Assessing Aislinn Konig's WNBA Draft Chances

Brett Friedlander

Aislinn Konig's college basketball career finished with a high note, followed by an immediate low when the NCAA tournament was canceled because of the coronavirus crisis only days after the senior guard earned MVP honors leading NC State to its first ACC tournament championship since 1991.

Now, as she prepares to begin her career as a professional, the Wolfpack star is hoping to expeirence another peak moment when the WNBA holds its annual draft on Friday.

Though it's not certain she'll be among the 36 players selected in the three-round draft, former NC State star and current ESPN analyst Debbie Antonelli thinks the current Wolfpack sharpshooter's stands a good chance at hearing her name called.

“I think she’ll get drafted, but I think she’ll struggle to make a roster," Antonelli said. "Anybody in the second or third round is going to struggle to make a roster. The margins are so tight on making a team, especially this year. There’s so much uncertainty about what’s going to happen. The WNBA is still building its rosters for the hope that we’re going to have a season."

Debbie Antonelli
Women's basketball analyst Debbie Antonelli Mark Hoffman/USAToday sports

While it might be an uphill battle for Konig to earn a spot on a team -- assuming the WNBA is able to through with its season, which is schedule to begin on May 14 -- Antonelli said that the 5-foot-10 native of Canada possesses some qualities that could help her beat the odds.  

“Her international credibility brings something to the table. Her ability to shoot the ball and score. The way that she can stretch the floor and her ability to play the point and have a big point who can see over the top of most pick-and-roll defenses, and all the ball screen defenses. I think those help her," Antonelli said. 

"Defensively will be a little bit of an issue, but if you look at just flat out offense -- score, handle, high IQ, played in a fast system where you had to make decisions on the ball. I think all those things are really important.”

Konig averaged a career-high 11.0 points per game in 2019-20, while leading the ACC in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.27) against conference opponents and earn second-team All-ACC recognition.

She became the 34th player in program history to surpass the 1,000 point mark and her career total of 294 three-pointers places her second on State's all-time list.

As disappointing as it was for her and the Wolfpack to miss out on the NCAA tournament, Antonelli said the cancellation shouldn't have a negative effect on her draft choices -- despite an SB Nation story that listed her as one of the 10 players nationally who needed the postseason to "make their case for the WNBA."

“The way the WNBA prepares all season. It’s not just playing in the summer," she said. "Those staffs are full-time staffs and they’re working all year. They’ve already seen all the players. I don’t think the NCAA tournament would have mattered much. As a matter of fact, there might have been too much stock put in the NCAA tournament for players like Ace. 

"Her full body of work has already been on display and been exhibited over the last couple of years. They’re watching. They know. They know what a good shooter she is and know she can handle. They know, with her size, that she could be a good No. 12 on the end of somebody’s bench and be that specialist. And be a player they can develop. She is in the top 20 pool of Canadian players for the national team.”

Speaking of that national team, Antonelli said that Konig showed great character and loyalty by sticking with the Wolfpack for the entire season instead of taking time off to help improve her own Olympic chances as others -- including Louisville's Elizabeth Balogun -- did.

"There were several players that left in early February and went to compete with their national teams to try and help them qualify for the Olympics and to try to make the team. And Ace didn’t do that," Antonelli said. "She stayed with NC State because she wanted to complete her senior year and she wanted to play college basketball.

“I admire her maturity in that decision. I’m not downplaying anybody that decided to do that. Everybody has to make their own choice. But when you make a choice like she did, not to go and stay. I think Wolfpack Nation owes her a debt of gratitude for that, because (State) would have struggled without her.”

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