Arguably the best player from the 2019 women’s college basketball season will not begin her rookie WNBA campaign with the team that drafted her.
The Dallas Wings announced late Wednesday night that they had waived Megan Gustafson, the No. 17 overall pick from this year’s draft. The Wings also waived No. 22 overall pick Kennedy Burke.
Gustafson, a 6’3 lefty who excelled in college in scoring at will from almost anywhere in the paint, led Iowa to an Elite Eight appearance this past season while averaging an NCAA-leading 27.8 points per-game. Gustafson was also third in the nation in rebounding, averaging 13.8 boards per-game.
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She was essentially the unanimous Player of the Year, winning the Naismith, AP, ESPNW and USBWA editions of the award. She also claimed the Lisa Leslie Award and the Big Ten Player of the Year award. Just last month, the University of Iowa retired her No. 10 jersey.
But the WNBA is a bit different than the college game. And with only 12 teams, its highly coveted roster spots are only reserved for the best of the best. Wings head coach Brian Agler talked about what it takes to make it in the WNBA in a recent interview with High Post Hoops.
“Megan had a tremendous college career. Her ability to carry over and rebound and finish at the rim and defend in the lane is really going to determine her ability to play in this league. We’ll see how it all plays out,” Agler said last week. “This is a tough league to make… It takes a specific type of hunger, a specific type of skill set and a specific type of athleticism.”
Gustafson saw action in all three of the Wings’ preseason games, but played just a total of 33 minutes. Over that time, she grabbed seven rebounds, dished out two assists and scored eight points on 2-of-8 shooting from the floor.
Between getting drafted and the end of the preseason, Gustafson’s chances of making the Wings’ final roster may have dwindled a bit due to some trades the team made. The Wings acquired 6’3 Isabelle Harrison in the deal that sent unhappy superstar Liz Cambage to Las Vegas, and then landed the versatile 6’7 rim protector Imani McGee-Stafford in a deal with the Atlanta Dream.
Despite Gustafson getting cut from the Wings, she impressed her teammates with her hustle, skill and commitment to getting better.
“Megan works extremely, extremely hard,” Wings guard Tayler Hill said. “She runs the floor really well and she’s a great back-to-the-bucket post player. In our league nowadays, you don’t see a bunch of that. But she can also stretch the floor.”
Burke, a 6-foot-1 guard, played at UCLA where she averaged 15.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per-game as a senior, while also being named to All-Pac-12 Defensive First Team. Burke helped the Bruins advance to the Sweet 16 this past season, where they fell to UConn. Burke played 60 minutes across the Wings’ trio of preseason contests, tallying 31 points on 11-of-25 shooting, six rebounds, three assists, three steals and three blocks.
By cutting Gustafson and Burke, the Dallas roster is now finalized for the regular season. The Wings also moved Moriah Jefferson — who was also acquired in the Cambage trade — to the temporarily suspended list.
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