FAYETTEVILLE – After two years at junior college not recruited by the majors of women’s college basketball, former Conway Wampus Cat, Alexis Tolefree, soared to a prominent University of Arkansas junior in 2018-2019 into a first-team All-SEC senior on Coach Mike Neighbors 24-8 Razorbacks that finished 10-6 tied for third in the rugged SEC.
Now, it seems the 5-8 guard could soar beyond Arkansas into the Women’s National Basketball Association. For Friday night’s WNBA draft, ESPN projects Tolefree picked in the second of the 12-team league’s 3-round draft.
“I do think there’s a good chance she gets picked,” Neighbors said Wednesday afternoon. “There are three rounds total of 36 picks and ESPN had her up at No. 22. I’ve talked to about half the league which is a good sign they are very much talking about her. I think it’s just awesome they are even talking about her, because again, you are talking about a kid coming out of high school that nobody had on their radar for being a future WNBA draft pick. She’s really worked herself into that position. It’s been amazing to watch her do it.”
Tolefree turned a lot of heads three times scoring 30 points this past season against SEC opponents Kentucky, Mississippi State and Auburn and a career high 35 against SEC opponent Missouri. Tolefree averaged 16.3 points, second on team to junior star Chelsea Dungee’s 16.9, while nailing 91 of 225 3-pointers and 95 of 114 free throws for a team-leading 83 percent and thieved a team-leading 51 steals.
All that said, Neighbors cautioned, if Tolefree indeed does get drafted that it’s just the start of a hard road trying to wind into the WNBA. “Like I told Lex,” Neighbors said. “The thing about the WNBA is every single year for the last six years, a first-round pick has got cut. They did not even make the roster. It’s an incredibly hard league to break into as a rookie.”
Neighbors explained why. “There are only 11 roster spots on 12 teams,” Neighbors said. “So that’s 132 spots to choose from and you know there’s 20 years worth of veterans wanting to play. So it’s a really hard thing to A: Getting drafted. And B: Making the team. So even to be going into it with anticipation and hopes is an awesome thing for her.”