Fueling the fire: Chanelle Molina’s dream in progress

Konawaena's Chanelle Molina drives past Lahainaluna's Fe-Ko-Fiemea Hafoka during the second half of the 2015 HHSAA Division I girls basketball championship game on Friday, Feb. 13, 2015 in Honolulu. Konawaena held on to defend their title, beating the Lunas 51-41. Jamm Aquino/Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

She was projected as a second- or third-round selection in the WNBA 2020 Draft.

Instead, guard Chanelle Molina was bypassed despite being a potential target by league powerhouse Connecticut.

“After the draft, I was motivated more than ever and disappointed at the same time. A little bump in the road just means another route I have to take to the WNBA. That’s what God planned for me. My mentality is get better every day and do what I can,” she said.

Molina just completed her first game as a starting guard with the Norrköping Dolphins, scoring 24 points on 7-for-14 shooting with just one turnover.

Molina’s star-studded prep career included three Star-Advertiser All-State player of the year awards, four Fab 15 selections, and three state championships. At Washington State, she overcame a knee injury as a freshman and earned All-Pac 12 Conference honorable mention honors. Molina had 15 points, six rebounds and five assists per game in her final two seasons as a Cougar.

The Connecticut Sun — which reached the league finals — then indicated interest in Molina.

Going into the 2020 WNBA Draft, she was projected as a second- or third-round pick by prognosticators at Bball-index.com in three mock drafts. (Note: The 12-team WNBA has just three rounds.)

Molina went in picks 24, 27 and 33 in those mock drafts.

Bball Index: “Game really took off her final two seasons. Good off-the-bounce shooter. Solid defender. Crafty in-between finisher with floaters, step-throughs and hooks. Will teams see a skillset that will continue to shine with better surrounding talent, or will she get dinged for WSU’s 11th-place Pac-12 finish?

Another site, tothemean.com, posted PLUM rankings, named after Kelsey Plum, and did not include Molina among its 36 projected draft picks.

Herhoopstats.substack.com listed Molina among the Top 40 draft prospects.

In the end, she went undrafted. The Sun opted to pick Juicy Landrum, a 5-foot-8 guard from Baylor. Landrum once made 14 3-pointers in a game, which is what Connecticut was likely looking for after losing a key long-range shooter in the offseason.

Late in her senior season, the 5-9 Molina suffered a minor injury to the same knee that sidelined her in 2016, but there was no structural damage. How she bounces back just eight months later in the Sweden Basketball League will affect the trajectory and pace of her launch to the WNBA — her ultimate dream.

Like Molina, Landrum was not listed in the PLUM rankings. Landrum was noted in the Bball-index mock drafts, ranging from 31 to 35. That 35th pick: Connecticut.

So, the trek overseas began. Instead of working out for six months with her trainer in Arizona, she had two days of training before the call came from Sweden. Her second game is on Saturday against Lulea, and the work continues.

In the SBL, teams play one game per week, which should work to her advantage as she regains full form after the late-season injury. She did play 36 minutes in the season opener last weekend, but looked very much like her normal self.

If her SBL season plays out accordingly, the road to her dream destination — the WNBA — could be waiting.


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