At the top
Tennessee forward Candace Parker, above right, and LSU center Sylvia Fowles — both seen as potential No. 1 picks had they gone in separate drafts — are widely expected to be the top two picks, with Parker going first to the Los Angeles Sparks then Fowles to the Chicago Sky.
The Sparks struggled to a league-worst 10-24 record last season as Lisa Leslie took a year off for maternity leave. Chicago, entering its third season in the league, was 14-20 last season, with Tampa's Candice Dupree leading the team with 16.5 points per game.
Win right away
Of the top picks, the player most likely to win right away is the fourth pick, which goes to the Detroit Shock, the league's 2006 champs and last year's runnersup. Detroit traded star Swin Cash, right, to Seattle for the fourth pick, and coach Bill Laimbeer is committed to taking one of three guards: Stanford's Candice Wiggins, Rutgers' Matee Ajavon or Tennessee's Alexis Hornbuckle.
Stars in pairs
Expect at least three pairs of teammates to go in the first round as college's traditional powers continue to supply the league's best talents. Tennessee's Parker and Hornbuckle could both go in the top five (center Nicky Anosike could be a third first-rounder) while Maryland's Crystal Langhorne and Laura Harper should go in the top 14. The same is true for Rutgers' Ajavon and Essence Carson, and North Carolina's frontcourt of Erlana Larkins and LaToya Pringle.
The Tampa Bay area has provided a first-round pick in each of the past two drafts, with Wharton grad Dupree, top right, in 2006 and Hernando graduate Bernice Mosby, bottom right, last spring. There are no players from state schools among the 20 players invited to Palm Harbor, and of the 104 players in WNBA.com's prospect database, there are only two: Florida forward Depree Bowden (from Bradenton) and Miami guard Maurita Reid.
Several potential first-round picks have state ties — Fowles is from Miami, Larkins is from Riviera Beach and LSU guard Erica White is from Jacksonville. Perhaps the best name in the draft, Temple's Lady Comfort, is from Pensacola.
The WNBA's expansion franchise, the Atlanta Dream, has the eighth pick, with former FSU coach Marynell Meadors as the team's coach and GM.
This time, she'll sign
Sacramento has a bonus pick at the end of the draft, awarded after the Monarchs took West Virginia's Meg Bulger last season. Bulger was incorrectly included in the draft pool as a senior when she had said she was returning to West Virginia after missing last season with a knee injury. She's expected to be drafted again today.
Greg Auman, Times staff writer