The 2012 WNBA Draft was roughly nine years ago, with the Los Angeles Sparks making Nneka Ogwumike of Stanford the 17th No. 1 pick in the league’s history.
Shekinna Stricklen of Tennessee was next, selected by the Seattle Storm in a pick acquired through a sizable deal ahead of the draft from the Chicago Sky. Devereaux Peters of Notre Dame went third to the Minnesota Lynx, another traded pick that the Washington Mystics originally owned. Glory Johnson of Tennessee and Shenise Johnson of Miami (FL) rounded out the top five, in that order, heading to the Tulsa Shock and San Antonio Silver Stars, respectively.
Three Lady Vols went in the first seven picks with Kelley Cain heading to the New York Liberty with the No. 7 pick. The first international player taken was Astan Dabo of Mali, whom the Connecticut Sun selected with the No. 9 choice.
In total, five international players were chosen in the three-round draft, and Tennessee had the most players picked with four. The most active team was Minnesota, picking six players by the end of the night.
It has been long enough to know what impact, if any, each of these picks made on their respective teams and the league as a whole. But at the time, no one could have really known what the aftermath of the draft would bring. That’s why we’re going back in time, about a decade back or so, and remembering the initial reactions to the 2012 WNBA Draft.
Reactions to the 2012 WNBA Draft
“Today the WNBA will officially kick-off its 16th season when ESPN hosts the 2012 WNBA Draft … at its Bristol, Connecticut campus. ESPN2 will televise the first round beginning at 2 p.m. ET, with a simulcast of the entire draft on ESPN3.com. ESPNU and NBA TV will broadcast the second and third rounds.” – Alana Glass, Forbes
“Nneka Ogwumike became Stanford’s first No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA Draft when taken by the Los Angeles Sparks on Monday.
The 6-foot-2 forward is a three-time All-America who led the Cardinal to its fifth straight Women’s Final Four this month.” – The Mercury News
“No. 1: Los Angeles Sparks – Nnemkadi Ogwumike, F, Stanford
No surprise here, the Sparks use the top pick on the best player in the draft. Ogwumike has a great feel for the game, dominating with ease while at Stanford.
She helped lead Stanford to four straight final four appearances, and now she’ll set out to bring LA back to the top of the WNBA.” – Eric Bowman, Bleacher Report
“I’m just really happy to have another chance to go after another title and not just limited to four years.” – Nneka Ogwumike
“The Sparks got the crown jewel of this draft in Stanford’s Nneka Ogwumike. She is the kind of talent that can make a big impact right away and that is why she was the clear-cut No. 1 pick in (the 2012 WNBA Draft). The 6-foot-2 forward will join Candace Parker, Nicky Anosike and DeLisha Milton-Jones to form one of the league’s most formidable frontlines.
Later in the draft, L.A. added proven guards in Rutgers’ Khadijah Rushdan and Texas A&M’s Tyra White, who helped lead the Aggies to a National Championship in 2011, and they both to compete for spots on the roster in training camp. 6-foot-2 Farhiya Abdi from the Sweden (sic), selected with the first pick in the second round, is a project for the future.” – Anthony Olivia, WNBA.com
“Together ESPN and the WNBA have a shared goal, and that is to advance women’s basketball.
‘Women’s basketball means a great to us and our viewers,’ said (ESPN Vice President of Programming & Acquisitions Carol) Stiff. ‘The fact that we carry over 200 women’s collegiate basketball games a year, it just makes all the sense in the world that as we continue to try and bring a new demographic to our fan base that we find ways to grow these great storylines from the collegiate level into the WNBA.’
Last year was the first time in ESPN’s 32-year history that it hosted a draft on its 123-acre campus; and over the course of the last eight months, Stiff and the WNBA’s Chief Operating Officer, Christine Godleski, have worked diligently with the best and brightest at ESPN and the WNBA to make it happen all over again.” – Glass
“I’m not sure that ‘untapped potential’ or ‘chronic underachiever’ are accurate. To me, (Shekinna Stricklen) is a role player’s brain in a superstar’s body. She played every position at UT very well, but the key is she played each position as needed.
She was point guard when they didn’t have one. She served time at post (sorta) when Johnson was developing and Cain was the only other healthy center. She’s been on the wing, at forward, and pretty much anywhere, but only because the team needed somebody to fill those slots. It was never a matter of building a team around Stricklen but rather finishing a team with Stricklen.
