Campus Connections: Schools That Have Produced the Most WNBA Draft Picks - WNBA (2024)

Brian Martin/WNBA Staff

This article has been edited and revised to include the 2022 and 2023 WNBA seasons.

Which collegiate program has produced the most players drafted into the WNBA over the league’s first 27 years? What about first-round picks? What about No. 1 overall picks? What about players who went on to become league MVPs? How about Finals MVPs?

If you ever see any of those trivia questions, don’t worry. We have the answers to all of them and more!

Schools that have produced the most overall WNBA Draft picks

Campus Connections: Schools That Have Produced the Most WNBA Draft Picks - WNBA (1)

The two schools at the top of this list should come as no surprise as they have been the preeminent collegiate programs over the 27-year history of the WNBA – the University of Connecticut and the University of Tennessee each with over 40 players drafted into the WNBA.

Geno Auriemma has been at the helm at UConn for the entirety of the WNBA’s existence, beginning his tenure in 1985 and leading the Huskies to 11 NCAA championships. The Connecticut program has produced some of the best players in WNBA history, highlighted by No. 1 overall draft picks Sue Bird (2002), Diana Taurasi (2004), Tina Charles (2010), Maya Moore (2011) and Breanna Stewart (2016).

The late Pat Summitt led Tennessee until 2012, winning eight national championships and sending plenty of Lady Volunteers to the WNBA. Of the 43 WNBA players drafted out of Tennessee, 29 came during Summitt’s tenure, including a pair of No. 1 overall picks in Chamique Holdsclaw (1999) and Candace Parker (2008).

Below is the list of the top 10 schools (and one country) that have sent the most players to the WNBA via the draft (excluding the 1997 WNBA Elite Draft.)

  • UConn: 45 players
  • Tennessee: 43 players
  • Stanford: 30 players
  • Duke: 26 players
  • Baylor: 24 players
  • Georgia: 24 players
  • Australia: 22 players
  • Maryland: 21 players
  • UNC: 21 players
  • Rutgers: 21 players
  • Notre Dame: 20 players

Schools producing the most first-round draft picks

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When looking at schools that have delivered the most first-round draft picks, there’s a change from the list of most overall draft picks.

UConn remains in first place, and Stanford and Tennesse swap positions for second and third place, respectively. South Carolina enters the conversation after touting three players in the first round of the 2023 WNBA Draft, bringing their total to 12 to round out the top four. Duke and Baylor are tied for fifth place with 11 players.

  • Connecticut: 26 players (last in 2023 – Lou Lopez Sénéchal, No. 5, DAL)
  • Tennessee: 20 players (last in 2023 – Jordan Horston, No. 9, SEA)
  • Stanford: 14 players (last in 2023 – Haley Jones, No. 6, ATL)
  • South Carolina: 12 players (last in 2023 – Aliyah Boston, No. 1, IND, Laeticia Amihere, No. 8, ATL, Zia Cooke, No. 10, LAS)
  • Duke: 11 players (last in 2018 – Lexie Brown, No. 9, CON)
  • Baylor: 11 players (last in 2022 – Queen Egbo, No. 10, IND)

Schools producing the most No. 1 overall picks

Campus Connections: Schools That Have Produced the Most WNBA Draft Picks - WNBA (3)

UConn holds a commanding lead with its own starting five of first-overall picks. South Carolina joins Notre Dame, Stanford, and Tennessee, with two players going first overall and holding a four-way tie for second place.

UConn5Sue Bird
Diana Taurasi
Tina Charles
Maya Moore
Breanna Stewart
South Carolina2Aliyah Boston
A’ja Wilson
Las Vegas
Notre Dame2Jewell Loyd
Jackie Young
Las Vegas
Stanford2Nneka Ogwumike
Chiney Ogwumike
Los Angeles
Tennessee2Chamique Holdsclaw
Candace Parker
Los Angeles

Schools with multiple players selected in the first round

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Back to trivia time. What was the only occasion in which a school had three players taken with the first three overall picks (1-2-3) in the WNBA Draft?

The answer is the 2016 Draft when UConn teammates Breanna Stewart (No. 1, Seattle), Moriah Jefferson (No. 2, San Antonio), and Morgan Tuck (No. 3, Connecticut) were the first three names called to the stage that night.

There have been four occasions in which the first two players selected came from the same school:

  • USC (1997): Tina Thompson (1 / Houston), Pam McGee (2 / Sacramento)
  • UConn (2002): Sue Bird (1 / Seattle), Swin Cash (2 / Detroit)
  • UConn (2016): Breanna Stewart (1 / Seattle), Moriah Jefferson (2 / San Antonio)
  • Oregon (2020): Sabrina Ionescu (1 / New York), Satou Sabally (2 / Dallas)

Only one time has a school produced four first-round picks in a single draft. Once again, the honor goes to UConn, this time back in 2002 when Sue Bird led four Huskies selected with the first six picks in the draft – Bird (No. 1, Seattle), Swin Cash (No. 2, Detroit), Asjha Jones (No. 4, Washington) and Tamika Williams (No. 6, Minnesota).

