Published April 15. 2013 4:00AM
Conn. picks 11th in WNBA Draft tonight
Mohegan - To think it wasn't so long ago that this draft was veritably irrelevant to the Connecticut Sun, who would return virtually the entire roster from a team that came within a game of the WNBA Finals last season.
The thinking: No player drafted in the Sun's spot - 11th, the second-to-last pick of the first round - would be good enough to make the team.
And now the choice is a necessity.
Asjha Jones' decision to sit out the season and Danielle McCray's subsequent Achilles' injury has left Connecticut with deficiencies in desperate need of fixing. Whether the Sun can do so in tonight's draft (8 p.m., ESPN) is open to debate.
It's fruitless to speculate on whom the Sun might take, although the player(s) would likely play the small forward/power forward positions. Connecticut's backcourt (Kara Lawson, Renee Montgomery, Allison Hightower, Tan White) is a team strength along with returning league MVP Tina Charles at center.
Charles, however, could use the help of a rebounding post and a wing shooter.
Sun vice president and general manager Chris Sienko said last week that forward Sandrine Gruda and guard/forward Alba Torrens would not decide on whether to play here this summer until the conclusion of the European championships on June 30. Torrens is recovering from a knee injury as well.
Coaches on a league conference call last week were in agreement that the draft wouldn't really begin until the fourth pick. After Brittney Griner (likely to Phoenix), Elena Delle Donne (likely to Chicago) and Skylar Diggins (likely to Tulsa), the draft becomes less predictable.
Washington and former Sun coach Mike Thibault owns the No. 4 pick.
Thibault could go with Texas A&M post Kelsey Bone, Maryland post Tianna Hawkins or a number of other players.
UConn's Kelly Faris is also a potential first-round pick.
The Sun and new coach Anne Donovan begin the regular season May 25 at Mohegan Sun Arena against New York, coached by Bill Laimbeer.