New WNBA Format Could Affect Lehning, Gipson

The Women's National Basketball Association has downsized in teams and roster limits, which will make life even more difficult for K-Staters Shalee Lehning and Marlies Gipson in making it to the next level. We take the Scouting Report to Bring you their Draft Status and outlook....

The National Football League Draft is garnering the most attention this month, but don't tell that to Kansas State women's basketball standouts Shalee Lehning and Marlies Gipson.

Where they might be spending the summer months will be decided on April 9, when the three-round Women's National Association League Draft takes place in Secaucus, N.J.

According to draft sites, the 5-foot-9 Lehning is projected to be a second-rounder, while the 6-foot Gipson is listed as a candidate for the third round.

For both Wildcats, the timing is unfortunate. "This is a very intriguing draft year because the league has lost a team (Houston), plus the roster size of the remaining 13 teams is being reduced from 13 to 11," said K-State coach Deb Patterson. "What that means is that there are 39 players floating around who are free agents and competing for existing roster spots, plus the players entering via the draft."

According to WNBA Draft Net, Lehning's scouting report looks like this:

Strengths: Has quickly become one of the better playmakers in the nation; excellent in transition and in the open floor; great court vision, finding teammates with ease; strong rebounder for a player at the guard position; standout leader who usually makes mature, smart decisions; good slasher; strong build; scrappy defensively.

Weaknesses: Sometimes forces action offensively, at times to her teams disadvantage; over aggression on defense can sometimes lead her to create silly fouls, especially early in the games; needs to work on outside shooting a bit, especially from three; needs to more aggressive and consistent on offense.

"Realistically, Shalee has the opportunity to be drafted, but is that a guarantee? No," Patterson said. "This is a league where point guards will always be a need. In my mind, there's no question that if she gets an opportunity to join a veteran camp, she has the talent to impress.

"She's not a gifted athlete relative to the athletes we see in this league, but she brings great leadership and offensive abilities as a point guard," Patterson said. "The area where she will have to prove herself in a training camp will be on defense. But does she have that needed ability to make teammates better? Definitely."

Lehning finished her K-State career No. 1 in all-time assists, No. 4 in rebounding, and No. 5 in steals and No. 19 in scoring.

The Big 12 co-Player of the Year and honorable mention all-America selection is the only player in Big 12 history to record at least 1,000 points, 900 rebounds and 800 assists. WNBA Draft Net sees Gipson as this type of player:

Strengths: Very versatile; can shoot from most spots on the floor, even three; excellent footwork down low in the post; strong rebounder; steady defensive presence with solid shot blocking skills; strong defender who excels in blocking shots; good free throw shooter; a very smart player.

Weaknesses: Sometimes doesn't finish well with contact; may need to work on her speed just a little bit; bad in late shot clock positions; needs to work on decision making as far as when to shoot; needs to work on staying aggressive offensively.

"Marlies is an intriguing player because she has all that athletic ability, but is undersized for her position," Patterson said. "If a 6-2 four-player? No question. Then you're talking about a second-round draft pick. But she's 5-11 or 6-0."

Gipson finished her career No. 1 in blocked shots, No. 3 in all-time rebounding and No. 13 in scoring. The shortest player to rank among the top 10 shot blockers in the nation, Gipson was third in the Big 12 and 20th in the nation. Patterson said she has fielded WNBA calls on both players, but fully understands coaches all over the country are taking the same type of calls.

Patterson said that first-round choices have a "fairly high chance" of making a roster, second rounders have a "moderate chance" and "it's really tough" for third-round selections.

Expected to go 1-2 or 2-1 in the draft are Louisville's Angel McCoughtry and Oklahoma's Courtney Paris.

Point guards who are ranked higher than Lehning are UConn's Renee Montgomery and Maryland's Kristi Toliver.

The first round of the draft will be televised by ESPN2 at 2 p.m. on April 9, while the final two rounds on ESPNU beginning at 3. Still listed on WNBA rosters from K-State are Nicole Ohlde with the Phoenix Mercury and Laurie Koehn with the Washington Mystics.

Patterson also said that 2008 graduate Kimberly Dietz still has an interest in playing professionally after rehabbing an injured knee for the last year.

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