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posted: 4/13/2012 5:25 PM

With Cash in hand, Sky doesn't need draft help

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  • WNBA all-star Swin Cash, left, is expected to help the Chicago Sky make the playoffs for the first time. The Sky traded its top draft pick for Cash and won't have a first-round selection in Monday's WNBA draft.

    WNBA all-star Swin Cash, left, is expected to help the Chicago Sky make the playoffs for the first time. The Sky traded its top draft pick for Cash and won't have a first-round selection in Monday's WNBA draft.
    Associated Press file


There's good news and there's bad news regarding the fact that, for the first time in its seven-year existence, the Chicago Sky doesn't have a high first-round draft pick.

Or any first-round draft pick for that matter.

The bad news, of course, is the Sky wasn't pushed out of lotteryland and the first round of Monday's 2012 WNBA draft (1 p.m., ESPN2) because it made the playoffs in 2011.

As we all know, the Sky (14-20 in 2011) is still looking for its first trip to the postseason and is 0-for-6 thus far.

The good news is that a bold and intriguing offseason trade has brought one of the most respected and decorated veterans in the WNBA to Chicago in exchange for what should have been the second overall pick in the draft.

Swin Cash, a versatile swing player who recently made the U.S. Olympic team for the second time, was traded to the Sky in January from Seattle in exchange for the Sky's No. 2 pick. The Sky also picked up underrated forward Le'coe Willingham in the deal.

The first time we'll see the Sky on the clock is in the second round with the No. 11 pick (23rd overall). The Sky also has the third pick in the third round (No. 27 overall).

Usually, second- and third-round draft picks are a stretch to make a WNBA roster, which has room for only 11 players. So the Sky likely won't be adding anyone through the draft.

But I'm not worried. This is a relatively weak draft class, and the Sky wasn't giving up a franchise player when it gave away that No. 2 pick.

More important, Sky coach Pokey Chatman has already done a nice job of filling in her roster around Cash and Willingham and the key pieces that were already in place, such as Olympic team center Sylvia Fowles and young guards Epiphanny Prince and Courtney Vandersloot, who both ooze potential.

Forwards Tamera Young and Shay Murphy, both X-factor type of players, have been re-signed, and veteran point guard Ticha Penicheiro, the league's all-time leader in assists, has been brought in for her leadership and guidance. Former Notre Dame star Ruth Riley, a steady 6-foot-5 center with 11 years of experience, also was added.

Chatman will draft two college players on Monday and bring them in as bodies for training camp, but they will likely be cut before the opener in Washington on May 19, along with two other players on the current roster.

Players on the chopping block include: former DePaul star forward Felicia Chester, 6-foot-4 Serbian rookie Sonja Petrovic, 6-foot-6 second-year player Carolyn Swords, and former Purdue and Neuqua Valley standout forward Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton.

History lesson:

Maybe it's not a bad thing that the Sky won't be very active in the draft. The Sky has had some great hits, but also a lot of misses on draft day.

Of its six first-round draft picks, only three are still here.

Candice Dupree, the Sky's first-ever draft pick (sixth overall in 2006), was traded three years ago to Phoenix in a deal that brought Shameka Christon here. Christon was plagued by injuries and was cut last season.

Armintie Price, the No. 3 pick of the 2007 draft and Kristi Toliver, the No. 3 pick of the 2009 draft, were both traded and now play for the Atlanta Dream and the Los Angeles Sparks, respectively.

Of course, the picks that clicked have been Sylvia Fowles (No. 2 in 2008), Epiphanny Prince (No. 4 in 2010) and Courtney Vandersloot (No. 3 in 2011).

Overall, the draft success rate for the Sky isn't good. Of 19 total picks, only four are around today. That includes the three players mentioned above and Carolyn Swords.

Head of the class:

I agree with most prognosticators that Stanford forward Nneka (Nnemkadi) Ogwumike will be the first player chosen in the WNBA draft.

The first pick is held by the Los Angeles Sparks.

The next three players taken could be any combination of Shekinna Stricklen (Tennessee), Shenise Johnson (Miami) and Glory Johnson (Tennessee).

It will be interesting to see what happens with DePaul's Keisha Hampton, who sat out most of the 2011-12 season with a knee injury, Notre Dame star Devereaux Peters out of Fenwick, and Big Ten standouts Samantha Prahalis (Ohio State) and Brittany Rayburn (Purdue).

• Patricia Babcock McGraw also is the color analyst for Chicago Sky games, which are televised on Comcast CN100.

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