South Carolina women's basketball: Kamilla Cardoso will learn her WNBA future Monday night

On3 imageby:Chris Wellbaum04/15/24


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South Carolina post Kamilla Cardoso is expected to be selected early in the WNBA Draft Monday night.

Cardoso had an optional Covid year of college eligibility remaining, but she announced on April 1 on social media that she would forgo her optional season and enter the WNBA Draft. She met with Dawn Staley that afternoon and they agreed she was ready to turn pro.

“Yeah, just talking to Coach Staley, she’s telling me I think you are ready,” Cardoso said. “It made me have more confidence making my decision. Like okay, she thinks I’m ready. She’s the best in the business. So if she’s telling me I’m ready, she knows I’m ready.”

“I had one discussion with Kamilla about it, and it was (Monday). So I met with her (Monday) in the afternoon and she told me that’s what she decided to do. There was no trying to get her to come back. We’ve been through this with a lot of our players. I want to walk them to the next level,” Staley said. “When they’re prepared, when I feel like they have done enough on this level and the only thing that can help them is being on that level. Kamilla’s in that position. She’s been in our program for three years now. She played a role for us in the first two, and now she plays the focal point. Anytime you play the focal point in our program, it expedites your ability to be able to make the jump to the WNBA. And I do feel like her making the jump will only mean that her best basketball is ahead of her. I mean, there’s so much more to her game that will be had because when you go to the next level and you’re playing with like-minded players, you’ve got no choice but to elevate. And she’ll do that at the next level.”

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Cardoso played her best basketball in the postseason and was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player. She had 22 points and 11 rebounds in just 22 minutes against NC State and then tallied 15 points and a career-high 17 rebounds against Iowa.

Last season Cardoso averaged 14.4 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, and 2.0 assists. She set career-highs for each category except blocks. 

Cardoso played her freshman season at Syracuse before transferring to South Carolina. She was a role player her first two seasons, but emerged as the centerpiece of South Carolina’s offense as a senior. 

The Gamecocks surrounded her with shooters and trusted Cardoso to make reads and pass out of double-teams. As a result, she more than doubled her assists. Cardoso also made her first career three-pointer, a buzzer-beater to down Tennessee in the SEC Tournament semifinals.

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Cardoso skipped Sunday’s WNBA Draft orientation to attend South Carolina’s championship parade, but she is expected to attend the draft Monday evening. 

Cardoso has been considered a likely first-round draft pick since before the season began. As the season went on and she played well, Cardoso rose up mock drafts. She is now projected as the third or fourth pick in almost every mock draft, but her performance in the NCAA Tournament raised her stock even more.

“I think Kamilla is in the conversation for No. 2, especially how she performed over the last month of the season,” said ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo last week. “A lot of people have been talking about her ability to run the floor as a 6-7 post player and her relentlessness in doing it in every single possession. When she demands the basketball, which she did every possession over the course of the last month of the season, she just has to demand extra attention inside.”

Cardoso would be the 19th Gamecock selected in the WNBA Draft and the 15th of the Dawn Staley era.

The WNBA Draft begins at 7:30 ET at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. ESPN will televise the draft.

Cardoso in Mock Drafts
ESPN – #3 Chicago Sky
The Athletic – #4 Los Angeles
Yahoo – #3 Chicago Sky
Bleacher Report – #4 Los Angeles
NBC Sports – #4 Los Angeles
CBS Sports – #3 Chicago Sky
SB Nation – #4 Los Angeles

First Round Draft Order
1. Indiana Fever
2. Los Angeles Sparks
3. Chicago Sky
4. Los Angeles Sparks
5. Dallas Wings
6. Washington Mystics
7. Chicago Sky
8. Minnesota Lynx
9. Dallas Wings
10. Connecticut Sun
11. New York Liberty
12. Atlanta Dream

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