If you’re wondering how that will translate to the WNBA, it’s good to remember that UT did not have a point guard until Stricklen’s junior year, and even they they only had freshmen points (Avant, then Massengale). That placed Stricklen at the point for two years when she should have been a guard/wing/forward thingamajig. Had Cait McMahon not left for injury reasons, Stricklen’s career would have been the most affected.
The key will be this: will the team that drafts Stricklen have a place ready for her, or will she be plugging holes? The former will be dictated by her brain – a wing player who can rotate out or in as needed to finish off the offense. The later will be dictated by her athleticism – a body that is physically capable of any position. She needs to be in the former position, and she needs another team leader on the floor to follow. That may be a point guard that finds ways to get her good scoring opportunities, in that case, she could be a career double-double waiting to happen. But she can’t be expected to fill any random gap in the lineup and to be a leader. That’s what was asked of her at UT, and that’s not who she is.” – David Hooper, Rocky Top Talk
“No. 2: Seattle Storm – Shekinna Stricklen, G/F, Tennessee
The Storm got this pick in a deal with Chicago, and they wisely use it on a dynamic player like Stricklen.
Seattle needs someone to step up and replace the production of Swin Cash. Stricklen will help will the void, as she is a great scorer and a solid defender.” – Bowman
“The Storm traded Swin Cash and Le’Coe Willingham for the No. 2 pick and they drafted their heir apparent to Cash in Shekinna Stricklen. A versatile 6-foot-2 forward, Stricklen is likely to be afforded the opportunity to play substantial minutes this year – if she earns them. Fortunately for Seattle, however, Stricklen has the benefit of being able to develop slowly with a veteran roster already in place. There’s not much Stricklen can’t do, she averaged 15.4 and 6.6 rebounds in what some considered to be a down season her senior year, and figures to complement Sue Bird nicely for years to come.
The Storm rounded out their (2012 WNBA Draft) with the selection of Keisha Hampton, an intriguing prospect near the end of the second round. An explosive 6-foot-2 wing, Hampton averaged 16.6 points in 12 games before missing the rest of last season with a right knee injury. She will not report to training camp until the 2013 season.” – Olivia
“Rebounders were a hot commodity: 6 of the 10 first round picks that players in the NCAA were very strong rebounders – including Stanford’s Nneka Ogwumike, who the L.A. Sparks made the first selection overall – which makes a lot of sense in a ‘weak’ draft as college offensive rebounding tends to transfer well as an indicator of potential at the pro level, even if not a dominant pro rebounder. Courtney Hart is obviously undersized, but on an Indiana Fever team that needs rebounding she was well worth a chance as a third round pick.” – Nate P, Swish Appeal
“I can give you my one-sentence feelers right now:
If Stricklen is not asked to be the leader (yet), she could have a strong rookie year.
For a team with a bigger post player, Glory (Johnson) could get moved to the 4, especially if she continues to develop her jumper.
(Vicki) Baugh’s ACL problems have prevented her from developing properly during college, so I can’t blame teams for being jittery. She needs to be a backup first and would best be placed on a team with a veteran post that she can replace down the line. (Ok, that was two sentences.)” – Hooper
“No. 3: Minnesota Lynx – Devereaux Peters, F, Notre Dame
The rich get richer, as the WNBA defending champs stockpile more talent on the roster. Peters is a two-time Big East Defensive player of the year.
She’s a very skilled rebounder, and if the Lynx are going to repeat, they needed another strong player down low like Peters to crash the boards and play suburb defense.” – Bowman
“It’s hard to say if the Lynx drafted for need or not – because they seemingly don’t have any. To the surprise of some, they drafted Notre Dame’s Devereaux Peters with the No. 3 pick, but she is just the kind of player – one that can do all the dirty work – that can flush out a championship roster. She will also add depth to a talented, yet aging frontcourt.
