Aces pick 4 in WNBA Draft; what are their roster chances?

The Sporting Tribune's Will Despart breaks down the Aces night at the 2024 WNBA Draft.

LAS VEGAS — Monday’s WNBA draft was the most anticipated in the league’s 28-year history.

The evening was headlined by national sensation Caitlin Clark’s coronation as the top pick. Fellow stars Cameron Brink, Kamilla Cardoso and Angel Reese were just a few of the other elite names drafted in a class that has brought unprecedented attention to the league.

However, all of this star power shined another light on the WNBA: There are not enough teams to support the influx of talent. With just 12 teams, only 36 players are drafted into the WNBA each year.

Of the 72 players who were drafted in the previous two WNBA drafts, 32 made it on a final roster. That means 56% of players drafted in the last two seasons didn’t make any team in the regular season or played exclusively abroad.

For a team like the two-time defending champion Las Vegas Aces, who have a completely stacked roster and only held second- and third-round picks, it’s not a stretch to say the draft is an afterthought. There is likely space for one, maybe two rookies on the opening day roster this season — and that’s mostly because of depth of the incoming class and the quality of the Aces’ picks.

So, without further ado, let’s get into those picks and see who they are and where they stand in terms of making the final roster.

16th overall (2nd round): G Dyaisha Fair, Syracuse

The depth of talent in this draft shows in that Dyaisha Fair, who was the best ball handler and an elite scorer, was available in the second round.

Fair is a Rochester, New York, native who played the first three college seasons at Buffalo. After three highly decorated seasons with the Bulls that culminated in a 2019 NCAA tournament berth, Fair transferred to Syracuse.

Fair was a two-time first team All-ACC player and a third team All-American at Syracuse. She averaged 22.2 points per game throughout her college career for a combined 3,403 points. This trails only Caitlin Clark and future teammate Kelsey Plum in NCAA division I women’s basketball history.

Of Aces’ draftees, Fair has the best chance for a roster spot. She is a consistent scoring threat who is especially proficient in creating her own opportunities from inside and beyond the arc. She should develop into an upgraded version of the role Riquana Williams played before she left the WNBA.

18th overall (2nd round): SG Kate Martin, Iowa

Kate Martin wasn’t invited to attend the WNBA Draft, but was there to support Clark, her former Iowa teammate. It led to the feel good moment of the draft.

Moments after selecting Fair, the Aces shocked the room by selecting Martin. The Hawkeye contingent in attendance erupted in excitement as her dream of being a WNBA draft pick was realized despite being a three-star prospect in high school.

Martin’s 13.1 points per game this season were the third most on the team for the national runners-up, behind Clark and Hannah Stuelke. Martin had a handful of clutch shots and performances throughout the season, most notably during their Final Four victory over UConn.

Martin has an outside shot at making the Aces roster, but it’s probably unlikely. Her inclusion would mean the Aces would part ways with locker-room favorite Sydney Colson or Kierstan Bell.

It’s even more unlikely they would release one of their newly acquired free agents (Brea Beal or Bria Hartley). Martin will have a chance to make the roster, but it’s hard to see her prevailing.

24th overall (2nd round): F Elizabeth Kitley, Virginia Tech

Liz Kitley is an interesting selection. She finished her career with the Hokies as the reigning three-time ACC Player of the Year and was on her way to becoming a first-round pick until she tore her ACL on March 3.

Kitley also was a three-time all-American and averaged more than 17 points and 10 rebounds during her college career. She recorded career highs in this past season before the injury, averaging 22.8 points per game and 11.4 rebounds.

The Aces took her fully aware that she will be out for this season as she rehabs her torn ACL. The goal will be for her to compete a roster spot for the 2025 season.

If Kitley can comeback at least as good, this pick has a chance to be a steal for the Aces. Of course, that would mean that the Aces need to stick by her through her rehabilitation process since the WNBA has no injured reserve list.

36th overall (3rd round): Angel Jackson, Jackson State

Angel Jackson, who was taken with the draft’s last pick, played the first three years in a bench role at USC before transferring to Jackson State ahead of her senior season. There she started 59 of the last 64 games of her collegiate career thanks to a graduate year.

She averaged more than 10 points per game and six rebounds this season and played a key role for a Jackson State that earned a berth to the NCAA Tournament.

However, Jackson’s chances of making the Aces roster are slim. She will be the last guard on the preseason depth chart for a team that has the deepest backcourt in the league.