WAC
The Lady Jacks won another conference title and are loaded once again heading into the 2022-23 season. Courtesy WAC Facebook.

WAC Hoops 2022-23: Way Too Early Women’s Rankings

In its first season in the WAC, Stephen F. Austin continued its success under head coach Mark Kellogg. The Lady Jacks ran to a regular season and tournament title before losing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. With the addition of UTA, Southern Utah and Incarnate Word for 2022-23, we will have two NCAA Tournament teams from the 2021-22 season as UTA won the Sun Belt Conference tournament. It should be a fun season.

As we start our run up to the 2022-2023 season new contributor Chelsea Mendelson and I give our “Way too Early” predictions.

Chelsea:

  1. SFA
  2. GCU
  3. UTA
  4. ACU
  5. CBU
  6. SHSU
  7. UTU
  8. Lamar
  9. Tarleton
  10. UVU
  11. SUU
  12. UTRGV
  13. NMSU
  14. UIW
  15. Seattle

  Derryl’s Rankings:

  1. SFA
  2. UTA
  3. GCU
  4. ACU
  5. CBU
  6. UTU
  7. SHSU
  8. Lamar
  9. UVU
  10. Tarleton
  11. SUU
  12. NMSU
  13. UIW
  14. UTRGV
  15. Seattle

Here is a breakdown of each team thus far as we make our way into the month of July, just four months away from the start of the 2022-23 college basketball season.

Abilene Christian

Last Year: 17-13 overall, 9-9 WAC (5th), lost in 2nd round of WAC tourney

Key Returners

Madi Miller (9.4 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.4 APG, 33.3% 3 pt shooter), Bella Earle (7.3 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 2.1 APG, 34.9% 3 pt shooter)

Key Losses

Jamie Bonnarens & Tatum Barber (top two scorers…COVID seniors) 

Key Newcomers

Brooke Jessen (transfer from UTRGV…2.7 PPG & 2.7 RPG) & Zoe Jackson (transfer from Butler…6.8 PPG, 3.0 APG & 2.6 RPG)

Breakdown

Losing Bonnarens and Barber will be tough for the Wildcats, However, ACU brings back Miller, Bella Earle and add Zoe Jackson from Butler via the Portal along with Jessen and Raychael Harjo from UCF. 

WAC
ACU sophomore guard Bella Earle was one of the best freshman in the WAC in 2021-22. Courtesy WAC Facebook.

California Baptist

Last Year: 23-9 overall, 13-5 WAC (3rd), tourney semifinalist, lost in WNIT 1st rd

Key Returners

Trinity San Antonio (7.4 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 52 steals)

Key Losses

Ane Olaeta, Britney Thomas, Georgia Dale (Graduation), Caitlyn Harper (Grad Transfer to Purdue), Nicole Avila-Ambrosi (Transfer South Dakota), Syd Palma (Grad Transfer to GCU)

Key Newcomers

Georgia Kehoe (Seattle U transfer…7.0 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 26 Blocks), Nae Nae Calhoun (Hawaii transfer…36.8% 3 pt shooter, 4.0 PPG, 57 Assists in 24 games), Chloe Webb (UCI transfer…2nd leading scorer a year ago at 10.2 PPG, 38.5% 3 pt shooter, 47 steals, 48 assists, 5.7 RPG), Leslie Finau (grad transfer from Colorado…4.2 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 21 assists, 29 steals), Kinsley Barrington (appeared in 5 games at Southern Utah last year…10.6 PPG & 3.8 RPG)

Breakdown

So far, Jarrod Olson has done pretty well with this class. Two solid 3-point shooters from the Big West and an experienced guard from the Pac-12 along with two inter-conference transfers. They’ll have pretty big shoes to fill with the departures of Olaeta, Harper, Thomas, Dale, and Palma. 

WAC
CBU guard Trinity San Antonio is a key returner for the Lancers in 2022-23. Courtesy WAC Facebook.

