Analyst says CMU's Micaela Kelly has the talent to play in the WNBA

Central Michigan senior guard Micaela Kelly guards Iowa freshman guard Caitlin Clark in an 87-72 loss to Iowa in the first of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament March 21 at Alamodome in San Antonio, TX.

It's hard to miss the impact that Micaela Kelly makes on a game when you're watching every game she plays. Her unstoppable drives are routine, her 3-point makes become candid. 

However, it's certainly common that these efforts are lost on the larger audience. Central Michigan is a mid-major, after all, and even the best mid-major players sometimes are swept under the proverbial rug. 

Granted, Kelly's stock in the upcoming WNBA Draft has been helped by four years of playing top competition in non-conference play and making the NCAA Tournament in each season. 

Turns out Kelly is anything but unknown. She's a popular name heading into the Draft, which will be held virtually at 7 p.m. April 15. The draft is full of talented players and is just three rounds, however there are strong prospects that Kelly is among those taken. 

"I’m a big Micaela Kelly fan," said ESPN analyst LaChina Robinson. "Obviously at 5-foot-6, she can do a number of things. I think she can be a combo guard-type. She can play the one, possibly the two."

Kelly checked every box as a member of the Chippewas, scoring 2,173 points while grabbing 618 rebounds and dishing out 513 assists. She earned Mid-American Conference award recognition every year, earning All-Freshman (2018), Third Team (2019) and twice making the First Team (2020, 2021). 

"I think she’s one of the best athletes in this draft," Robinson said. "Twenty-two points a game just puts a lot of pressure on your defense. Also, for 5-6, averaged, what, seven rebounds a game last year and around five this season. She can defend.

Currently, she's being projected to be a mid-to-late third round pick in the draft. ESPN has her going to the Las Vegas Aces as the final pick of the draft, as does Winsidr. has Kelly going as the second pick of the third round, 26th overall, to the Indiana Fever. 

On the national spectrum, Texas center Charli Collier is tabbed as the consensus top pick of the draft to the Dallas Stars. Awak Kuier, a center from Finland is also highly regarded within the class. 

Heather Oesterle, who coached Kelly for two years as an assistant at CMU and two more as head coach, has fiercely advocated for her star to gain WNBA recognition throughout the season. 

"I really hope, after watching the game today, that some WNBA teams give her a shot," Oesterle said following CMU's 87-72 NCAA Tournament loss to Iowa. "Because she's talented. Not only can she defend but she can score. And she's fast and she's strong. So I really think she deserves a shot in the league and she wants to play at the next level."

Without another chance to show off her athleticism against those also in the running to be drafted, Kelly will be evaluated based solely on what she did in college. Lucky for her, she has quite the resume. 

"Sometimes I think we look at conference and give that too much stock but I’ve seen her play against a number of teams, Power Five and not, and she’s been effective," Robinson said. "I think she’s the kind of player that can really translate well to the WNBA. I really enjoy her game."