On Wednesday evening, the Seattle Storm patiently waited for all the other WNBA teams to make their selections. Their patience was rewarded in both the first and second rounds of the WNBA Draft. With the 12th overall pick, the Seattle Storm selected 6’4″ Ezi Magbegor from Australia.
After the selection Hall of Famer Rebecca Lobo had this to say about the pick, “Ezi is a young player with great length at 6’4″, a terrific athlete, who can run the floor, she can finish inside. This is a player who a GM told me ‘Four years from now, if she had gone to college could be the top pick in the WNBA Draft.’ She has tremendous upside.”
Magbegor is just 19 years old and plays in the Australian WNBL. She was the 2018 WNBL Rookie of the Year. While still developing her game, she has shown great promise on both sides of the court. Magbegor averaged 8.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, while shooting over 55% from the field for the Melbourne Boomers this season.
Coach Dan Hughes was delighted with the selection, saying “I’m very impressed by Ezi’s body of work, especially considering her age. She has the athleticism and raw skill necessary to develop into a very strong player in this league.”
After the draft it was announced that Magbegor would not join the Storm in 2019, but instead join the team next year.
“Ezi is a young and talented player with a bright future in the WNBA,” said Storm CEO & General Manager Alisha Valavanis. “She will report in 2020 and fits into our long-term strategy for this roster.”
A month ago, I stated that if Magbegor were to fall to Seattle her potential would be too good to pass up. This is an excellent selection for the Storm’s long-term future. The Storm should be able to remain a contender for years to come with Canada, Loyd, Howard, Stewart, and now Magbegor.
In the second round of the draft, with the 24th overall pick, the Seattle Storm selected 5’11” Anriel Howard out of Mississippi State. Howard had been projected as a potential late first round to an early second round pick, so the Storm were fortunate she fell to them at the end of the second round.
Howard teamed up with Teaira McCowan (drafted 3rd overall) at Mississippi State and led them to the Elite 8 this season. Howard was the second leading scorer on her team averaging 16.4 points per game. She is an elite rebounder for her position averaging 8.4 rebounds per game. Howard was named to the First-Team All-SEC team.
“Anriel is possibly the best defender in the draft, an incredible rebounder, and showed offensive development in her career that we are confident will continue to grow at the professional level,” said Coach Hughes.
While most second round picks struggle to make a WNBA roster, Howard should have an excellent opportunity to stick with the Storm. One of Seattle’s few needs is a strong player to backup Alysha Clark at the Small Forward position. Howard’s ability to rebound and defend make her a natural fit in that role.
With Magbegor staying in Australia for the 2019 season, Howard will compete for the final roster spot.
In the final selection of the WNBA Draft the Storm selected Macy Miller out of South Dakota State. Miller is the two-time Summit League Player of the Year. She finished her career as the league’s all-time scorer with 2,355 points and led the Jackrabbits to a surprise NCAA March Madness run to the Sweet 16.
As a third round pick, Miller will have an uphill battle to make the roster but will be given the opportunity in training camp to do so.
Overall, it appears that the Storm had a very successful draft night. Magbegor has the raw potential to develop into a star post-player with her size and athleticism. Howard could end up finding minutes in her rookie season backing up Alysha Clark and help improve the Storm’s defense and rebounding ability next season. The champs have reloaded and they will be ready to defend their titles in 2019 and beyond.