2016 WNBA Mock Draft: Analyzing Elite Prospects and Hidden Gems

Joe Pantorno@@JoePantornoFeatured ColumnistApril 8, 2016

Connecticut's Breanna Stewart, left, goes up for a shot against Duquesne's Kadri-Ann Lass during the first half of a second round of a women's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Monday, March 21, 2016, in Storrs, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Jessica Hill/Associated Press

With UConn fresh off of winning its fourth consecutive national championship Tuesday night over Syracuse, the WNBA draft will provide the next level for some of the biggest stars in women's college basketball. 

Beginning April 14 from Connecticut, the WNBA draft will provide three rounds with just 36 picks overall, which means only the best of the best will be making the jump from college to the pros. 

Here is a look at my first mock draft and players to look out for.

2016 WNBA Mock Draft
Round 1
1Seattle StormBreanna StewartCUConn
2San Antonio StarsMoriah JeffersonGUConn
3Connecticut SunAerial PowersFMichigan St.
4Connecticut SunRachel BanhamGMinnesota
5Dallas WingsMorgan TuckFUConn
6Los Angeles SparksTiffany MitchellGSouth Carolina
7Washington MysticsImani BoyetteCTexas
8Phoenix MercuryJonquel JonesCGeorge Washington
9Indiana FeverCourtney WilliamsGSouth Florida
10Chicago SkyAdut BulgakF/CFlorida St.
11Atlanta DreamRuth HamblinCOregon St.
12New York LibertyKahleah CopperGRutgers
Round 2
13Atlanta DreamBria HolmesGWest Virginia
14Minnesota LynxTemi FagbenleCUSC
15Connecticut SunCourtney WilliamsFTexas A&M
16Atlanta DreamNiya JohnsonGBaylor
17Los Angeles SparksJillian AlleyneFOregon
18Dallas WingsJamie WeisnerGOregon St.
19Washington MysticsWhitney KnightGFlorida Gulf Coast
20Phoenix MercuryLexi Eaton RydalchGBYU
21Indiana FeverShereesha RichardsFAlbany
22Minnesota LynxBashaara GravesFTennessee
23Connecticut SunBrittney MartinGOklahoma St.
24New York LibertyMichala JohnsonFWisconsin
Round 3
25San Antonio StarsBrianna BanksGPenn State
26Seattle StormAmeryst AlstonGOhio St.
27Connecticut SunKaylon WilliamsFOklahoma
28Atlanta DreamLia GaldeiraGWashington St.
29Los Angeles SparksBrianna ButlerGSyracuse
30Dallas WingsMegan PodkowaG/FDePaul
31Washington MysticsCourtney WalkerGTexas A&M
32Phoenix MercuryJada PayneFEast Carolina
33Indiana FeverAliyyah HandfordGSt. John's
34Chicago SkyJordan JonesGTexas A&M
35Minnesota LynxTalia WaltonFNebraska
36New York LibertyMadison CableGNotre Dame

Elite Prospects

Breanna Stewart, C, UConn

There's not much one can say to sell you further on Breanna Stewart. She's a four-time national champion who can score from anywhere on the floor and bully her way under the basket to pick up rebounds. 

On a dynastic UConn team that has won 11 championships over the past two decades, Stewart has solidified herself toward the top of the list of players to put on the white and navy. 

At 6'4", Stewart could play any position on the floor, which is something any WNBA team would love, as her versatility will give offenses an added dimension moving forward. 

In fact, her head coach, Geno Auriemma, called her "Durant-esque," referring to Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant, per ESPN.com's Eddie Matz

Even Durant chimed in, per Matz: "Breanna Stewart is the real deal. She's something we've never seen before."

That's all you need to know when it comes to Stewart. You'll see her succeeding in the WNBA soon. 

Moriah Jefferson, G, UConn

Not to be lost in the Stewart hype, UConn's Moriah Jefferson is also a can't-miss prospect entering the WNBA draft this season. 

She was a solid secondary scorer for the Huskies behind Stewart and was the motor that ran the offense. Jefferson averaged 5.5 assists per game, as her aggressive style of play could cut up opposing defenses. 

It's a huge feat just to be mentioned next to UConn great Diana Taurasi; it's another thing to break a record she once held, as UConn showed:

UConn Women's Hoops @UConnWBB

With 2 helpers, Moriah Jefferson passes @DianaTaurasi and is now #UConn's all-time leader with 649 assists! https://t.co/9ZSWP23ZaG

Jefferson is also potent from downtown, shooting over 43 percent from three-point range in the 2015-16 season. 

In the right system, Jefferson can jolt any offense into gear and will be a dangerous guard in the coming years. 

Hidden Gems

Jamie Weisner, G, Oregon State

Oregon State guard Jamie Weisner can flat-out score. She proved that on the big stage when she scored 38 points against DePaul in the NCAA tournament. 

In 37 games in 2015-16, she was the Beavers' leading scorer 18 times. In 13 of those games, she recorded 20 or more points. 

She's at her most dangerous from three-point range, as she shot 44.3 percent from behind the arc. 

With a pure stroke like that, Weisner is going to be the kind of catch-and-shoot asset WNBA teams will need from the perimeter. Expect to see her making an impact soon with some clutch shots from three. 

Jillian Alleyne, F, Oregon

Every team needs a looming presence under the basket who can go up, fight for and bring down rebounds. 

Whether it's to spark the transition game or find second-chance points, glass play is vital to create an all-around successful game. 

WNBA teams looking for help should look no further than Oregon's Jillian Alleyne, who led the NCAA in the 2015-16 season with 15.7 rebounds per game. 

However, she will be on the path to recovery, as she suffered a season-ending ACL injury on Feb. 23. Once she proves that she's healthy and can power her way inside, watch out.