USC Women's Basketball

Gamecocks’ Tiffany Mitchell to learn pro fate in WNBA draft

Senior Tiffany Mitchell signs autographs
Senior Tiffany Mitchell signs autographs

Everything she’s worked for for the past four seasons will pay off Thursday night.

Two-time SEC Player of the Year and three-time All-American Tiffany Mitchell’s name will be called by the WNBA during Thursday night’s draft. Mitchell, along with a handful of other prospects, will be at Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Arena as they begin their professional careers.

“Coach (Dawn) Staley has been one of the main people that’s been helping me with this process and just becoming a pro and thinking like a pro now,” Mitchell said last week. “And we talked to agents together, we talked to teams together, so she’s definitely helped me get the right mindset.”

Staley, one of the faces of the WNBA in its history, guided Mitchell through the pre-draft process. It’s giving back to a player that watched Staley as a child, and committed to her as soon as an offer was presented.

Mitchell was one of the linchpins in South Carolina’s rise to prominence and she’ll have the chance to stay stateside for her professional career. She’s talked to a couple of teams already (Washington and Indiana) and at least one analyst, Carolyn Peck, feels Mitchell could be selected within the top five picks.

“(Dallas coach) Fred Williams has got some options there, depending on what Connecticut does, and you could look at a player like a Tiffany Mitchell,” Peck said, discussing the Wings’ No. 5 selection. “(Mitchell) is athletic, and he likes defensive guards who can score and that she could definitely bring.”

Mitchell has been working on her game since the Gamecocks’ season ended in a shocking upset to Syracuse in the Sweet 16, and also taking some time to enjoy the final steps of college with “retail therapy” at the mall. She’s tried not to obsess over where she might be picked.

She knows like the rest of the country that three of the top four selections will be Connecticut’s trio of Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck – and she also knows that even draft picks aren’t guaranteed roster spots.

WNBA teams don’t have a lot of available spaces with such a limited number of teams, meaning the three-round draft will have many players who won’t stick with the teams that choose them. That’s what happened last year to former Gamecock Aleighsa Welch, who was selected by Chicago with the 10th pick of the second round.

Welch was drafted on April 16 and released on May 20. She played professionally in Portugal last year.

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When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn.

TV: ESPN2 (Round 1), ESPNU (Rounds 2 and 3)