Seven schools and one country have seen three players selected in the first round of a single WNBA Draft. UConn and South Carolina have seen three players drafted in the first round twice.

  • South Carolina:
    • (2023) Aliyah Boston (No. 1, Indiana), Laeticia Amihere (No. 8, Atlanta), Zia Cooke (No. 11, Los Angeles)
    • (2017) Alaina Coates (No. 2, Chicago), Allisha Davis (No. 4, Dallas), Kaela Davis (No. 10, Dallas)
  • Oregon (2020): Sabrina Ionescu (No. 1, New York), Satou Sabally (No. 2, Dallas), Ruthy Hebard (No. 8, Chicago)
  • Notre Dame (2019): Jackie Young (No. 1, Las Vegas), Arike Ogunbowale (No. 5, Dallas), Brianna Turner (No. 11, Atlanta)
  • UConn:
    • (2018): Gabby Williams (No. 4, Chicago), Azurá Stevens (No. 6, Dallas), Kia Nurse (No. 10, New York)
    • (2016): Breanna Stewart (No. 1, Seattle), Moriah Jefferson (No. 2, San Antonio), Morgan Tuck (No. 3, Connecticut)
  • Tennessee (2012): Shekinna Stricklen (No. 2, Seattle), Glory Johnson (No. 4, Tulsa), Kelly Cain (No. 7, New York)
  • Oklahoma (2002): Stacey Dales-Schuman (No. 3, Washington), LaNeishea Caufield (No. 14, Utah), Rosalind Ross (No. 16, Los Angeles)
  • Australia (2001): Lauren Jackson (No. 1, Seattle), Penny Taylor (No. 11, Cleveland), Kristen Veal (No. 13, Phoenix)
  • Georgia (2001): Kelly Miller (No. 2, Charlotte), Deanna Nolan (No. 6, Detroit), Coco Miller (No. 9, Washington)

The NCAA Title / No. 1 WNBA Pick Double

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With the WNBA Draft being held just days after the conclusion of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, prospects have a chance to pull off an incredible double – finish their collegiate career by winning the NCAA national championship, then begin their professional career as the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA Draft.

That feat has been accomplished five times in WNBA history, most recently by Breanna Stewart, who won her fourth collegiate championship at Connecticut on April 5, 2016, and was drafted first overall by the Seattle Storm just 11 days later.

  • Sue Bird (UConn, 2002) – drafted first overall by Seattle
  • Diana Taurasi (UConn, 2004) – drafted first overall by Phoenix
  • Candace Parker (Tennessee, 2008) – drafted first overall by Los Angeles
  • Tina Charles (UConn, 2010) – drafted first overall by Connecticut
  • Breanna Stewart (UConn, 2016) – drafted first overall by Seattle

Schools that have produced the most WNBA league MVPs

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Three schools have produced multiple players to win the WNBA League Most Valuable Player honors. Connecticut leads the way with four players winning MVP, but UConn and USC are tied with 5 total MVP awards.

  • USC: 2 players, 5 MVPs – Cynthia Cooper (1997, 1998), Lisa Leslie (2001, 2004, 2006)
  • Connecticut: 4 players, 5 MVPs – Diana Taurasi (2009), Tina Charles (2012), Maya Moore (2014), Breanna Stewart (2018, 2023)
  • Tennessee: 2 players, 3 MVPs – Candace Parker (2008, 2013), Tamika Catchings (2011)

Schools that have produced the most WNBA Finals MVPs

Campus Connections: Schools That Have Produced the Most WNBA Draft Picks - WNBA (7)

USC, UConn, and Tennessee are all represented on this list of MVPs as well, but they get some company from LSU and Rutgers, who each produced a pair of Finals MVPs. USC holds the mark for the most Finals MVPs as Cynthia Cooper (1997-2000) and Lisa Leslie (2001-02) combined to win the first six in WNBA history.

  • USC: 2 players, 6 Finals MVPs – Cynthia Cooper (1997-2000), Lisa Leslie (2001-02)
  • Connecticut: 3 players, 5 Finals MVPs – Diana Taurasi (2009, 2014), Maya Moore (2013), Breanna Stewart (2018, 2020)
  • LSU: 2 players, 3 Finals MVPs – Seimone Augustus (2011), Sylvia Fowles (2015, 2017)
  • Tennessee: 2 players, 2 Finals MVPs – Tamika Catchings (2012), Candace Parker (2016)
  • Rutgers: 2 players, 2 Finals MVPs – Cappie Pondexter (2007), Kahleah Copper (2021)

Longtime WNBA reporter Brian Martin writes articles on throughout the season. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the WNBA or its clubs.

Campus Connections: Schools That Have Produced the Most WNBA Draft Picks - WNBA (2024)
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