When Maryland women’s basketball steps on the floor in Columbia, South Carolina, to take on the No. 6 Gamecocks on Sunday, this year’s contest will look a lot different than last year’s in College Park. Gone are the five 2023 WNBA first round draft picks selected from the two programs last year, including Maryland’s Diamond Miller and Abby Meyers.
This season, the Terps are less likely to have a player rise to that level, but could see multiple players picked in the back end of the draft.
The Diamondback interviewed Mark Schindler, a WNBA writer, to discuss what a Maryland trio of eligible wings in Brinae Alexander, Lavender Briggs and Jakia Brown-Turner could improve on to put themselves in a draftable position. Schindler also examined the future draft prospects of junior Shyanne Sellers, who is ineligible for the upcoming WNBA draft.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Q: Who is the best prospect on Maryland’s roster?
A: I mean it’s Shyanne, easily. Even last year as soon as she started … I was already pretty in on who she could be as a pro eventually … She was kind of the de-facto point guard, especially once they were playing in the half court. She can really shoot it, she’s one hell of a defender.
When I just look at that, top to bottom, it’s really hard to find a weakness in her game.
This year is going to be really big in seeing what her “ceiling” is, and what she can do at the next level, becauseI think it’s very clear and easy for me to pinpoint that I think she can be a very good rotation player at the next level. I think if she’s able to continue taking the steps as a player with the ball in her hands more and more this year, she keeps growing as a shooter and getting more up, I think sky’s the limit for her. To me, I think she has the makings of being a lottery pick, potentially.
Q: What’s one aspect of Sellers’ game that you think scouts are looking for her to improve on?
A: I think getting a three up in more volume is going to be big this year. Because to me, the volume almost matters more than how well she’s shooting it.
How does she work on exploiting some of the way’s she’s being guarded? Because she’s going to get guarded 94 feet, especially without having Diamond there, teams are going to load up on her.
Q: Out of Maryland’s three veteran wings (Brinae Alexander, Lavender Briggs and Jakia Brown-Turner), which player has the highest ceiling?
A: For all three of them, so much has been defined by how much they’ve had to change their games throughout their careers, and especially now this year, Brinae and Lav are both stepping back into the starting lineup. Same thing with Jakia coming over from NC State now, I don’t know if I could necessarily put a pin on it, it’s gonna depend on how the season goes. I think all three are very real, deeper prospects for sure.
I think I’ll maybe give the edge to Brinae a little bit [as a prospect] because she’s an awesome shooter. I think that’s something you have baked in right now. I like her defense … I’m already confident saying she’s a player who could have a really good career overseas.
Lav is interesting because she’s probably the best athlete out of the three, and to me that definitely sticks out. She’s the best defender. A lot of it’s going to be people seeing how consistent her shot is … We’ve seen Lavender be able to put the ball on the deck, but I think it’s more about finding ways to finish through contact.
With Jakia, my biggest thing is just seeing how she adapts to whatever this role is going to be with Maryland … I liked a lot of her stuff at NC State … but a lot with her is going to be how consistent does the shot become? Because she’s probably got the shot I have the most questions about of the three.
Q: How do players balance individual improvement versus fitting in the offense?
A: Part of the reason I like Maryland so much is this is a team that builds to prepare players for the next level. I think that there are a handful of programs you can pinpoint and say that about, and Maryland is one of them.
[With] Brenda [Frese], you are playing to win, but you are also there to get better and become the best player you can possibly be. And she recruits players not just based off, you know, like she’s not there to necessarily, to build a system, like there are things that she really likes to do. But I think when you look up and down, how teams change and adapt every year, like she’s going to play for her players. She’s not there to have people in a box and I think that’s to the betterment of the team.
In my opinion, I think this is going to be more so like, yeah, there might be some growing pains with players figuring out some of that stuff and getting more comfortable. But I also think that’s part of just the development process and the team as a whole.
Q: What young players are you looking at on Maryland’s roster?
A: I’m excited for this young group, because like you mentioned, I think we went from seeing a group that [was] veteran heavy. Now you get to see in this year, there’s going to be a lot more of, “Hey, we need a lot of young players to contribute.”
I think part of what’s exciting about this year is that group of players, that back half of the roster could have such a big impact on things this season just by virtue of how they grow and develop.
Q: How many Terps do you think get drafted in the 2024 WNBA draft?
A: I’d say they will probably get at least one player drafted in the coming draft, I don’t know where. I mean this with respect, I think the first round is going to be hard to crack for anybody on the roster. If Shy was [eligible] this year, I would definitely see her going in the first round.