WNBA draft: Chicago Sky go big with South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso and LSU’s Angel Reese in 1st round (2024)

The Chicago Sky ushered in a new era for the franchise Monday, selecting a pair of national champion frontcourt stars in the first seven picks of the WNBA draft.

The Sky took South Carolina center Kamilla Cardoso with the No. 3 pick and added LSU forward Angel Reese at No. 7. The 6-foot-7 Cardoso is fresh off a star-making performance in the NCAA Tournament for the champion Gameco*cks, while Reese — one of the most popular players in women’s basketball — led the Tigers to the national title in 2023.

“This is a huge night for us for a lot of reasons,” first-year Sky general manager Jeff Pagliocca said. “We were very fortunate with who our targets were and the fact we were able to get exactly what we wanted out of this draft. We are ecstatic.”

Column: For Chicago Sky fans, tomorrow is here with draft picks Kamilla Cardoso and Angel Reese

First-year coach TeresaWeatherspoon reiterated that the order of selection “fell into place just the way we planned it.”

“There’s a lot of work that was put in behind this, sleepless nights of constantly calling and speaking and strategizing,” Weatherspoon said. “This is a chess match and we actually got every player that we had designed to get.

“This is an exciting moment for us, exciting moment for the city and an exciting moment for the Chicago Sky organization.”

After the Indiana Fever selected Iowa star Caitlin Clark, as expected, with the No. 1 pick in a highly touted draft class, the Los Angeles Sparks took Stanford’s Cameron Brink at No. 2. That left the Sky to choose between Cardoso and Tennessee’s Rickea Jackson, who wound up going to the Sparks at No. 4.

Few players bring a dominant presence in the paint like Cardoso.

The Brazilian native averaged 14.4 points and 9.7 rebounds in her first season as the Gameco*cks’ primary option after Aliyah Boston departed for the WNBA a year ago.

Photos: 2024 WNBA draft Chicago Sky watch party

Earlier this year, the selection of Cardoso at No. 3 might have seemed like a slight reach for the Sky, who will need to develop her offensively to build her into a more versatile player. But after she averaged 16.6 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in five NCAA Tournament games, it’s clear Cardoso can make an immediate defensive impact at the highest level.

Asked what she’s looking forward to the most about competing in the WNBA, Cardoso said: “Just getting better, being more physical, more competition. And I’m just excited to get out there and play with some of the big names of women’s basketball.”

WNBA draft: Chicago Sky go big with South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso and LSU’s Angel Reese in 1st round (1)

The 6-3 Reese is a proven presence on the boards, averaging 18.6 points and 13.4 rebounds in her senior season with the Tigers. She will have work to do for her success to translate to the WNBA — especially on the offensive end, where she needs to expand her shooting range — but her rebounding ability should carry over quickly.

“She’s a great player and I’m a great player,” Cardoso told reporters in New York about Reese. “Nobody’s going to get no rebounds on us.”

A strong partnership with Weatherspoon could be a key to unlocking the potential of Reese and Cardoso.

“It means the most to me,” Cardoso said of being coached by Weatherspoon after playing for Dawn Staley in college. “It just tells me that I’m going to be in good hands and I’m just excited to get back and work with her.”

WNBA draft: Chicago Sky go big with South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso and LSU’s Angel Reese in 1st round (2)

Reese also mentioned “great” conversations with Weatherspoon.

“As you know, she was coached by (LSU) coach (Kim) Mulkey, so I kind of thought maybe I’ll go there and knowing the conversations were so good,” Reese said. “Jeff the GM was amazing too. And player development is something that I was looking for and they look for in me. I’m super excited for this move and looking forward to getting to Chicago.”

The Sky acquired the No. 3 pick from the Phoenix Mercury in February in a blockbuster trade for three-time All-Star Kahleah Copper. The trade signaled a shift in the Sky’s approach to building a roster under a new front office and coaching staff helmed by Pagliocca and Weatherspoon.

The Sky since parted with other roster mainstays such as Rebekah Gardner, leaving only five returning players from the 2023 season. And with only one player — guard Dana Evans — left from the franchise-record-setting 2022 season, the Sky are undergoing a rebuild after recouping necessary draft stock lost in recent seasons.

The Sky traded up from No. 8 to No. 7 with the Minnesota Lynx on Sunday, also acquiring forward Nikolina Milić while sending forward Sika Koné, their 2025 second-round pick and the right to swap 2026 first-round picks to Minnesota. They initially acquired the No. 8 pick in February from the Sparks in exchange for Julie Allemand, the rights to Li Yueru and a third-round pick in 2025.