Grand Canyon

Last Year: 22-10 overall, 14-4 WAC (2nd), tourney runner-up, lost in WNIT 1st rd

Key Returners

Dom Phillips (9.4 PPG, 3.2 REB, Academic All-WAC), Tiarra Brown (9.5 PPG, 4.8 REB, 1.9 STL, Academic All-WAC)

Key Losses

Amara Graham, Taylor Caldwell, Tianna Brown (All three graduated)

Key Newcomers

Syd Palma (Transfer from CBU. WAC leading 3pt% 44.7% in ’20-’21. Was a consistent threat off the bench as redshirt freshman). Aaliyah Collins (Transfer from Chicago State. Top-10 in country for steals and points among freshmen. Led team with 14.6 PPG; 3.0 AST, 2.4 STL, 4.6 REB, All-WAC 2nd team). Olivia Lane (Transfer from North Dakota. 11.8 PPG, conference leading 9.0 REB). Evan Zars (Transfer from Western Illinois. 10.8 PPG, 1.2 BLK, 8.8 REB). Maisa Marcal (Transfer from Independence (Kansas). 14.3 PPG, 7.0 REB, 3.9 AST, 2.7 STL).

Breakdown

A big weakness for the Lopes last season was lacking a true and dominant force in the paint. The additions of Lane and Zars come to change that as a scary presence under the hoop. Palma, Collins, and Marcal look to fill the big shoes left by the guards that graduated, as well as bring the same defensive edge Molly Miller has brought to the program over the last two seasons. 

Molly Miller
Molly Miller ramped up the recruiting in the offseason in hopes of winning that elusive WAC Tournament title. Courtesy WAC Facebook.

Incarnate Word

Last Year: 14-17 overall, 5-9 Southland…tourney champs, lost to South Carolina in NCAA tournament.

Key Returners

Destiny Terrell (8.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG) & Myra Bell (3.7 PPG & 3.2 RPG)

Key Losses

Jaaucklyn Moore (Transferred to UNT), Tiana Gardner (Transferred to Grambling), Destiny Jenkins (In the Portal)

Key Newcomers

Chelsea Wooten (Transfer from Charleston. Role Player as sophomore. Scored season high 14 against Agnes Scott), Yuliyana Valcheva (Transfer from UTSA. 3.6 PPG, 3.1 REB). 

Breakdown

After a historic season, the team fell apart due to transfers and graduations. No true stars come to the team as transfers. So, the roster is a mystery going into its first year back in the WAC. Could certainly be a sleeper to be successful despite losses like Jaaucklyn Moore and Tiana Gardner.

Lamar

Last Year: 14-15 overall, 8-10 WAC (8th), lost in WAC tourney 2nd rd

Key Returners

Akasha Davis (12.5 PPG, 6.8 RPG), Sabria Dean (12.0 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2nd in 3 pt makes at 39/96 40.6%)

Key Losses

Angel Hastings (10.2 PPG, 1.7 RPG)

Key Newcomers

Telisha Brown (Blinn Junior College…13.6 PPG while shooting 42% from 3, 6.2 APG, 5.4 SPG, 4.5 RPG)

Breakdown

Very impressive debut campaign for Aqua Franklin and company who do return a lot of experience. Can they break through into the upper half of the conference in their final year in the WAC? 

Lamar
Lamar forward Akasha Davis goes after a loose ball in a WAC tournament game against Sam Houston. Courtesy WAC Facebook.

New Mexico State

Last Year: 10-19 overall, 6-12 WAC (12th), lost in tourney first round

Key Returners

Molly Kaiser (8.2 PPG), Taylor Donaldson (7.1 PPG, 2,6 REB, 1.2 AST)

Key Losses

Bigue Sarr (Graduated)

Key Newcomers

Sabou Gueye (Transfer from Northwest Florida State College. 6.3 PPG, 4.7 REB as freshman), Ashlee Strawbridge (Transfer from College of Southern Idaho. 8.8 PPG, 5.2 REB)

Breakdown

New head coach in former Wichita State coach Jody Birch-Adams (161-115 overall with 3 NCAA tournament appearances) kept their core and made some good additions. But the loss of star player Sarr could cause the Aggies to end up towards the bottom or middle of the conference once again. 

