WNBA Draft preview: Aari McDonald was told she “can have an instant impact”


Arizona Wildcats guard Aari McDonald (2) handles the ball against the UCLA Bruins during an NCAA basketball game on Friday, Dec. 4, 2020 in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Jennifer Stewart)

The Arizona Wildcats have never had a first-round pick in the WNBA Draft. Chances are they will not be saying that after Thursday, as Aari McDonald is expected to not only be a first-round pick, she is projected to be a top-five pick.

McDonald, however, told the Arizona Daily Star she is not thinking about that right now because she is catching up on schoolwork. Arizona made a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, so McDonald’s focus for a few extra weeks was on basketball.

As it will be on Thursday for the WNBA Draft.

“Everyone said that I can be a valuable player on their team,” McDonald told the Arizona Daily Star. “I can have an instant impact. They (have) all been telling me that everything I’ve done that has gotten me this far, just keep doing that when I get to the league. Don’t change who I am as a player.”

McDonald will be watching the draft from Fresno, her hometown. This season, she led Arizona to its first-ever appearance in the national championship game. She also led the Pac-12 in both scoring and steals for the third year in a row.

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