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WNBA Draft a Major Moment in League’s Growth Trajectory

  • The WNBA Draft will see Aliyah Boston and other college stars join the growing league.
  • Eligibility rules prevent college stars such as Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese from entering.
South Carolina Gamecocks forward Aliyah Boston (4) drives to the basket against the Maryland Terrapins during the second half at the NCAA Women's Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
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The WNBA arrives on the coattails of a thrilling women’s March Madness — but its eligibility rules won’t allow the league to extend the tournament’s most popular narratives.

The Indiana Fever hold the first pick in tonight’s WNBA Draft and are expected to pick South Carolina superstar Aliyah Boston. But in many ways, the draft will be equally notable for the stars who won’t be there: Iowa’s Caitlin Clark and LSU’s Angel Reese aren’t eligible and will be returning to school.

Unlike the NBA — which allows players who will be at least 19 during the draft’s calendar year to enter — the WNBA requires players to be at least 22 or set to graduate from a four-year institution.

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Salaries for rookie players are predetermined by draft position. 

  • The top four picks receive $72,141 each in their first years.
  • Nos. 5-8 earn $69,224.
  • The final four in the 12-pick first round earn $66,306.
  • All players selected in the second round earn $63,389.
  • Third-round and undrafted players earn $60,471 as rookies.

Asked on the Front Office Sports Today podcast what the biggest steps were to grow the league, New York Liberty star Sabrina Ionescu insisted on the importance of a smoother pipeline from college to the pros.

“Paying players more, more teams. There are only 12 teams … there needs to be expansion, and the opportunity for more players coming out of college to play at the professional level.”

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