Sam Houston

Last Year: 15-16 overall, 9-9 WAC (6th), lost in tourney quarterfinals

Key Returners

Madelyn Batista (10.7 PPG & 8.4 RPG last year) and Kaylee Jefferson (7.5 PPG, 5.4 RPG)

Key Losses

Faith Cook, Courtney Cleveland and Damaya Telemaque (all graduated)

Key Newcomers

Chyna Allen (14.0 PPG & 3.7 RPG at Nicholls State a year ago. Led the team in made 3s with 25 at a just under 30.0% rate)

Breakdown

Head Coach Ravon Justice took a 13-game personal leave of absence which included the start of WAC play. Brittany Mason was interim coach and went 3-10 in that stretch (1-6 WAC). The Bearkats then won seven straight to get into tournament qualifying position. Justice loses a trio of scorers in Cook, Cleveland, and Telemaque. But Sam Houston brings back Madelyn Bautista and Kaylee Jefferson. Chyna Allen from Nicholls State should be a nice addition coming over from a program that won just four games a season ago. 

Sam Houston
Madelyn Batista is going to play a larger role for Ravon Justice and Sam Houston in 2022-23. Courtesy WAC Facebook.

Seattle

Last Year: 11-19 overall, 6-12 WAC (10th), lost tourney first rd

Key Returners

Irena Korolenko, Peyton Howard (Both were generally role players)

Key Losses

Bree Calhoun (Graduated), Courtney Murphy (Graduated), McKenzi Williams (Graduated), Georgia Kehoe (Transfer to CBU)

Key Newcomers

Julianna Walker (Transfer from Syracuse. Played limited minutes as freshman; 1.4 PPG)

Breakdown

After a disappointing season and losing in the first round of the tourney, Seattle continued to suffer this offseason losing its core to graduation and Kehoe transferring to CBU. 

Stephen F. Austin

Last Year: 28-5 overall, 17-1 WAC, regular season and tourney champs, lost to North Carolina in NCAA first rd. 

Key Returners

Aiyana Johnson (13.9 PPG, 6.5 REB), Zya Nugent (12.9 PPG, 5.1 REB, 2.5 AST)

Key Losses

Stephanie Visscher (Grad Transfer to Michigan St.)

Key Newcomers

Kurstyn Harden (Transfer from Northen Colorado. 12.2 PPG, 7.7 REB)

Breakdown

Despite losing their best player, the Jacks managed to keep their core intact looking to defend their regular season and tournament titles of a year ago and finish off an NCAA tournament win. 

Southern Utah

Last Year: 18-12 overall, 14-6 Big Sky…lost in Big Sky tournament 2nd rd, regular season runner-up 

Key Returners

Lizzy Williamson (9.8 PPG, 8.1 RPG), Cherita Daugherty (10.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 98 assists)

Key Losses

Kinsley Washington (inter conference transfer to CBU, appeared in 5 games and averaged 10.6 PPG with 3.8 RPG)

Key Newcomers

Megan Jensen (6.3 PPG & 4.4 RPG at Utah Valley last year)

Breakdown

The Thunderbirds come into WAC play on the heels of an excellent final campaign in the Big Sky which saw them earn runner-up honors. They do return a couple of nice scorers but at this point depth is a big question with a roster boasting just eight players. 

Tarleton

Last Year: 16-13 overall, 8-10 WAC…postseason ineligible due to NCAA Division I transition protocol

Key Returners

Jurnee President (6.7 PPG, 55 assists, 31.4% 3 pt shooter) & Jenna Dick (43.3% 3 pt shooter 45/104)

Key Losses

Iyana Dorsey (inter-conference transfer to UTRGV) & Malaya Kendrick (graduation)

Key Newcomers

Star Omozee (7.0 PPG, 4.4 RPG at UIW), Maiyra Ceicedo (7.6 PPG, 5.2 APG, 3.5 RPG @ UALR last year)

Breakdown

Improvement is all Misty Wilson can ask for as she leads the Texans through their Division I transition. And in 2021-22, the Texans did that. Tarleton jumped to 8 WAC wins in 2021-22, up from four in 2020-21. Iyanna Dorsey transferring to UTRGV definitely hurts but there should still be enough for Tarleton to be competitive in 2022-23.