Second round picks Julie Wojta and Kayla Standish, who put up gaudy numbers at Wisconsin-Green Bay and Gonzaga respectively, will have an opportunity to prove themselves in training camp, especially with the three Lynx players prepping for the Olympics, but cracking the roster of the defending champs will not be easy.” – Olivia
“Was Devereaux Peters drafted too high? I’m not sure there’s any consensus on how good Peters might become. The question, and I’m not sure anyone has a definitive answer, is how much of what she has done in college will transfer to the pros and how close is she to her ceiling?” – Nate P
“Julie Wojta is a great fit for the Lynx in theory, but their roster situation makes that selection somewhat unfortunate. On almost any other team in the league, Wojta would be the early favorite for steal of this draft at #18. She would be a great fit for the Lynx in that she’s got an ideal skill set as complementary pro player who can do a little bit of everything and she shot 40.8% from the 3-point line in her senior year. It would be difficult for her to make the roster this season, but there’s little question that she offers as much or more than some other players currently on WNBA rosters, athletically if nothing else.” – Nate P
“No. 4: Tulsa Shock – Glory Johnson, F, Tennessee
After winning just three games, the Shock had to make some changes. They got a new head coach in Gary Kloppenburg, and he’ll be thrilled to have Johnson.
She brings great intensity to Tulsa, as well as great size at 6’3″. There will be a lot of pressure on Johnson to help this struggling team, but she has the talent to help the Shock win much more.” – Bowman
“The Shock have an impressive haul of draft picks, actually selecting four of the 15 players that were invited to attend the (2012 WNBA Draft). This is a team that finished last in rebounding last year, so they added 6-foot-3 Glory Johnson, Johnson’s teammate from Tennessee in 6-foot-4 Vicki Baugh and the 6-foot-4 Lynetta Kizer, which is sure to turn out to be a great training camp competition. Those three draftees combined to average 22.1 rebounds per game last year, just about 8.5 less than the entire Tulsa team.
A team that struggled scoring the basketball as well, Tulsa was very fortunate to have Miami guard Riquna Williams fall to them in the second round. Williams is one of the most explosive players in the draft, averaging 19.6, 21.7 and 16.6 points per game her sophomore, junior and senior seasons respectively. She could turn into one of the steals of the draft.” – Olivia
“Riquna Williams’ suspension probably did hurt her draft stock, but so did being an inefficient 5’7″ volume shooter. Given the track record of players with similar profiles in the past and the number of international players drafted, going #17 is a value pick but not much of a snub. Certainly the details of her suspension being reported didn’t help her any, but her college numbers suggest she’d have to make adjustments to be an efficient rotation player in the WNBA even with all of her athleticism.” – Nate P
“No. 5: San Antonio Silver Stars – Shenise Johnson, SG, Miami
The Stars needed a well rounded guard, and they’re quite pleased Johnson fell their way. Johnson is a solid scorer who helps make everyone around her better.
She never gives up when she steps on the court, and the Stars will love having such a versatile player with the ability to become a big star in the league.” – Bowman
“The Silver Stars had to be a little surprised that Miami’s Shenise Johnson slipped to them at No. 5. While San Antonio was looking to add size, Johnson was too big of a talent to let slip by. She has a chance to be a true star in this league, and Coach Dan Hughes will now have the luxury of adding her to an already solid rotation on the wing.
With only one pick in this year’s draft, the Silver Stars were not able to add more length, something they started to do it free agency (sic). Luckily for them, Johnson, who graduated as only the second player in Division I history with 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 500 assists and 400 steals, fills the roles of a few players out there.” – Olivia
“Shenise Johnson might end up being the steal of the draft: I didn’t think Johnson would fall past the Tulsa Shock at #4, a team that had a clear need for a wing. Glory Johnson was clearly among the most talented prospects in the draft, so it wasn’t a costly mistake. But Shenise Johnson was among the most versatile playmakers – as in distributing and scoring – to come out in a few years.” – Nate P
“Could this be a good year for second round picks? Tiffany Hayes is not likely to be a star, but she was a value pick by the Atlanta Dream at #14 in the draft – with Angel McCoughtry on the perimeter efficient, complementary scorers could be as valuable as inefficient, volume shooters. The Sparks need a ball handler with Ticha Penicheiro departed to the Chicago Sky, so Khadijah Rushdan (#15) has a good chance to make their roster and could help improve their defense. Tyra White’s (#16) defensive ability might help give her a chance at making the roster. Tulsa needed scoring so Riquna Williams (#17) will have as good a chance as anyone in (the 2012 WNBA Draft) to make a roster. C’eira Ricketts (#24) is a fit for the Phoenix Mercury in that there were few players faster with the ball in the nation this year although she’s not a particularly efficient college 3-point shooter.” – Nate P
This article was originally published May 21, 2020.