Unlike the NBA and NFL, where the drafts come months after the conclusion of the college regular seasons and feature interminable amounts of analysis and debate, the WNBA cuts right to the chase when it comes to the draft. The NCAA women's basketball championship game was on Sunday night; the 2019 WNBA Draft was tonight. The WNBA Draft held more interest than normal for Iowa fans, of course, because we were anxious to see where Megan Gustafson, aka the greatest basketball player in Iowa history, would be selected. The answer?
Gustafson was selected by the Dallas Wings with the 17th overall pick, which was also the fifth pick of the second round. A hearty congratulations to Gustafson for now getting a chance to live her professional basketball dreams. She's the first Iowa player selected in the WNBA Draft since Samantha Logic was taken with the 10th overall pick by the Atlanta Dream in 2015 (she was then immediately traded to the San Antonio Stars).
So how did the ESPNW, AP, and Naismith Player of the Year and a woman who put up jaw-dropping stats on a nightly basis at Iowa fall to the second round of the WNBA Draft? I think it mainly boils down to this: Gustafson excelled as a big fish in a B1G pond, but there are question marks about her ability to excel in an ocean filled with the biggest and best women's basketball players on the planet. Gustafson was not the biggest player in college, nor the strongest, nor the quickest; she'll face women in the post in the WNBA who are bigger, stronger, and faster than she is -- how will she handle that? That's a reasonable question to ask and the answer to it will likely determine the ceiling of her professional career.
That said, Gustafson should have an opportunity to succeed in the WNBA because of the same traits that carried her to an unforgettable career at Iowa: her array of post moves, her knack for knowing where the ball is going on rebounds, her extremely high basketball IQ, and, of course, her indefatigable work ethic. And, on the bright side, after two years of seeing a steady stream of double teams from opponents and being option A, B, C, and D for Iowa on offense, Gustafson will likely only have to deal with a single defender in the WNBA and won't be relied upon to be the alpha and omega of her team's offense.
We wish her the absolute best of luck with the Wings. It was a true joy and a privilege to watch her set fire to the Iowa (and Big Ten) record books over the past four seasons; it's not often you get to witness greatness as it happens, but we were gifted with that opportunity. Gustafson is moving on to bigger things in the WNBA now, but she'll always by a Hawkeye and we'll be rooting for her to excel in the professional ranks. Good luck, Megan.