The Dream, however, had an idea as they trimmed their list to four prospects Wednesday, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
“(Collen) asked me my strengths and weaknesses,” McDonald said. “I told her my weaknesses, and she said, ‘It doesn’t matter. Keep doing what you’re good at.’”
McDonald followed the choice of star guard Chennedy Carter a year ago, and it gives the Dream a young core in the backcourt to build their team around. Collen said the selection of another ballhandler would be a “security blanket” if the organization were to lose guards Odyssey Sims, Courtney Williams or Tiffany Hayes to free agency in 2022.
Another year, another big-name point guard drafted by the Dream. The Dream’s backcourt for 2021 carries three speed merchants, as McDonald joins two players she thinks of fondly, Carter and Williams.
“I’m really excited to play with them,” McDonald said. “I can’t wait to get to work in practice with those two. They’re dogs.”
The Dream’s selection of McDonald was the first early surprise of the draft. There were many projections that pegged the 5-foot-6 guard at the fifth or sixth pick, but Collen and her staff saw a quality in McDonald that they couldn’t pass up in search of long-term plans.
McDonald erupted while carrying her Arizona team to the NCAA title game in San Antonio. She made her statement with 26 points and seven rebounds in a victory over powerhouse Connecticut in the Final Four, but those performances were nothing new for the Pac-12 Player of the Year. McDonald also had tournament performances of 31 points against Texas A&M and 33 against Indiana.
McDonald averaged 20.6 points and four assists in her senior season at Arizona. Her late surge, however, allowed the California native to climb up draft boards.
Those showings, along with McDonald’s approach to the game, caught Collen’s eye. The Dream sent in the selection to WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert on Thursday evening. Now, the Dream are lovin’ it.
Collen hinted at McDonald as a possibility even when the Dream were in so-called exploratory mode and continued to contact draftees. The team liked McDonald’s “killer instinct,” as her new head coach put it.
The Dream’s questions remain with McDonald’s size and whether she can continue to produce in bunches, but her prowess on defense has been the backbone of the newest Dream player for her entire college career.
The lockdown defense likely serves as a starting point for Collen and her staff to begin development.
“I’m a two-way player, but I put defense above my offensive abilities,” McDonald said. “I want to bring that spark and do whatever I can.”
The Dream’s selection of McDonald followed Dallas’ choices of Texas forward Charli Collier and Finnish post presence Awak Kuier.
The Dream have the 15th and 27th selections, respectively, in the second and third rounds of the draft. A maximum of 12 players can make a roster by the season opener against Connecticut on May 14.