- The Washington Times
Thursday, March 26, 2020

One week before the NFL draft is scheduled to go off without any public events, the WNBA will hold its draft on April 17 in a similar way: virtual only.

The draft was supposed to be hosted at Nike headquarters in New York City. Instead, due to the coronavirus pandemic, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert will announce each pick live on ESPN, and the network will conduct its studio coverage with top prospects joining remotely. Guests and media will not be present.

“The WNBA draft is a time to celebrate the exceptional athletes whose hard work and dreams are realized with their selections in the draft,” Engelbert said in a statement. “Safeguarding the health and well-being of our prospects, players, employees, and everyone connected to our game as well as the general public is paramount. With that in mind, we will work diligently with our broadcast partner, ESPN, to create a memorable but virtual event that appropriately honors these accomplished athletes.”

The NFL is reportedly working on a similar plan to make its draft, April 23-25, a television-only event, with top prospects invited to participate in the broadcast remotely.

Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu is expected to be the No. 1 overall pick. The Washington Mystics, coming off their first WNBA title, have the 12th and final pick in each of the three rounds.

For now, the WNBA has not postponed the start of its training camps (set to start April 26) or regular season (May 15) due to the virus.

During the draft, the league also plans to honor Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant and fellow athletes Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, who died in a helicopter crash in January.

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