The WNBA Draft is an annual draft held by the WNBA through which WNBA teams can select new players from a talent pool of college and professional women's basketball players. The first WNBA draft was held in 1997. The WNBA "requires players to be at least 22, to have completed their college eligibility, to have graduated from a four-year college or to be four years removed from high school."<ref>Template:Cite web</ref><ref>Analyzing the WNBA's Mandatory Age/Education Policy from a Legal, Cultural, and Ethical Perspective: Women, Men, and the Professional Sports Landscape See Note #100</ref><ref>Article XIII, Section 1 of the CBA; WNBA CBA</ref>
The 1997 WNBA Draft was divided into three parts. The first part was the initial allocation of 16 players into individual teams. Players such as Cynthia Cooper and Michelle Timms were assigned to different teams. The second part was the WNBA Elite draft, which was composed of professional women's basketball players who had competed in other leagues. The last part would be the 4 rounds of the regular draft.
In 2003 and 2004, there would be dispersal drafts due to the folding of the Cleveland Rockers, Miami Sol and Portland Fire. The players were reallocated to existing teams. There was another dispersal draft in 2007 with the folding of the Charlotte Sting.
There are no restrictions on what part of the world the players come from. However, college sports governing bodies, most notably the NCAA, prohibit players from competing in professional leagues simultaneously with their college eligibility. Once the player has joined the WNBA, she is eligible to participate in overseas leagues during the WNBA offseason (many WNBA players play in Europe or Australia).
Dena Head is the oldest #1 draft pick, having graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1992 and the first player ever drafted to the WNBA. Lauren Jackson is the youngest #1 draft pick, being drafted at the age of 19.
|1997 Elite||Dena Head||Template:USA||Tennessee||Utah Starzz|
|1997||Tina Thompson||Template:USA||USC||Houston Comets|
|1998||Margo Dydek||Template:POL||Wychowania Fizycznego (Poland)||Utah Starzz|
|1999||Chamique Holdsclaw1,2||Template:USA||Tennessee||Washington Mystics|
|2000||Ann Wauters||Template:BEL||Belgium||Cleveland Rockers|
|2001||Lauren Jackson3||Template:AUS||Canberra Capitals||Seattle Storm|
|2002||Sue Bird2||Template:USA||Connecticut||Seattle Storm|
|2003||LaToya Thomas||Template:USA||Mississippi State||Cleveland Rockers|
|2004||Diana Taurasi 1||Template:USA||Connecticut||Phoenix Mercury|
|2005||Janel McCarville||Template:USA||Minnesota||Charlotte Sting|
|2006||Seimone Augustus1,3||Template:USA||LSU||Minnesota Lynx|
|2007||Lindsey Harding||Template:USA||Duke||Phoenix Mercury (traded to Minn.)|
|2008||Candace Parker1,4||Template:USA||Tennessee||Los Angeles Sparks|
|2009||Angel McCoughtry1||Template:USA||Louisville||Atlanta Dream|
|2010||Tina Charles1,3||Template:USA||Connecticut||Connecticut Sun|
Past WNBA Drafts
Notable Draft Picks
- 1997 – Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes, and Tina Thompson would become the core pieces of the Houston Comets dynasty.
- 1999 – Taj McWilliams-Franklin is the lowest draft pick to become a WNBA All-Star in 3rd round, 32nd pick overall.
- 2002 – Four of the top six draft picks, Sue Bird (#1), Swin Cash (#2), Asjha Jones (#4) and Tamika (Williams) Raymond (#6) were from the same team, the 2002 NCAA Champion University of Connecticut.
- 2003 – Cheryl Ford (daughter of NBA great Karl Malone) helped the Detroit Shock win a WNBA Championship in her first season.
- 2004 – Lindsay Whalen picked #4 overall by Connecticut Sun – led the Sun to the WNBA finals two years in a row in her rookie and second year.
- 2005 – Kristin Haynie – Became the first person to play in the NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship game (with Michigan State) and the WNBA Finals (with the Sacramento Monarchs) in the same calendar year. She was on the losing side in the NCAA (to Baylor), but on the winning side in the WNBA.
- 2006 – Four of the top six draft picks would be named to the All-Star Game in their rookie season: Seimone Augustus, Cappie Pondexter, Sophia Young, and Candice Dupree.
- 2008 – Top pick Candace Parker went on to become the first WNBA player ever to be the league's Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season. 4th pick Alexis Hornbuckle became the first person to win a National Championship in college and a WNBA title in the same calendar year. She won a NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship with the University of Tennessee and then won a WNBA title with the Detroit Shock in the WNBA.
- WNBA Coach of the Year
- WNBA Finals MVP
- WNBA MVP
- WNBA Defensive Player of the Year
- WNBA Most Improved Player
- WNBA Rookie of the Year
- Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award
- "WNBA Past Draft Results Raw Data"
- "Dena Head oldest #1"
- "McCarville, White, Irvin Go First in the 2005 WNBA Draft". Retrieved Apr 17 2005.