WNBA exec gives his thoughts on Utah’s Alissa Pili getting drafted

The WNBA draft is on Monday, and Pili is projected as a potential first round pick.

(Bethany Baker | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Utes forward Alissa Pili (35) dribbles around Washington Huskies forward Dalayah Daniels (14) at Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 2, 2024.

The WNBA draft is Monday, and a Utah women’s basketball player is primed to get her name called.

Alissa Pili will travel to Brooklyn for the draft, which airs on ESPN at 5:30 p.m. MDT. She’ll be among players like Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, Cameron Brink, Kamilla Cardoso and others who will find out what team they’ll play for to start their careers at the next level.

Clark is the unanimous pick to go No. 1 to the Indiana Fever. After that, it’s anybody’s guess, especially when it comes to Pili.

The latest mock drafts from ESPN and USA Today have her going in the first round to the Dallas Wings at No. 9. Yahoo’s latest, however, has Pili in the second round at No. 19 to the Connecticut Sun.

That wide a range for where Pili could land might have something to do with how executives see her fitting in the WNBA.

“There’s some uncertainty around what exactly position-wise is the best fit for her,” Wings president and CEO Greg Bibb said Thursday.

Pili is 6-foot-2 and can score inside and from the 3-point line. In her five years of college basketball with USC and Utah, her final two with the Utes were her best statistically. She averaged 21.4 points and 6.6 rebounds in 2023-24, and shot 40.4% from the 3-point line.

Bibb said Pili will endure a “transition period” once she gets to the league. But there’s no doubt in his mind that she will succeed as a professional.

“I think she’s a unique talent,” Bibb said. “Clearly she’s demonstrated an ability to play at a high level with the college game. I think anyone with that talent level can find their way to a job in the WNBA.”

If the prognosticators are proven right, Pili will be moving to Dallas in the coming months. But she could just as easily end up in Indiana — with Clark — at No. 15, or fall later in the second round to the New York Liberty (No. 23 pick) or Las Vegas Aces (No. 24). There don’t seem to be any mock drafts that have Pili sinking to the third round.

“I think she’s one of those players, too, that her early career success will be largely dictated by the circumstances in which he’s drafted — i.e. which team takes her and how she fits within that roster,” Bibb said. “But clearly a very talented basketball player who I know will be drafted, drafted fairly early, will have a great shot to have a very productive WNBA career.”