Aces

Aces Draft Five to Round Out Roster

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The Las Vegas Aces took some risks in the 2022 WNBA Draft. When you’re one of the better teams in the league, you have that luxury. 

Just before the draft, the Aces traded two 2023 draft picks to Minnesota in return for this year’s eighth and 13th selections. Clearly, they feel this year’s prospects give them a better chance to compete than next year’s, and they’re ready to start winning now. Here’s how their draft night went: 

Round 1, Pick 8 

Mya Hollingshed, Colorado  

The Aces traded up to get this pick, and they pulled off one of the bigger surprises of the night. The 6’3 forward had a solid season at Colorado, putting up 14.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.1 steals and one block. She has no glaring weaknesses to her game; she can protect the rim, and she shoots really well for her size (she shot almost 40% from three last season). The Aces wanted size, versatility, and floor-stretching ability. Hollingshed gives them all of that. 

No mock drafts had her as a first-rounder in this draft. Usually, when a team trades up, they’re trying to grab a top prospect before someone else does. Unless the team had intel that the Sparks or the Fever wanted Hollingshed, they probably could have waited until later in the night. 

What will her role be? It’s hard to tell. But if the Aces really wanted her this bad, it wouldn’t be crazy to see a lot of Hollingshed minutes this season. 

Round 1, Pick 11 

Kierstan Bell, FGCU 

Las Vegas may have taken a risk with their first pick, but they didn’t take any chances with their second. Bell is as sure a thing as you can get this late in the first round. She provided 22.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.8 blocks for the Eagles this year. She is one of the most electric scorers coming out of the draft and plays much larger than her 6’1 frame. For this reason, most mocks had her going earlier in the night. She did have a down shooting year, shooting under 30% from three, and that could be why she fell to the Aces at the end of the first round. 

Still, this pick should be considered a steal for Vegas. Bell can absolutely play in the WNBA and could supply a lot of energy off the bench. She also gives new head coach Becky Hammon a lot of options to work with. 

In her post-draft press conference, she said, “I’m versatile, so I’m not going to play in one position. [Hammon] can move me around and play me in different positions.”

Round 2, Pick 1, 13th Overall 

Khayla Pointer, LSU 

Aces’ president Nikki Fargas is Pointer’s aunt, but Pointer got selected this high on her own merit. A well-rounded player, she averaged 19.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.8 steals this year. At only 5’7, she rebounds really well for her size. She can score from all over the court and can control all aspects of the game.

She brings two important intangibles to the floor: energy and leadership. 

It could be hard for her to break into the Aces’ guard rotation filled with veterans, but don’t be surprised to find Pointer playing a key role at some point this season. 

Round 2, Pick 11, 23rd Overall 

Aisha Sheppard, Virginia Tech 

On a team with multiple ball-dominant stars, what do you need surrounding them? Shooters. Sheppard fills that niche. 

This year, almost 70% of her field goal attempts came from behind the arc, and she made almost 39% of her threes. On a contending team, it will be tough for a late second-rounder to make the opening night roster. But Sheppard is the type of player who doesn’t need to run an offense to be effective. On a team with so much talent, open threes will be available. If Sheppard can prove she can hit them consistently in training camp, she’ll make it tough for the Aces to let her go. 

Round 3, Pick 11, 35th Overall 

Faustine Aifuwa, LSU 

Aifuwa joins fellow LSU Tiger Pointer (and Vargas) in Las Vegas. Her college numbers don’t jump off the page, but the 6’5 center does add depth and size to the Aces’ front court. Aifuwa also scores efficiently, shooting over 50% from the field.

Other Roster News 

After the draft, Las Vegas signed two undrafted rookies: Nancy Mulkey, a 6’9 center out of Washington, and Deja Winters, a 5’10 guard out of Seton Hall. 

The team also released two players from their roster this week: Destiny Slocum and Kalani Brown. Slocum played for the team as a rookie last season. Brown was signed this offseason, after playing for the Sparks and the Dream in the previous two seasons.  

About Jack Levenberg

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