Carlie Wagner tried to ignore the WNBA draft projections after her senior season with the Gophers ended last month. But friends and family keep bringing the lists to her attention.
They told Wagner that mock drafts predicted she would be selected in the third round by the Lynx.
It just so happens the native of New Richland, Minn., will be watching the draft at 6 p.m. Thursday with the Lynx and their fans at Target Center.
“It would be any Minnesota girl’s dream to stay home and play for the Lynx,” Wagner said. “I’ve watched them my whole life and have been such a big fan. But you never know what happens with the draft.”
Predicting where Wagner will be drafted or whether she will be drafted at all is difficult. But her growth during four years with the Gophers put her in position to have this opportunity to show she can make it at the next level.
Wagner’s trying to become the first Minnesota native and Gopher to be drafted since former U teammate Rachel Banham went No. 4 overall to the Connecticut Sun in 2016.
The 5-10 Wagner averaged 18.7 points and shot a career-best 41.2 percent from three-point range in her final college season.
She solidified Minnesota’s second NCAA tourney bid in her career by averaging 26.5 points to earn all-Big Ten tournament honors. The Gophers won 24 games and advanced to the NCAA tournament second round for the first time since 2009.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better senior year,” said Wagner, the school’s No. 3 career scorer. “I had great teammates that pushed me along the way. We achieved a lot this year.”
The scouting report on Wagner at Draftsite.com said she’s strong, fast and can score from anywhere on the court. WNBA and college basketball analyst LaChina Robinson said Wagner impressed her offensively.
“She works hard to get open,” Robinson said. “Her work ethic is incredible, and one thing that doesn’t translate from watching film is how physically fit she is. She can play an entire game and not take a possession off.”
Robinson said the biggest challenges for Wagner in the WNBA will be getting her shot off and defending. “But she can come into a game and knock down shots,” Robinson said. “That is always a premium.”
Wagner signed with Eric Wiesel, Banham’s agent. She’s been training at the U’s Athletes Village practice facility with Banham, who is preparing her for what to expect on draft night and beyond.
“Rachel has played a part in this big time,” Wagner said. “She’s been helping me out, giving me advice and has just been there for me to talk to throughout the process. She’s really got me ready for this.”