Sabrina Ionescu is certain to be the No 1 pick in the WNBA Draft, says Los Angeles Sparks star Candace Parker.
Speaking on NBA Gametime, Parker was asked what makes Oregon Ducks star Ionescu the consensus top selection.
"The biggest thing is her ability to play with great players and still distribute the ball," Parker said. "She has been surrounded by great players at Oregon. A lot of people will look at her points per game and say 'if you are a dominant player you need to score more'. Well, we saw with Ja Morant on the NBA side that assists matter. He came into the league and showed he can score, but he was also willing to sacrifice for the team and do what is best.
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"That's the thing. Sabrina Ionescu makes plays when she has to and makes the correct play. That is what makes her so special and why she will be the No 1 pick in the WNBA for sure.
"The way she changes speeds and her ability to continue to put pressure on the defense and get people involved - she can come at you from different angles."
Parker's fellow Gametime panellist Greg Anthony praised Ionescu's game, saying she possesses "a special gift" that can't be taught.
"She has had as storied a career in college as any male or female player," he said. "The numbers are astounding and, in the evolution of her game, she is almost changing the way the game is played. She has got an incredible amount of physicality, feel and skill and I am excited to see what her professional career is going to entail.
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"I used to say she is Jason Kidd with a jump shot but she is more like a Russell Westbrook in some regards in that she can really put pressure on in the paint and she is incredible in the pick-and-roll. That is what she does better than anybody else at that level. She is also a three-level scorer.
"When you can be a great player and not dominate the ball, even though it is your job to have the ball, it allows for more rhythm in the game and allows everybody else to feel they have more involvement in the game. She has got a special gift I don't think you can teach and I think it will translate to the professional level."
A panel of WNBA coaches and general managers agreed with Parker and Anthony's assessment of Ionescu as the No 1 pick.
In conjunction with the Associated Press, the panel mock-drafted the 12 first-round picks and selected Ionescu as No 1. The coaches weren't allowed to select players for their own team. The panel expects Ionescu and her Oregon team-mate Satou Sabally to be taken with the top two picks, marking the third time that players from the same team will go first and second in the draft.
Associated Press WNBA mock draft first round
No 1 - New York Liberty select Sabrina Ionescu (Oregon)
The Liberty need a point guard and no one has been better in her college career than Ionescu the past four seasons. The NCAA record holder in triple-doubles will be a great fit in New York.
No 2 - Dallas Wings select Satou Sabally (Oregon)
The first of a star-studded trio of juniors to enter the draft this season. Sabally is pro-ready and will give Dallas a solid complement for Arike Ogunbowale.
No 3 - Indiana Fever select Lauren Cox (Baylor)
This pick will give the Fever a very strong frontcourt pairing of Cox and Teaira McCowan. Baylor's star can score, block shots and pass the basketball.
No 4 - Atlanta Dream select Chennedy Carter (Texas A&M)
A talented guard who can put points on the board in a hurry. Also has a knack for the big shot, giving coach Nicki Collen a potential late-game closer.
No 5 - Dallas Wings select Tyasha Harris (South Carolina)
Harris has averaged nearly five assists a game in her career at South Carolina and learned from one of the best point guards in women's basketball history in coach Dawn Staley.
No 6 - Minnesota Lynx select Megan Walker (UConn)
Cheryl Reeve had a lot of success picking a UConn player last season as Napheesa Collier ended up being the league's Rookie of the Year. Walker can provide consistent outside threat for the Lynx.
No 7 - Dallas Wings (from Seattle Storm via Connecticut Sun and Phoenix Mercury) select Ruthy Hebard (Oregon)
Hebard would give coach Brian Agler another solid frontcourt player who shoots extremely well from the field (68.5 per cent this season) and has incredibly good hands.
No 8 - Chicago Sky select Beatrice Mompremier (Miami)
She has great athleticism and potential, really holding her own at a USA Basketball camp in Miami against Lynx center Sylvia Fowles. She was sidelined for much of the season with a foot injury. She averaged 16.8 points and 9.8 rebounds.
No 9 - New York Liberty (from Las Vegas Aces via Dallas Wings) select Bella Alarie (Princeton)
The three-time Ivy League Player of the Year averaged 17.5 points and 8.6 rebounds for the Tigers, who only lost one game this season. She has a great basketball IQ and at 6ft 4in has guard skills and can stretch out a defense.
No 10 - Phoenix Mercury (from Los Angeles Sparks via Connecticut Sun) select Crystal Dangerfield (UConn)
A solid leader and point guard who could give some youth to that position for the Mercury.
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No 11 - Seattle Storm (from Connecticut Sun) select Mikiah Herbert-Harrington (South Carolina)
Herbert-Harrington was a steadying force for the young Gamecocks this season and she can shoot the deep ball.
No 12 - New York Liberty (from Washington Mystics) select Jocelyn Willoughby (Virginia)
Willoughby led the ACC in scoring last season averaging 19.2 points and can score from anywhere on the court. She shot 42 per cent from behind the arc.
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