The Sky also picked Gonzaga guard Brynna Maxwell at No. 13, the first selection in the second round. The 3-point specialist averaged 13.8 points and shot 45.9% behind the arc over two seasons for the Bulldogs after playing her first three seasons at Utah.

The Sky’s 2024 season begins May 15 at Dallas, with the home opener scheduled for May 25 against the Connecticut Sun. Click here for the full schedule.

Associated Press contributed.

WNBA draft: Chicago Sky go big with South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso and LSU’s Angel Reese in 1st round (2024)


What is the most watched WNBA Draft? ›

The Caitlin Clark experience delivered another television milestone as ESPN's coverage of the WNBA draft on Monday night averaged a record 2.45 million viewers. Viewership peaked at 3.09 million, ESPN said in a release Tuesday.

Who drafted Kamilla Cardoso? ›

With the No. 3 pick in the WNBA Draft, the Chicago Sky selected South Carolina's Kamilla Cardoso, who led her team to a national championship and an undefeated season.

Who picked Caitlin Clark? ›

Caitlin Clark won't make her WNBA debut until May 3, when the Indiana Fever — which selected her as the first overall draft pick last week — play their first preseason game in Texas.

Who was chosen in the WNBA Draft 2024? ›

Caitlin Clark headlined the first round of the 2024 WNBA Draft, but two other rebuilding teams found their frontcourts of the future. Chicago paired SEC rivals Kamilla Cardoso and Angel Reese while Los Angeles brought in defensive and offensive stalwarts Cameron Brink and Rickea Jackson.

How much do WNBA draft picks get paid? ›

The second, third and fourth picks in this year's draft will also earn $76,535 their first year, according to the league's collective bargaining agreement. The base annual pay for all four athletes will see only a modest rise over the next few years — $78,066 in 2025, $85,873 in 2026 and $97,582 in 2027.

Will Caitlin Clark be the #1 pick? ›

Caitlin Clark poses with WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert after she is selected with the No. 1 overall pick to the Indiana Fever. Few things in professional sports have ever been as certain as Caitlin Clark being selected as the No. 1 overall in the 2024 WNBA draft.

What does Caitlin Clarks dad do? ›

Brent Clark, Caitlin's father, works in sales at Concentric International. He was a multi-sport high school athlete and played basketball and baseball in college. Anne Nizzi-Clark, Caitlin's mother, graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with an English degree.

Is Angel Reese in the 2024 WNBA Draft? ›

CHICAGO (April 15, 2024) — The Chicago Sky announced today that they have selected Angel Reese from Louisiana State University with the 7th overall pick in the first round of the 2024 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm, airing this evening on ESPN.

How much will Caitlin Clark make in WNBA? ›

Caitlin Clark can earn up to $500,000 during her rookie season, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert has claimed in an effort to quell outrage on the No. 1 draft choice's low base salary. The former Iowa star will make just $76,535 in base salary from the Indiana Fever, part of a four-year, $338,056 deal with the team.

Who is the highest paid WNBA player? ›

In terms of average salary ranking, Las Vegas Aces star Jackie Young is alone at the top, making $252,420 a year going into 2024.

How many viewers watched the WNBA draft? ›

The draft drew about 2.45 million viewers on ESPN on Monday, which made it by far the most-watched WNBA Draft of all time, the network announced on Tuesday night. The previous record was set back in 2004 when Diana Taurasi was first selected, but that draft drew just more than 600,000 viewers.

How many watched the WNBA draft? ›

You tuned in for Monday's 2024 WNBA Draft. Boy, did you ever. Monday's draft, featuring Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, Cameron Brink and a ton of other star college basketball players, averaged a record 2.446 million viewers, a head-spinning 307 percent increase in viewership over last year.

How many people watched the WNBA draft 2024? ›

The 2024 draft drew 2.45 million viewers on ESPN Monday night and peaked at 3.09 million. It was the most-viewed WNBA draft ever and the most-viewed WNBA event on ESPN platforms.

How many people watch the WNBA draft? ›

Women's sports, particularly women's basketball, continues to grow. So do the viewership numbers. A record 2.45 million viewers tuned in to the 2024 WNBA draft on ESPN to witness the Indiana Fever select Caitlin Clark with the first overall pick on Monday, demolishing the previous record.


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