The WNBA draft on Thursday didn't turn out as expected for projected first-round picks Arella Guirantes of Rutgers and Dana Evans of Louisville. But both guards said Friday they hoped their drop to the second round would motivate them.
"I think they poked the bear," Guirantes said of the teams that passed on her, which actually included the Sparks with their two first-round picks. "I'm excited. I've never ran away from a challenge. I think it just adds more to the story. So whoever has the pen, just keep writing."
The 5-foot-11 Guirantes said she has felt underrated since high school. She played her first season at Texas Tech, then transferred to Rutgers. She averaged 21.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.2 assists as a senior for the 14-5 Scarlet Knights, scoring 30 in their NCAA tournament first-round loss to BYU.
"I didn't need the politics. I never needed the recognition," Guirantes said. "So why would that change now? It's gotten me where I've been so far."
The 5-6 Evans was a two-time ACC Player of the Year for Louisville. She averaged 20.1 points and 3.9 assists as a senior for the 26-4 Cardinals, who lost in the NCAA Elite Eight to eventual champion Stanford. Evans said that in her pre-draft conversations with teams she never got the sense that she would fall out of the first round.
"If you know me, you know I'll use this as motivation," said Evans, who added that she would like to wear No. 13 in the WNBA as a reminder of her draft slot. "It caught me off guard, but I think that was just another way to keep me wanting to get better, to keep me hungry, to keep me ready to just attack every obstacle that's thrown to me. And be willing to do whatever I've gotta do to make that roster with the Dallas Wings."
Because there are 12 teams with a maximum of 12 roster spots, it's not certain that even all first-round picks will make it into the league this season.
But one thing should be a boost for Guirantes, Evans and other potential first-round picks who went later, such as Oklahoma State's Natasha Mack (No. 16 by Chicago), Stanford's Kiana Williams (No. 18 by Seattle) and Baylor's DiJonai Carrington (No. 20 by Connecticut): Last year's WNBA Rookie of the Year, Minnesota guard Crystal Dangerfield, was a second-round pick at No. 16.