WNBA head coach, ESPN analyst have high praise for Doyle ahead of WNBA Draft

With the WNBA Draft on Friday, coaches from around the league held a teleconference Monday to discuss several prospects, including Kathleen Doyle.


Katina Zentz

Iowa guard Kathleen Doyle shouts out a play directions during the Iowa vs. Ohio State Women's Big Ten Tournament game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Friday, March 6, 2020. The Buckeyes defeated the Hawkeyes 87-66.

Isaac Goffin, Sports Reporter

The WNBA held a national media teleconference Monday for its upcoming draft, which is at 6 p.m. Friday on ESPN. One of the many players that was discussed was Iowa’s Kathleen Doyle.

Doyle is projected by many outlets to go in the middle of the second round or potentially early in the third round of the draft. She has been projected to go to either the Minnesota Lynx, Phoenix Mercury, or Chicago Sky, depending on the mock draft.

The competitiveness and excitement that Doyle showed Hawkeye fans has resonated with the WNBA community, which could make a difference in where she gets drafted and impact her chances of making a roster.

“People love the way she plays,” ESPN women’s basketball analyst Holly Rowe said. “Love her fire. Her mentality, her toughness, her grittiness. Those are all the things that are spoken about even before her skills on the basketball court. She’s a great passer and can shoot the basketball.”

Rowe added that sometimes the best attitude is to be the 12th man, meaning a player shouldn’t be upset without playing time but always be ready to play when on the court. Rowe said she believes Doyle’s style will help her make a roster, which isn’t a guarantee because of where she’s projected to be drafted.

RELATED: Hawkeye star Kathleen Doyle looks ahead to WNBA after early end to Iowa career

Rebecca Lobo, the other ESPN Women’s Basketball Analyst on the call, said it’s very difficult to make a WNBA roster, especially as a second or third-round pick. Though each team does have 12 roster spots, she said that some teams may only have 11 roster spots at the start of the season due to salary cap restrictions.

Lobo also said the team’s roster experience will be impacted if a second or third-round pick makes a team. She offered the New York Liberty — who have the first pick in the draft — as a younger team who will have more roster spots open, unlike the veteran rosters of the Washington Mystics and the Seattle Storm who will have less roster spots open.

After the analyst finished their thoughts on the draft, select head coaches from the league were on the call, including the Lynx’s Cheryl Reeve.

“I think Doyle had a great senior year,” Reeve said. “When you look at Megan Gustafson getting a lot of the shine the last few years, Kathleen Doyle was exactly what that program needed and for her to be able to show what she can do and carry her team to a high level of success once again at Iowa. It’s a credit to her.

“Certainly, can see her getting an opportunity in the second round, that seems appropriate. From there it’s just about opportunity and fit.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down collegiate and professional sports competition, the WNBA Draft on Friday will be the only major sporting event at that time. It will be conducted virtually with WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert calling the picks live.

Even with the unfortunate circumstances, the analysts on ESPN are excited that the WNBA will have its time in the spotlight come Friday night. Guard Sabrina Ionescu from Oregon is projected to be selected No. 1 overall by several outlets.

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