Reflections from the Dallas Wings Draft

Wings GM Bibb offers thoughts on the team's first round

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The Dallas Wings made WNBA history on Friday night. With the second, fifth and seventh overall selections in the 2020 WNBA Draft, Dallas was the first team to ever enter a draft with three of the first seven picks.

So how did Wings President and CEO Greg Bibb approach the first round? And what were his thoughts on each of the team’s three selections? We caught up with him on Saturday to find out.

No. 2 Satou Sabally

Photo credit: Jacob Mox. Original photo courtesy of Oregon Athletics.

“The first thing that comes to mind is versatility,” Bibb said. It’s a versatility that has garnered everything from Elena Delle Donne comparisons to matchup nightmare clichés.

Bibb went on to praise Sabally’s “great size” at 6-foot-4 as well as her inside-out scoring prowess. “She has the ability to play down on the block, but also the range to get out to the three-point line,” he said. Bibb’s point is evident in Sabally’s stats—she made 38% of her threes during her Ducks career and never shot below 50% on post-ups (per Synergy).

Her versatile game goes beyond simply putting the ball in the hoop, however. “She can guard on the perimeter, she’s super athletic, and she handles the ball well for a player her size,” Bibb said. He feels fortunate that Sabally, a junior, left school early for the league, and also to pick second in a year with a generational talent in the draft in Sabally’s college teammate, Sabrina Ionescu. “When Satou entered the draft, it quickly became apparent to us that she was a player we couldn’t pass on,” he said. “In any other draft year, she’s a number one pick.”

In picking a do-it-all forward, Bibb is hoping to give head coach Brian Agler options to work with. “Satou and some of the other players we already have on our roster will give us the opportunity and give Coach Agler and his staff the opportunity to create a lot of different roster scenarios and create a lot of matchup challenges for the opposition.”

No. 5 Bella Alarie

Photo credit: Jacob Mox. Original photo courtesy of Princeton Athletics.

Princeton’s official women’s basketball roster listed Alarie’s position as “G/F” for each of her four seasons there. The three-time Ivy League Player of the Year is most widely recognized as a power forward, but, as with Dallas’ first selection, it’s her small-ball skill set that has Bibb most excited.

“She’s different than Satou, but she’s very similar in the fact that she brings a great versatility to our team,” Bibb said. “She grew late, so she played a lot of guard early in her basketball life, and therefore she has tremendous guard skills and basketball-handling skills.”

Bibb also thinks playing for a mid-major school caused Alarie to slide, and that she may not have been on the board for the fifth pick had she gotten more national exposure. “Probably more so than any team and any player, the lack of an NCAA Tournament hurt Princeton and hurt Bella,” he said. “That worked out for us in the end because it allowed her to fall to five to us, and we think at five she was a great, great steal.”

She may be a steal, but she gets them too. She finished her college career with 127 of them in 106 games. Between that and her 248 blocks, Bibb is looking for Alarie to give the Wings one of Agler’s favorite traits: defense. Bibb called Alarie “the best defensive player on one of the best defensive teams in the country,” alluding to the Tigers’ Division I-leading 47.9 opponent points per game last year.

He sees Alarie’s length as an advantage, and it’s a length he says is even greater than reported. “She’s one of the few players I’ve ever seen who is actually taller than her program listing,” he said. “She’s listed at 6-4 [but] she’s actually 6-5.” It’s an asset he believes will help her play multiple positions. “She enters the league most naturally as a stretch four, but we’ll see … what she can do playing the five and what she can do playing the three.”

No. 7 Tyasha Harris

Photo credit: Jacob Mox. Original photo courtesy of South Carolina Athletics.

Bibb knows that Ty Harris is no stranger to North Texas success with a couple of her new teammates. He remembers that South Carolina came away with a 67-55 win over Mississippi State in the 2017 NCAA title game at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, with a starting lineup that included current Wings Allisha Gray and Kaela Davis, as well as—you guessed it—a freshman Ty Harris. And on a squad that also included future No. 1 pick A’ja Wilson, it was Harris that led the team in minutes with 37.

Harris was the new kid on the block in that starting lineup, but the script flipped last season—the starting five that South Carolina used for every game included three freshmen, with Harris and fellow senior and first-rounder Mikiah Herbert Harrigan as the lone upperclassmen. It’s the leadership Harris displayed in running a rookie-laden offense that Bibb was looking for with the seventh pick. “I don’t think people recognized how young South Carolina was this year because of how good they were,” he said. “I think a lot of that credit goes to Ty being the leader on and off the court.”

Bibb also gives some credit for the Gamecocks’ special season to another point guard—one he thinks left a mark on Harris’ game. “Having four years under the leadership of head coach Dawn Staley, who is arguably one of the best to ever play the point guard position—that certainly helps too.”

Much has been made about the ball-handling load Arike Ogunbowale took on last season, and Bibb is eager to see what she can accomplish with more time at the two-guard spot. “She showed great ability last year to [run the point], but that’s not her natural position, so we’re able to get her off the ball now and allow her to focus a little bit more on scoring the basketball,” he said. “That’s exciting to me considering … how effective she was last year with those added responsibilities.”

The Wings traded for former No. 2 overall pick Moriah Jefferson last May, but Jefferson missed the 2019 season due to an injury. Jefferson’s anticipated return coupled with the February acquisition of Marina Mabrey already gave Dallas the personnel to move Ogunbowale to shooting guard; Bibb believes drafting Harris may have been the final piece to that offseason puzzle. “You think about Moriah, Marina, now Ty Harris … we’ll have a competition in training camp and see how it all falls out,” he said. “I like our options, and I certainly like our depth at point guard a lot more than where we sat at the end of last season.”

Thanks for reading the Her Hoop Stats Newsletter. If you like our work, be sure to check out our stats site, our podcast, and our social media accounts on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. You can also buy Her Hoop Stats gear, such as laptop stickers, mugs, and shirts!

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