Heideman, originally a second round pick of the Minnesota Lynx. Heideman played some crucial minutes in the 2019 WNBA finals for the Sun and solid minutes off the bench in last year’s pandemic-condensed season.
Thanks to Jonquel Jones opting to sit out the 2020 campaign, Connecticut was in position to grab Beatrice Mompremier, the 6-foot-4 forward from Miami, and second round pick of the Los Angeles Sparks, who was waived before the season began.
“We were very fortunate last year, on our mock draft boards we had both Kaila (Charles) and Beatrice (Mompremier) as top 10 picks in the draft,” Miller said. “We were shocked that Kaila dropped to us in the second round and we knew that when L.A. drafted Beatrice they had a very tough decision ahead of them on who could make their opening day roster.”
Both Charles and Mompremier enjoyed solid rookie bubble seasons and have continued to raise eyebrows with strong seasons overseas.
Charles, a 6-foot-1 forward, averaged 5.4 points and 2.6 rebounds in 21 games for the Sun last summer. In Israel’s top league, she averaged 17.8 points and 10.8 rebounds a game in 16 games for Petah Tikva.
Mompremier made an immediate impact on the Sun’s rebounding efforts in 2020, scoring 2.3 points and pulling down 3.3 rebounds per game — first among players off the bench for the Sun and fourth overall on the team. In Europe, she played for Uni Gyor in Hungary’s top league, scoring 16.8 points and grabbing 11.4 rebounds in 24 games.
Hiedeman, who has been an integral component to the Sun’s offense off the bench, averaged a career-high 6.1 points per game, tied her career-high in assists averaging 1.9 per game and grabbed a career-high 1.9 rebounds per game. The Sun picked up Hiedeman in a draft-day trade with the Lynx before she was released before the 2019 season began. After a short stint with Atlanta, the Sun signed Hiedeman as free agent in July 2019.
With Heideman, the Sun have three young rotation players who can learn and grow for years to come.
For months Miller’s staff has been prepping for Thursday’s big day – building out and massaging their draft board. They binge-watch college and international games. The trio are in constant communication with collegiate coaches and on phone and Zoom calls with draft prospects – leaving no stones unturned when looking for players that will mesh well in the Sun system.
“We look forward to bringing two more personalities that fit,” Miller said. “We’re looking for two more humble players that will scratch and claw for the role they want and be a champion in the role they earn on this talented team.”
Information from Kip Held of the Connecticut Sun is included in this report.
Recent Connecticut Sun draft picks in the WNBA draft
2nd round (23rd pick overall): Kalia Charles
3rd round (35): Juicy Landrum
1st Round (9th pick overall): Kristine Anigwe
2nd Round (21): Bridget Carleton
2nd Round (33): Regan Magarity
1st Round (9th pick overall): Lexie Brown
3rd Round (33): Mikayla Cowling
1st Round (8th pick overall): Brionna Jones
2nd Round (13): Shayla Cooper
2nd Round (16): Leticia Romero
3rd Round (28): Jessica January
1st Round (3rd pick overall): Morgan Tuck
1st Round (4): Rachel Banham
1st Round (6): Jonquel Jones
2nd Round (17): Jamie Weisner
3rd Round (27): Aliyyah Handford
1st Round (4th pick overall): Elizabeth Williams
2nd Round (19): Brittany Hrynko (traded to Atlanta)
1st Round (1st pick overall): Chiney Ogwumike
1st Round (11): Chelsea Gray
3rd Round (25): DeNesha Stallworth
1st Round (11th pick overall): Kelly Faris
2nd Round (23): Anna Prims
3rd Round (33): Andrea Smith
1st Round (9th pick overall): Astan Dabo
2nd Round (21): Chay Shegog
2nd Round (16th pick overall): Sydney Colson
3rd Round (28): Adrienne Johnson