On Friday, Bridget Carleton was cut from the Connecticut Sun in a move that displays how difficult it is for athletes to make a WNBA roster.
Carleton, who was last seasons' Big 12 Player of the Year, was drafted in the second round by the Sun in the 2019 WNBA Draft.
When Carleton was cut, the Sun opted to sign Natisha Hiedeman to fill the 12th roster spot.
Hiedeman was drafted 18th overall in the 2019 draft and was traded to the Sun by the Minnesota Lynx, but was cut by the Sun during the preseason. After playing in Atlanta, she was again cut, but was once again picked up by Connecticut, who waived Carleton.
During the WNBA regular season, Carleton only appeared in four regular-season games, playing 29 minutes and registering one assist and three rebounds.
The Sun are 9-5 this season and rank second in the Eastern Conference behind the Washington Mystics, who are 9-4.
The WNBA consists of 12 teams with 12 players on each team, meaning there are only 144 players in the league during the regular season. Meanwhile, the NBA has 30 teams with 15-man rosters for a total 450 roster spots.
NBA team’s also can ink players to two-way contracts, allowing players to seamlessly move between the NBA and G-League. The G-League had 28 teams last season with up to 13 players allowed on each roster.
Considering the NBA’s regular-season roster, the NBA has over three times as many roster spots than the WNBA, which explains how a player like Carleton, who averaged 21.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, four assists, 2.3 steals and 1.2 blocks a game as a senior, can find themselves without a team.
Former Iowa player and Naismith Player of the Year Megan Gustafson, who averaged 27.9 points and 13.5 rebounds, initially didn’t even make the regular season roster of the Dallas Wings, who drafted her in the second round of the 2019 draft.
Gustafson was cut during the WNBA preseason, but has since been resigned by the Wings. In her time back with Dallas, Gustafson has played 63 minutes within seven games. She has averaged 3.9 points and 2.7 rebounds a game.
No matter what their college resumes may look like, the WNBA routinely leaves former top collegiate players like Carleton and Gustafson without a roster spot.