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South Carolina center Kamilla Cardoso (10) drives around Iowa forward Addison O’Grady during the first half of the Final Four college basketball championship game in the women’s NCAA Tournament, Sunday, April 7, 2024, in Cleveland.

Morry Gash

Kamilla Cardoso and Angel Reese could end up in Sky uniforms this season

Gather ’round, women’s basketball fans; the time has come to bask in the results of proper investment combined with superstars.

Over the last four years, a crop of talented college players — dialed into branding and social media — emerged. These stars attracted record-setting audiences and were among the top NIL earners.

Now they’re in full bloom, coming off the most-watched women’s Final Four on record with an average viewership of 13.8 million. And it’s time for this new generation of talent to be selected in the WNBA Draft.

The last 10 draft classes were loaded with league-shifting talents such as Jewell Loyd, Breanna Stewart, A’ja Wilson and, most recently, Aliyah Boston. None of those classes, however, received as much hype and attention as the 2024 class, led by expected No. 1 overall pick Caitlin Clark.

“It’s an amazing draft class and puts all of us in a tremendous thought process,” first-year Sky coach Teresa Weatherspoon said. “It’s great to know the depth and the great level of talent that’s coming out and how our game is going to be elevated to another level.”

Beyond Clark, who will be selected by the Indiana Fever, this year’s class includes Stanford forward Cameron Brink, South Carolina center Kamilla Cardoso, Tennessee swing player Rickea Jackson, UConn forward Aaliyah Edwards and LSU forward Angel Reese.

The Sky own the No. 3 and No. 8 overall picks, a result of some costly dealmaking by first-year general manager Jeff Pagliocca.

Coming into the job, Pagliocca had to regain much-needed draft capital that former coach/GM James Wade traded away. The No. 3 pick came as a result of a trade request by former franchise player Kahleah Copper. The No. 8 pick was acquired in a trade with the Sparks for guard Julie Allemand and the rights to center Li Yueru.

The Sky also own the first pick in the second round (13th overall), which was acquired when Wade traded for guard Marina Mabrey last year.

The Sky’s roster doesn’t have any glaring holes that need to be filled. The issue is the lack of a league-shifting star. Dana Evans is still striving for a consistent starting role with the Sky, 2019 All-Star Diamond DeShields is returning from injury and 2017 All-Star Elizabeth Williams struggled last season to find consistency on offense.

Looking ahead to the Sky’s 2025 roster and who will still be under contract paints a clearer picture of whom the Sky will be targeting with the No. 3 pick.

The entire frontcourt will become unrestricted free agents in the new year, which is the first indication that they’ll select Cardoso with the No. 3 pick.

Cardoso has the potential to be a transformative talent in the WNBA with her height — she’s 6-7 — coupled with her ability to get into scoring position, finish at the rim and control the glass. She also can get out in transition and run the floor.

“In looking at our roster, we might want to go in that direction of making sure we stay strong in our post area,” Weatherspoon said. “That could very well change. A wrench can be thrown in at any second, and we will be prepared for it.”

Jackson has arguably the most pro-ready game among the projected top five picks, given her ability to create her own shots and score from anywhere on the floor. When considering Copper’s departure, Jackson appears to be an even greater fit for the Sky. Cardoso’s upside, however, could end up paying dividends — a player with her combination of height and agility doesn’t come around often.

The No. 8 overall pick is where the Sky could make the biggest splash, maybe not in terms of impact but in terms of star power.

Reese is projected to be available late in the first round. Questions surround how her game will translate to the next level, specifically on offense. Her overall impact, however, is what sets her apart.

Reese is relentless on defense and has controlled games with her rebounding. If she’s still available at No. 8, it’s likely that she’ll end up joining Cardoso in Chicago.

The 13th pick will come down to Pagliocca deciding to sign any of the team’s training-camp players. If the Sky sign even one training-camp player in addition to their three rookies, they would be above the league max of 12 players per roster. The Sky have three players aside from their training-camp players who are on unprotected contracts: DeShields, Lindsay Allen and Sika Kone.

It’s likely that the Sky sign one of their training-camp players. So for the 13th pick, they could do a draft-and-stash with an overseas player. The Sky would own the player’s rights, but their cap space and roster wouldn’t be affected until the player was signed.

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