Sizing up Tia Presley's WNBA draft prospects

ALL THE DRAFT talk around Cougarville these days centers on Xavier Cooper, Vince Mayle and Connor Halliday, but there’s another Crimson Soldier whose name increasingly is coming up as a top 36 overall possibility. Her name is Tia Presley and when the WNBA draft unfolds today, there’s a solid chance the star guard’s name could be called.

The official WNBA site lists her among the 50 players to watch. The draft runs three rounds, 12 players per round, so the aim is to be among the top 36. CollegeSportsMadness.com pegs her at No. 31.

SwishAppeal.com is out this week with an in-depth feature on Presley. Author Nate Parham likens her to Washington Mystics guard Tayler Hill, a shooter, defender and adept ball handler who isn’t a WNBA starter but is a rotation regular.

Among the statistical gems Parham says help make Presley an intriguing prospect is this one: she drives both left and right at an equal rate. Another is that her steal percentage climbed from her junior to senior seasons.

“Although steals aren't a great indicator of ‘defensive ability’, they have been known to be a sign of a combination of athleticism and basketball IQ among wings: players who pick up a lot of steals aren't doing so because they're not moving. Watching how Presley gets her steals sort of underscores the point…,” writes Parham.

“Presley wasn't a dominant defensive player, but a high usage player with a solid steal percentage is a good sign of being able to compete against WNBA competition and she has that working in her favor,” he adds, likening this part of Presley’s game to Odyssey Sims of the Tulsa Shock, Alex Bentley of the Connecticut Sun and Monica Wright of the Minnesota Lynx, among others.

Parham’s bottom line on Presley’s WNBA chances is that her sophomore ACL injury will give general managers pause, “but the numbers she has put up in the final two seasons of her career really can't be ignored ... The big takeaway is that Presley is a player who was able to create shots and do so efficiently while usually drawing an opponent's top defenders.”

Presley, a three-time All-Pac-12 honoree, averaged 16.7 points per game this season and 19.0 last season, both fifth-highest in the conference. She also was among the top 10 in the conference in steals both seasons. Presley ranks No. 3 on WSU’s all-time scoring list.

To read Parham’s full analysis of Presley, CLICK HERE

ESPN2 will televise the first round of the WNBA draft starting at 4 p.m. PT today, and ESPN3 will air the second and third rounds starting at 5 p.m. PT.

PRESLEY'S GRADUATION LEAVES A LARGE void in the Cougar offense, but one incoming player who may help fill the breach -- especially from beyond the arc -- is Alexys Swedlund. The three-time All-State pick from Rapid City, S.D., averaged 25.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists a game this season to lead St. Thomas More High to its third state title in her four years on the varsity.

The Argus Leader, the newspaper in Sioux Falls, this week named the 6-foot guard the state player of the year in an outstanding feature story that can be found HERE. Swedlund credits much of her success to her first coach, as well as her AAU coach, father Shurald "Swede" Swedlund. Dad says her outstanding jump shot comes naturally.

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