2013 WNBA Draft: Under-the-Radar Rookie of the Year Candidates

Maxwell OgdenCorrespondent IIIApril 16, 2013

April 7, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; California Golden Bears guard Layshia Clarendon (23) talks to her teammates against the Louisville Cardinals during the first half in the semifinals during the 2013 NCAA womens Final Four at the New Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

The 2013 WNBA Draft took center stage on Sunday, Apr. 14, as the stars of tomorrow made their leap to the professional ranks. As expected, the trio of Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne and Skyler Diggins rounded out the top three draft choices.

The question is, which of the under-the-radar first-year players could take home the Rookie of the Year award?

Entering the 2013 WNBA Draft, there was no question about which players would go in the top three. Griner had proven to be the most dominant college basketball player of her generation, while Delle Donne and Diggins had become celebrities in their own right.

The true question was in reference to what would happen after them.

As it played out, not a single school managed to produce multiple prospects in the first round of the draft. Even still, we witnessed the college stars of 2012-13 enter the WNBA with a full head of steam.

So who might steal the award?


Kayla Alexander, San Antonio Silver Stars

The San Antonio Silver Stars are a team with excellent team chemistry and brilliant guard play. Led by six-time All-Star Becky Hammon, the Silver Stars have the star leader necessary to reach the postseason.

All they seemed to lack was an interior presence—enter Kayla Alexander.

Alexander is a 6'4" center that dominated elite competition while playing for the Syracuse Orange. She set the school records in career points, blocks, field goals, free throws made and games played.

Most importantly, Alexander was second all-time on the Syracuse career rebounding list.

With Alexander stepping in as San Antonio's interior presence, there is a strong possibility that she receives a high volume of touches. Whether she's crashing the boards on either end or receiving it in the post, Alexander will have the opportunity to pad her stats on a quality team.

That may just be enough to win Rookie of the Year.


Layshia Clarendon, Indiana Fever

The Indiana Fever are the defending WNBA champions. They're led by a world-class trio of Tamika Catchings, Katie Douglas and Briann January.

Entering the mix is respected leader and clutch scorer Layshia Clarendon out of California.

Clarendon made her mark on the 2013 NCAA Tournament, leading the Cal Golden Bears to their first Final Four appearance in school history. This is the type of leadership and clutch play that a team like the Fever could benefit from as a title defender.

It's also what could make Clarendon a dark horse candidate for Rookie of the Year.


Tayler Hill, Washington Mystics

Entering the 2013 WNBA Draft, the Washington Mystics were desperate for a go-to scorer. Crystal Langhorne is a two-time All-Star, but she's more of a well-rounded contributor than an elite scorer.

How much better of a fit could you find than Tayler Hill of the Ohio State Buckeyes?

Hill is coming off a season in which she averaged 21.1 points per game against a quality Big Ten. In four years Ohio State, the 5'10" scoring guard accumulated 2015 points and 194 three-point field goals made.

How better to make your name than by proving to be an elite scorer?

Hill could help the Mystics improve upon their record of 5-29 during the 2012 season. If she does, her scoring output may just be enough to help her strike gold.

Few scorers have proven to be as prolific as Hill at the collegiate level, which will be on full display in the WNBA.