For Bella Earle, Madi Miller and the Abilene Christian women’s basketball team, the first season in the WAC didn’t go quite as planned. After finishing with a 9-9 conference record, the Wildcats ended up losing in the second round of the WAC tournament to UTRGV.
This offseason resulted in the loss of two of their best players. Both of their top scorers, Jamie Bonnarens and Tatum Barber, ran out of eligibility.
Big moves needed to be made in order to try and improve the team. But, keeping core players was important as well. With Madi Miller and Bella Earle returning and the additions of Brooke Jessen and Zoe Jackson, ACU is looking to better take on the WAC.
The Returners: Madi Miller & Bella Earle
Madi Miller looks to have continued success for the Wildcats in her graduate season. In the 2019-2020 season, Miller broke her hand mid-game in the middle of the season. Showing her resilience, she only missed one game, earning her the 2019-20 ACU Comeback Student-Athlete of the Year. The 5’9” Guard from Wylie, Texas also had a solid season last year. She averaged 9.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.4 assists. With the loss of Tatum Barber, Miller is expected to get more minutes and help fill that hole in the offense.
Bella Earle will also help make up for the loss of Barber with her play as well. The daughter of former NFL player Guy Earle had a solid freshman season at ACU. She averaged 7.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.1 assists. Earle also shot 34.9 percent from behind the arc. Together, Miller and Earle will be a solid guard tandem to help ACU improve their play and move up the WAC standings.
The corner three from @earle_isabella and it's a one possession game!!
— ACU Women’s Basketball (@ACUWBB) January 14, 2022
The Newcomers: Brooke Jessen & Zoe Jackson
This offseason, Brooke Jessen was one of the seven WAC women’s basketball players that transferred to another school in the conference. Last season she started three games for the Vaqueros of UTRGV. The forward played solid minutes as a true freshman. Despite having limited play, Jessen showed potential to be a threat both offensively and defensively. Playing four sports in high school, Jessen is a very capable athlete. It will be exciting to see how she continues to improve throughout her collegiate career.
Zoe Jackson was a great offseason pickup for Coach Goodenough and her staff. “I am thrilled to be Zoe’s next head coach, and we are so excited for her to join our family,” Goodenough said in part about Jackson. “With good court vision, keen passing ability, and aggressive on-ball pressure defense, Zoe will be a welcomed addition to our team.” Last season at Butler she averaged 6.8 points, 3.0 assists, and 2.6 rebounds per game. She also started 20 of her 27 games. In high school, Jackson started all four years at Allen High School in Texas. In her senior year, she averaged 18 points, showing she’s a shooting threat on top of being an excellent facilitating guard.
4:22 3Q: Brooke Jessen from downtown. We trail @NMStateWBB 38-36.
— UTRGV Women's Basketball (@UTRGVwbb) January 31, 2022
In our Way-Too-Early WAC rankings, ACU landed itself in the top four. With expected improvement in play thanks to the new additions and the returning core, the Wildcats could definitely go far this year. Look for them to give the top teams a serious run for their money.