It’s not just WNBA players who stood out at the World Cup.
It’s no secret that the WNBA is one of the most difficult leagues for players to earn a place in. With only 12 teams and a maximum of 144 roster spots, many talented athletes miss out on a chance to play professional basketball in what is widely considered to be the best league in the World.
The FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup gave players from all over the globe a chance to prove themselves on one of the biggest stages, and they did not disappoint. While the All-World Cup First Team consisted of five WNBA players (A’ja Wilson, Breanna Stewart, Bridget Carleton, Han Xu, and Steph Talbot), plenty of other players proved that they deserve a shot at the WNBA. Here’s a look at some players that you might see on a WNBA roster next year.
Arella Guirantes (Puerto Rico)
Arella Guirantes put the world on notice when she went off for 26 points during Puerto Rico’s first game of the World Cup. She also grabbed 9 rebounds, dished out 8 assists, and came away with 3 steals during the contest. Guirantes then had 27 points in Puerto Rico’s near-upset over Belgium.
Even though Guirantes’ World Cup journey ended with Puerto Rico’s quarterfinal loss against Canada, Guirantes left it all on the floor for her country, finishing the contest with a game-high 19 points and 7 rebounds. She was named to the All-World Cup Second Team.
While Arella Guirantes was drafted as the 22nd overall pick by the Los Angeles Sparks in the 2021 WNBA Draft, she did not make the final roster that year. Given the challenging two years that the Sparks organization has had, someone in the front office might be regretting that decision right about now.
Mya Hollingshed (Puerto Rico)
Hollingshed had an excellent debut for Puerto Rico at the World Cup where she helped the Islanders not only to their first-ever FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup win but also, even more incredibly, the team’s first-ever quarterfinal appearance at the tournament. She packed the one-two punch alongside Arella Guirantes, and averaged 13 points and 6.2 rebounds per outing. Her best performance came during Puerto Rico’s win over Korea when she scored 29 points on 68.8% shooting (83.3% from three-point range) and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Hollingshed was drafted 8th overall by the Las Vegas Aces in the 2022 Draft but was waived prior to the start of the season. The former Bluff balled out in her last year at Colorado, receiving first-team All-Pac-12 honors with impressive averages of 14.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 2 assists per game. Hollingshed has made a pretty good case for why a WNBA team should take another look at her. It will be interesting to see if she and her national team teammate Arella Guirantes find themselves on WNBA rosters in the 2023 season.
Yvonne Anderson (Serbia)
It’s pretty impressive to be the leader in any statistical category at the World Cup, and Serbia’s Yvonne Anderson not only finished the World Cup averaging a tournament-high 6.5 assists, she also finished the contest as a Top 10 scorer in the contest with her 15 points per game. Anderson was also named to the All-World Cup Second Team.
Serbia crashed out of the tournament after drawing the United States for their quarterfinal matchup, but Anderson held her own during the event and scored 18 points against both Canada and France.
Anderson played 11 games for the Connecticut Sun this season where she averaged 9.2 minutes and 3.2 points per game. It will be interesting to see if the Connecticut Sun sign her to another contract next season or if any other teams will take a look at her.
Li Meng (China)
China is shaking up the basketball world. Australian fans were disappointed when China knocked them out of the gold-medal game in a hard-fought game. Li Meng was a huge part of China’s success during the group stage of the tournament, scoring 23 points against France while shooting 50% from three-point range, and scoring 21 points against the United States.
Meng finished the tournament averaging 16 points per game. She went underrated in the 2017 WNBA Draft, and with Han Xu and Li Yueru already playing in the United States, Meng just might find herself entertaining the idea of making a move during the offseason.
Laeticia Amihere (Canada)
Amihere is the only player on this list who is not currently playing professional basketball. She is currently a senior at South Carolina, and she averaged 6.3 points and 3.6 rebounds during their championship season last year.
Amihere is no stranger to playing basketball on the international stage, having played for Canada at the Olympics and at AmeriCup, and she did not disappoint during Canada’s fourth-place finish at the World Cup in Sydney.
FIBA listed one of Amihere’s blocks against Australia as the best play of the tournament, a pretty high honor for someone who was facing off against the likes of A’ja Wilson, Breanna Stewart, Chelsea Gray, and Kelsey Plum.
Amihere finished the tournament averaging 7.3 points and 3.6 rebounds. She still has one more year of college eligibility after this season, but WNBA scouts might want to keep their eyes on her. There are not very many players in college basketball who have the amount of international experience that Amihere has, and not very many players who can hold their own against some of the world’s best players.
WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert stated earlier this year that the League would announce two more expansion teams by the end of 2022. Any expansion team would be lucky to have players of this caliber on their roster.