Reading WNBA pre-draft commentary, it was clear that teams and fans held St. John's duo of Nadirah McKenith and Shenneika Smith in high regard - two talented athletes who were a large part of the rise of St. John's women's hoops. But would they both be drafted? Each had flaws, and with so many players in the country, someone gets overlooked.
But last night, the Red Storm enjoyed a banner evening, as both women were picked in the WNBA draft.
Head coach Joe Tartamella said, "this was an extraordinary night for two of our young ladies, Nadirah and Shenneika, who became the first-ever WNBA draft picks in our program history." Tartamella, who recruited both, added, "I really have a lot of pride that I was able to watch these two young ladies grow up before my eyes. It just shows how special St. John's is and what our players can be capable of as part of our program."
Wows: Love this pick for the Mystics. I had McKenith rated ahead of Bentley or Whyte as a point guard in this draft. And the reason is that she maintained a strong assist ratio despite having to score so much for her team. She has pretty strong potential as a WNBA point guard. And just because this probably won't get talked about much, she rebounds very well for a point guard.
Shenneika Smith was picked at 25 by the New York Liberty, and she gets to stay home. Her defense draws attention, along with her ability to carry the team in scoring. From Swish Appeal:
And what's immediately striking about Smith is her agility and quickness as a 6'1" wing. Along those lines, one sort of subtle thing that stands out for her is that she was second in the conference in blocked shots (2.2 per game) and yet picked up surprisingly few fouls, which reflects pretty good defensive instincts for a perimeter player. She might not be among the elite in terms of steals, but she's definitely a defensive presence.
Congratulations to both players, and here's to a long career. Read more from our women's correspondent Jaden Daly.