Big surprises abound in the 2022 WNBA Draft

Yahoo Sports WNBA writer Cassandra Negley recaps all three rounds of excitement from the 2022 WNBA Draft.

Video Transcript


CASSANDRA NEGLEY: The WNBA welcomed 36 new players to its ranks on Monday night for the 2022 WNBA draft. The first was Rhyne Howard out of Kentucky. Atlanta Dream picked her number one after making a trade for that spot last week. Now the first round went off script, if you had followed mock drafts up until this point. And it started with the Indiana Fever, which is unsurprising if you have seen the last few drafts.

The Fever selected Stanford's Lexie Hull at number six overall. Colorado's Mya Hollingshed went number eight overall to the Aces. And then the Fever came back and took Baylor's queen Egbo at number 10 to join number two overall pick Nalyssa Smith, also of Baylor. Those players were not expected to go as high as they did, but we will see how they fare in the 2022 WNBA season.

Now that meant that some big names fell. None more so than Destanni Henderson, the star of that national championship game for South Carolina. She dropped to number 20 to the Indiana Fever. A crowd at the Indiana Fieldhouse was excited for the pick. And it's important to remember that the number does not matter. It matters what team picks you if they have room for you and what kind of fit it will be for you as a player. Now Destanni could very well make this roster. And we could see her succeed in a program that is very much rebuilding after some rough years.

Now there were more surprise picks. And they showcased a big night for mid-majors and one HBCU. Kierstan Bell won the Becky Hammon Award winner for Best Mid-Major Player awarded by her hoop stats the past two years. And she is heading to play for none other than Becky Hammon, the Las Vegas Aces' head coach.

Hawaii's Amy Atwell and Hannah Sjerven of South Dakota were drafted in the third round-- as was Jasmine Dickey, a star scorer at Delaware; Jazz Bond of North Florida; and Macee Williams of IUPUI. Ameshya Williams-Holiday made the biggest news that was not shown, if you were watching the ESPN broadcast. She is only the sixth HBCU player to be drafted to the WNBA. And she is the first in 19 years. The 6'4'' forward center is headed to the Fever after averaging 15.9 points per game.

If you've heard Fever a lot, there's a reason for that. The Fever are rebuilding. And they might have won the draft by the sheer number of picks that they had. NaLyssa Smith, Emily Engstler, Lexie Hull, and Queen Egbo were their first rounders. That's two Baylor stars. They added Indiana hero Ali Patberg late in the rounds.

The biggest question, though, is how many of these players will make rosters when training camps open on April 17. There is not a lot of room available. 0.8% of women's college basketball players make it to the WNBA. That is lower than any other league because there are just not a lot of roster spots.

And earlier on Monday, Cathy Engelbert spoke about expansion being down the road and expanding rosters probably not being in the future. So a lot of these picks will have the special moment from Monday, but they won't be on WNBA rosters come May when the season tips off on the 6th. For more from the WNBA season, stay with "Yahoo Sports."