2018 WNBA Draft (April 12, 2018)

Following another subpar season for the Stars (8-26), the franchise relocated from San Antonio to Las Vegas in the fall of 2017, and on November 13, the franchise was awarded the No. 1 pick in the draft for the second-straight year by virtue of winning the Draft Lottery.

The first overall pick was a no-brainer, and the newly-named Las Vegas Aces selected South Carolina forward and consensus national player of the year A’ja Wilson. Wilson scored in double figures in each of her 33 games as a rookie, and was named WNBA Rookie of the Month in June, July and August. She finished the year breaking dozens of franchise records, averaging 20.7 points and 8.0 rebounds, and winning the Rookie of the Year Award.

Wilson has been named an All-Star five times (2018, 2019, 2021, 2022, 2023), the league’s defensive player of the year two times (2022, 2023) and the WNBA’s most valuable player on two occasions (2020, 2022). The four-time All-WNBA honoree has also led the Aces two two WNBA Championship (2022, 2023). She also tied the single-game scoring record, pouring in 53 points against Atlanta on August 22, 2023.

With the team’s first pick in the second round, the Aces chose Tennessee’s Jaime Nared. Nared was famously kicked off of a boy’s basketball team as a pre-teen for being too good (story). She played in 31 of 33 games for Las Vegas as a rookie, averaging 2.5 points and 1.5 rebounds.

With the 25th pick in the draft, Las Vegas took Raigyne (Moncrief) Louis from LSU. An All-SEC first team selection as a senior and 2017 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Louis finished her collegiate career with averages of 13.3 points and 5.8 rebounds. She played in the first two regular season games for the Aces in 2018, but was waived when guards Kelsey Plum and Kayla McBride returned from playing overseas.

With the 32nd pick, the Aces selected Jill Barta from Gonzaga. Barta averaged 18.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game in 2017-18. At the conclusion of the draft, the Aces traded the rights to Barta, along with the Las Vegas’ second round pick in 2019, to Minnesota in exchange for JiSu Park, whom the Lynx took with the 17th pick in the draft, and Kahlia Lawrence from Mercer, whom the Lynx selected with the 24th pick.

Park was a 19-year-old South Korean center who played most recently with the KB Stars in Seoul prior to being drafted. She played in 32 games for Las Vegas as a rookie, averaging 2.8 points and 3.3 rebounds, while finishing second on the team in blocked shots with 20. Park went on to play in the 2019 and 2021 seasons for the Aces, finishing her time in Las Vegas with career averages of 1.9 points and 2.2 rebounds.

Lawrence led Mercer to the Southern Conference Tournament title in 2018, scoring 29 points in the championship game. She was also named the Southern Conference Player of the Year. Las Vegas waived Lawrence during training camp on May 9, 2018.

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