Two Latinas are drafted in the top five of the 2023 WNBA Draft
Brazilian-born Stephanie Soares and Mexican-born Lou Lopez Sénéchal were drafted using back-to-back picks; both are now members of the Dallas Wings.
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The 2023 WNBA Draft took place Monday, April 10, 2023.
During this year’s draft, two Latinas were taken off the board in the top five.
With the No. 4 pick, the Washington Mystics selected Stephanie Soares out of Iowa State, and immediately traded her to the Dallas Wings for multiple future draft picks.
The 6’6” forward/center grew up in Nova Odessa, Brazil, miles away from São Paulo, and comes from a family of hoopers. Her father, Rogerio, played college basketball at The Master’s University, the same school she and two of her siblings also played basketball.
Soares began her college career in 2018, establishing herself as one of the NCAA’s top players during her freshman and sophomore years. She led the nation in rebounds, blocked shots, and double-doubles both years, and was also named the back-to-back Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, respectively.
She was also the first player in TMU history to be named the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Division I Player of the Year in 2020.
Soares would miss her junior year after undergoing surgery to repair her ACL and MCL. However, she picked up where she left off during her senior year, averaging a double-double en route to again being named the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Player of the Year.
In April 2022, Soares announced that she was transferring to Iowa State as a fifth-year player. After playing the first 13 games, she suffered another ACL injury, forcing her to miss the remainder of her lone season there. In the games she played, Soares managed to record eight double-doubles.
Due to her recovery timeline, it is unlikely that Soares will be ready to play during the 2023 WNBA season.
Nonetheless, she provided some remarks regarding what it means to her to get drafted.
Whenever Soares is cleared to play, it’s expected that she will factor in heavily in the team’s plans and be ready to make a contribution.
Once the Mystics-Wings trade occurred, the Wings were on the clock in selecting the No. 5 pick, using it to draft Lou Lopez Sénéchal from UConn.
She was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, where she lived until her family moved to Grenoble, France, when she was five.
The well-traveled baller remained in France all the way through high school, before going to Dublin, Ireland in 2017, to play for the North Atlantic Basketball Academy for a year.
With goals of playing her college basketball in the U.S., Sénéchal searched for the right school for her that offered scholarships.
She’d eventually accept an offer to Fairfield University, where she enrolled in 2018.
During her four years at Fairfield, she led the school in scoring each season. In her senior year in 2022, she was named the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Player of the Year and the MAAC Championship Most Outstanding Player.
Afterward, Sénéchal transferred to powerhouse UConn for her fifth year.
While in a reduced role compared to her years in Fairfield, Sénéchal still managed to put up an average of 15.5 points per game on career-high shooting percentages during the 2022-23 season. Her contributions led her to be named to the 2022-23 All-Big East First Team.
The 27th WNBA season is set to kick off on Friday, May 19, 2023.
As the WNBA continues its efforts to grow within the United States, the Latino community can ensure some increased representation with two of the league’s newest additions in the Wings’ Soares and Sénéchal.