In the past two WNBA Drafts, the Minnesota Lynx have found gems in back-to-back WNBA Rookies of the Year Napheesa Collier (2019) and Crystal Dangerfield (2020). This year they may have found themselves with yet another steal after selecting a player many thought would go higher in the first round.
On Thursday, Minnesota used the No. 9 pick to select Rennia Davis out of Tennessee.
“Being flexible is exactly what it came down to. … We wanted to make sure we were taking the best player available. That’s exactly what came to fruition,” Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve said after the draft. “(Davis) is one of those players that can play more than one position. She can play the (power forward), she can play the (small forward). … I think Rennia just needs to come in keep things simple and do things she’s good at.”
Davis, 21, is the fourth player out of Tennessee drafted by the Lynx, joining Tonya Edwards (1999), Nicky Anosike (2008), and Bashaara Graves (2016). Davis played a total of 118 games for the Lady Vols, tallying career averages of 15.4 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 assists. During her senior season in 2020-21, she averaged 17.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in 24 games.
“Being picked ninth, it’s definitely a blessing, but I’m going to use it as motivation,” Davis said after the draft. “I was thinking I would go higher. … I always find something to motivate me no matter how big or small it is.”
Entering Thursday’s draft, Davis was projected to go in the top five or at least in the top half of the opening round. Minnesota saw her slide all the way down to the ninth selection and acted quickly to swoop her up. Reeve added that the Lynx had a trade in place for the No. 9 pick coming into draft night, but they quickly realized that that transaction probably wouldn’t happen once players starting coming off the board.
“We didn’t have a mock scenario that had Rennia Davis there at No. 9,” Reeve said. “Two of our top players ranked were there at nine, with Rennia being one of them. … We didn’t target her, because we didn’t think she’d be there. We had her ranked at No. 2.
“This was a really interesting draft.”
The 6’2″ forward leaves Tennessee as one of four players in program history to rank in the top 10 in points, rebounds, and rebounds per game, joining Chamique Holdsclaw, Candace Parker, and Tamika Catchings.
Davis, who said Minnesota was her favorite team growing up during the franchise’s dynasty run, is a player who could provide the Lynx with some additional depth at the wing position if she indeed manages to make her way onto the final roster when the regular season begins. The versatile forward is a solid scorer and defender, although one area of her game that needs some work is her ability to shoot from deep and hurt opposing defenses from behind the arc.
“I was surprised (to be selected at No. 9), but definitely grateful,” Davis said. “I’m just trying to set into any role they put me in. I’m just ready to get there and get to work.”
Like plenty others selected in Thursday’s draft, Davis’ game still needs some work. Of course, the Lynx hope they continue their streak of drafting players who make an immediate impact.
“I’ve never been in a position throughout my basketball career where I’ve been able to soak it all in and be around a group of vets who are willing to teach me and willing to let me learn,” Davis said. “I’ve always been thrown into the fire, so this will be a totally different situation for me. I’m just going to sit back and observe and soak it all in, really.”
Lynx Sign HBCU Alumna Asheika Alexander
Shortly after the draft concluded on Thursday, the Lynx also announced they had signed forward Asheika Alexander to a training camp roster spot. Alexander, from Langston University, becomes the first player signed by the Lynx who attended an HBCU, according to Elias Sports.
“I told our group that I wanted to make sure an HBCU player was a part of our team this year,” Reeve said. “We really felt like we wanted to give an opportunity to a really good basketball player.”
In two seasons at Langston, Alexander averaged 21 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.2 steals, and 1.8 assists per game in 42 total contests. During her senior season, she averaged 21.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.0 blocks per game.
FULL WNBA DRAFT RESULTS
- Dallas Wings — Charli Collier, Texas
- Dallas Wings — Awak Kuier, Finland
- Atlanta Dream — Aari McDonald, Arizona
- Indiana Fever — Kysre Gondrezick, West Virginia
- Dallas Wings — Chelsea Dungee, Arkansas
- New York Liberty — Michaela Onyenwere, UCLA
- Los Angeles Sparks — Jasmine Walker, Alabama
- Chicago Sky — Shyla Heal, Australia
- Minnesota Lynx — Rennia Davis, Tennessee
- Los Angeles Sparks — Stephanie Watts, USC
- Seattle Storm — Aaliyah Wilson, Texas A&M
- Las Vegas Aces — Iliana Rupert, France
- Dallas Wings — Dana Evans, Louisville
- Las Vegas Aces — Destiny Slocum, Arkansas
- Atlanta Dream — Raquel Carrera, Spain
- Chicago Sky — Natasha Mack, Oklahoma State
- New York Liberty — DiDi Richards, Baylor
- Seattle Storm — Kiana Williams, Stanford
- Indiana Fever — Unique Thompson, Auburn
- Connecticut Sun — DiJonai Carrington, Baylor
- Connecticut Sun — Micaela Kelly, Central Michigan
- Los Angeles Sparks — Arella Guirantes, Rutgers
- Seattle Storm — N’dea Jones, Texas A&M
- Indiana Fever — Trinity Baptiste, Arizona
- New York Liberty — Valeria Higgins, Pacific
- Indiana Fever — Chelsey Perry, Tennesse at Martin
- Atlanta Dream — Lindsey Pulliam, Northwestern
- Los Angeles Sparks — Ivana Raca, Wake Forest
- New York Liberty — Marine Fauthoux, France
- Connecticut Sun — Aleah Goodman, Oregon State
- Indiana Fever — Florencia Chagas, Argentina
- Phoenix Mercury — Ciera Johnson, Texas A&M
- Indiana Fever — Maya Caldwell, Georgia
- Los Angeles Sparks — Aina Ayuso, Spain
- Seattle Storm — Natalie Kucowski, Lafayette
- Las Vegas Aces — Kionna Jeter, Towson