Strong draft class has Chicago Sky's future looking bright
The Chicago Sky added three new players Thursday night in the WNBA Draft and many league insiders believe they came away with the best draft class.
But first-rounders Diamond DeShields (Tennessee) and Gabby Williams (Connecticut) and DePaul star Amarah Coleman, a third-round pickup, aren't even all of the talented rookies that could shake up the Sky this season.
Don't forget that Alaina Coates will be added to the mix as well. Or re-added, rather.
She's a rookie, but two years removed from college. Coates was taken by the Sky in the first round last year.
The former South Carolina star injured her ankle late in the 2016-17 season and missed the NCAA tournament and her team's run to the NCAA national title.
She missed all of last season with the Sky as she continued to recover and was occasionally in the seats, watching from a distance.
Coates is healthy now and, at 6-foot-4, gives the Sky a great presence inside.
DeShields, Williams and Coleman give the Sky tall, athletic guards.
The interesting thing about DeShields, the third overall pick in the draft, is that she took a pass on her final year of eligibility at Tennessee and played professionally this winter in Turkey.
"Diamond impacts the game on both sides of the ball," Sky general manager and head coach Amber Stocks said. "Defensively, her athleticism allows her to contain the ball, anticipate, and rotate effectively. Offensively, Diamond's a rare talent. She is intuitive, focused, determined, and a hard worker. I've gotten to know Diamond over the past couple of months and she's a joy to be around. She will be an incredible addition to the team."
DeShields was impressed that Stocks traveled all the way to Turkey to watch her play. That's where the two established a friendship.
"Obviously, that meant a lot," DeShields said. "Her being the only coach to take out the time and put the extra effort to come all the way out there, so it meant a lot to me."
Meanwhile, Williams, the fourth overall pick, is a proven winner, a two-time NCAA national champion and a two-time all-American, and should bring a winning energy to the Sky.
In 2017, ESPN analyst Jay Bilas called Williams among the toughest and the most complete players in the nation.
And Coleman has big-play capability. She hit a spectacular game-winning 3-pointer against Oklahoma this season and has great breakaway speed.
"Anytime you have multiple picks in the draft and you get the players you were hoping to get, you are the winner (of the draft). And that was the Chicago Sky in this draft," ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo said. "They wanted Diamond DeShiels, they wanted Gabby Williams. Both of those players fit into their system. Both of those players address specific needs that they have. Both of those players have phenomenal upsides in terms of how their games can grow. Two of the best athletes in the draft.
"Amber Stocks has to be absolutely thrilled with what her team picked up in this draft."
And last year's draft too possibly.
We'll see how healthy Coates is, but these last two draft classes could end up being the best back-to-back draft classes in Sky history.
Follow Patricia on Twitter: @babcockmcgraw