The National Women's Soccer League will host its ninth annual draft on Wednesday. Despite the challenges that the pandemic has placed on the league, including requesting a waiver from NCAA and eliminating the registration requirement, the draft will commence with eyes on the next influx of talent potentially heading into the league.
When the NWSL announced that its board of governors voted to expand the draft-eligible pool of collegiate athletes by waiving the requirement for senior collegiate athletes to register for the draft, it automatically made all players who exhausted three years of intercollegiate soccer eligibility prior to the 2020-2021 academic year eligible. However, registration remains a necessity for any and all athletes who otherwise meet the league's eligibility requirements, but are not captured in the current eligibility change. Registration has also remained an option for those athletes who do meet the definition of "senior."
Some top prospects have already moved on to sign with teams overseas, opting to start their careers in Europe. But the incoming draft class has several potential prospects who could be stars in the league. Let's take a look at some of those from the registered player list who could be selected in the first round.
1. Brianna Pinto (North Carolina)
The Tar Heel recently announced she would be turning pro. She'll enter the NWSL Draft and is one of the players likely to use the NCAA waiver to return to UNC to complete her collegiate season and then report to her eventual NWSL team.
The North Carolina native has had an impressive career to date both at the collegiate level and with U.S. Soccer youth programs, having competed in the 2016 U-17 and 2018 U-20 Women's World Cups. She was voted 2019 U.S. youth soccer player of the year after she started all 27 games she played for Carolina, scoring 11 goals and recording six assists.
Her selection on any team would be an immediate addition, especially for teams currently in the midst of building out rosters or redefining their team cultures, but Pinto would likely thrive in an established system.
2. Kiki Pickett (Stanford)
A versatile outside back who has played all over the pitch during her career, Pickett is leaving behind an impressive run of success at Stanford. She won two NCAA championships in 2017 and 2019 and is a three time Pac-12 champion. She earned All-Pac-12 first team honors in 2019 when she started 25 games, scored two goals and recorded nine assists on a run to a national championship.
The California native also has extensive experiences on the U.S. youth national program as a member of the U-20 side, and is a player that could slot in at various positions for teams looking to add depth or flesh out their formation immediately.
3. Trinity Rodman (Washington State)
The goal scoring U-20 standout has attracted attention with her offensive capabilities, having scored eight goals and six assists as the team went on to win the 2020 CONCACAF U-20 women's championship, including scoring twice in the championship final that led the U.S. past Mexico, 4-1.
Her performance made her one of the highly sought-after prospects, and her last name has introduced an added narrative as Rodman is the daughter of Michelle and Dennis Rodman -- a former NBA champion and Basketball Hall of Famer. Rodman was set to embark on her freshman year with Washington State, however the pandemic quickly altered things and she did not make an appearance for the Cougars. Her ability on the ball and knack for goal could make her a solid pickup for a team looking to build with a forward through continued development.