Texas-Arlington

Last Year: 20-8 overall, 11-4 Sunbelt…tournament champions, lost in first round to Iowa State.

Key Returners

Star Jacobs (21.0 PPG, 6.6 RPG & 63 steals) & De’Sha Benjamin (9.9 PPG & 3.2 RPG…36% 3 pt shooter)

Key Losses

Terryn Milton (11.9 PPG, 4.9 RPG & 125 assists) & Katie Ferrell (5.3 PPG & 122 assists) 

Key Newcomers

Jireh Washington (14.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG & 76 assists at Arkansas State a year ago)

UTA was 2nd in the Sun Belt regular season standings a year ago, won the tournament and gave Iowa State all they could handle in Ames before falling. Shereka Wright returns her top scorer in Star Jacobs and got Jireh Washington from Arkansas State in the portal. UTA should be in the mix for a regular season title.

UTRGV

Last Year: 14-19 overall, 8-10 WAC (9th), lost in tourney second round

Key Returners

Kacee Kyle (6.8 PPG, 2.8 APG, 2.3 RPG…season high 18 pts v CBU), Jena Williams (4.4 PPG with 88 assists), Halie Jones (4.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG…finished with double figures scoring in three of last six games last year)

Key Losses

Sara Bershers (13.5 PPG & 5.7 RPG…transferred to UAB) & Taylor Muff (13.8 PPG, 7.1 RPG)…team’s top two scorers

Key Newcomers

Iyana Dorsey (Tarleton State transfer…10.4 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 41 assists, 43 steals)

Breakdown

A nice rebound for Lane Lord and company who spoiled SFA’s undefeated WAC regular season bid and won a couple of tournament games. The losses of Sara Bershers to the transfer portal and Taylor Muff completed her eligibility, becoming an assistant volleyball coach at Eastern Washington will hurt. 

UTRGV
Can UTRGV feed off its run in the WAC Tourney? Courtesy WAC Facebook.

Utah Tech (formerly Dixie State)

Last Year: 10-19 overall, 6-12 WAC…tourney ineligible due to NCAA Division I transition protocol

Key Returners

Breaunna Gillen (15.2 PPG, 5.3 RPG, nearly 5 assists per game) and Emily Issacson (13.0 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 41.1% 3 pt shooter)

Key Losses

Shanijah Davidson (16.7 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and just over 4 assists per game)

Key Newcomers

Amber Kartchner (BYU transfer who redshirted as a Freshman but was a 1,000 pt scorer in HS)

Breakdown

Solid inaugural campaign for JD Gustin and company and the Trailblazers should be even better this year. 

Utah Valley

Last Year: 16-15 overall, 10-8 WAC (4th)…lost in tourney semifinals 

Key Returners

Madison Grange (10.6 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 2.6 APG a season ago…season high 24 v UTRGV) and Shay Fano (6.7 PPG but limited to 11 games due to injury)

Key Losses

Maria Carvalho (transferred to Utah State…13.6 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.2 APG, 33.3% 3 pt shooter)

Key Newcomers

Halle Nelson (transfer from Utah State…4.6 PPG & 4.0 RPG. Season high 11 pts, 8 rbs, 3 steals against UNLV)

Could be a long year in Orem. Utah Valley lost All-WAC point guard Maria Carvalho (Utah State transfer). And if Josie Williams leaves, there will be a big void to fill in the paint. Williams entered the transfer portal late but no news has come out yet whether she is staying or going. Madison Grange and Shay Fano will have to pick up some of the scoring load and the Wolverines will have to get contributions from a third source.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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