Its that time of the year again! “its LOCAL GIRLS COLLEGE BASKETBALL”! Get excited! We have a lot of local girls that are on Division One Basketball opening day rosters. All of the media day events have taken place and all the coaches have cast their ballots on where they think teams will finish in their respective conferences. Selecting where teams will finish is never an exact art because there are several factors involved. Injuries, academic issues, players transferring after the Fall semester, attitudes, highly regarded freshman not living up to the hype, players lack of playing time etc… The teams that normally have those things under control usually make out well. Below are our local girls who are going to be confronted with the task at hand. Overtime, some will stay the course. Some will get despondent and leave. Some will get hurt. Some may have academic or character issues. Some will blossom into really good student- athletes who will represent their school, community, family and most of all themselves well. If a person wants to keep up with the local girls , every team has a website that can be be viewed for verification purposes.
1.North Carolina A&T: MEAC: Predicted to finish First: The Aggies come off of a 24 game win season and finished second in conference play to Hampton. The Aggies have one of the better teams in collegiate women’s basketball. The Aggies features two local players in Christina Carter a Thomasville High graduate and VCU transfer average 9.6 ppg (36% fg- 59% ft 7.6 ppg in conference play) whom transferred from VCU two years ago spearheads Coach Robinson attack. Southeast Guilford grad Kenya Hailey begins her sophomore year and should see more playing time coming off the bench. She averaged 1.9 ppg and 8 minutes of action per game.The Aggies are deep and very talented and could easily be not only one of the best teams in North Carolina but also in the country.The Aggies advanced to the WNIT and just came up short against South Florida. The Aggies have one of the best depth teams in the state and would be a tough match for anyone no matter what conference that they are in. Hampton from the MEAC dominated the SEC and had a hard time getting teams to schedule them. Under the direction of Coach Robinson the Aggies are prime and set for many years to come.
1.Middle Tennessee: Conference USA: Predicted to finish First. The Blue Raiders are coming off a great season by winning the conference. The transfer addition of Cheyenne Parker ( Southwest Guilford grad) whom transferred from High Point University where she led the conference in block shots and is High Point all time shot blocking leader should provide instant stability in the middle of the lanes for the Blue Raiders. She has the ability to provide a double-double in scoring and rebounding on any night at 6’4 ft. Cheyenne will bring the toughness and experience that will be needed. The Blue Raiders were one of the top teams in the country a year ago and should be there again. The Blue Raiders have handled the tragedy of a player that was murdered a few years ago and justice has been serve.
1. Army: Patriot League: Predicted to finish First: Army has consistently been a winner and is one of the finer women programs in the country. Ciarra Jackson (Ragsdale) returns after missing last season. In her early two years she played sparingly but should be called upon to produce quality minutes off the bench. Army should repeat again this year and advance to the NCAA tournament.
2.Stony Brook University: American East: Predicted to finish second: The Seawolves are coming off a record setting year of 24 wins and have had the greatest turnaround in the history of NCAA Division One Women’s Basketball. Their program have gone from 4 wins to 14 wins to 24 wins. Stony Brook University prides itself on Academic excellence and is rated as one of the top academics programs in the country by US World Report and Kiplinger Magazine. Stony Brook Women’s Basketball placed 13 out of 15 of its student athletes on the Honor Roll to lead the conference and was one of the tops in the country. They begin play in their new 21.3 million dollar State of the Art Long Island Federal Credit Union Arena this season. Eastern Guilford grad Miranda Jenkins returns with a young squad from a year ago that reached the Conference Championship game and a berth in the WNIT. The former Wildcat averaged 8.8 ppg 45.3% fg, 36%, 85.5% ft, 3.9 rpg in conference play (13-3) in her first full season of play after suffering a season ending injury before her first game during her freshmen year after earning a starting role. Stony Brook travels to Durham, North Carolina to play Nationally ranked Duke on November 28 in Cameron Gymnasium.
2. High Point University: Big South: Predicted to finish second: High Point has establish itself as one of the premiere teams in the Big South. They advanced to the WNIT and continued their winning ways inspite of losing the likes of Southwest Guilford Cheyenne Parker to Middle Tennessee. Rockingham graduate Lindsay Puckett returns for her final year after averaging 6.7 points per game and 2.2 rebounds off the bench and provides solid leadership. Dudley grad Kennedy Currie could see spot duty. Highpoint plays and up tempo game and looks for baskets in transition. HighPoint travels to Raleigh to play North Carolina State on November 21.
3. Winthrop University: Big South: Predicted to finish third. Winthrop has been one of the darlings of the Big South over the past two years and should be in the mix again. After losing their top scorer and player of the year Dequesh McClanahan, other must step up now to fill the void. Greensboro Day Ronata Rogers needs to establish a better perimeter game in order to earn more playing time. She averaged .09 ppg and played 4.9 minutes per game during her freshmen year. Early on will be a testing ground to see if she has gotten into the rotation. Winthrop travels to Tennessee to play the Vols on November 21.
4. South Carolina Upstate: Atlantic Sun:Predicted to finish fourth. Upstate has improved over the past two years. This year could be the year that they hit the 20 win season mark. Western Guilford grad Brittany Clency has done a good job of establishing herself as one of the conference marquee players. She is preseason second team all conference. Brittany averaged nearly 11.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg and shot 39% from the field and 70% from the charity stripe. The 17 -15 record of a year ago included a 11-7 in conference play. Upstate will work hard to set the tempo and utilize the experience of Clency and post player and preseason first team pick Brittany Starling. Upstate travels to Greensboro to play UNCG November 21 at Fleming Gym in what will be Brittany Clency homecoming.
4. Campbell University: Big South:Predicted to finish fourth. Campbell has establish itself as the marquee school for recruiting in Guilford County. Jessica Pone (Southwest Guilford)2.6 ppg has not cracked the rotation in her first two seasons. Amanda Coffer (Northern Guilford) played 13.7 mpg and averaged 4.1 ppg shooting 38% from the field and 61% from the charity stripe. Coffer should crack the rotation this year and play more minutes and continue to provide shot blocking. Makayla Rouse (Dudley) could see playing time and provide some defense off the bench. This could be a very interesting year for the Camels with a light non conference schedule which could allow them to get off to a good start. Elon travels to take on the Camels on December 17.
4. North Carolina: ACC: Predicted to finish fourth: The Tar-Heels were surprised when Diamond DeShields one of the nations best players bolted to Tennessee. She stated “when the shoe doesn’t fit”. Carolina is talented enough that they will continue on with their winning ways. Bishop Mcguinness graduate Megan Buckland is looking to provide added depth off the bench after two injury plaque years. Her long range shooting could provide a spark for the heels.
5. Coastal Carolina: Big South: Predicted to finish fifth: Coastal Carolina will have a couple of local girls playing this years whom transferred. Cedrica Gibson of Oak-Ridge Academy- St.Johns and Khadejah Wilkerson of Greensboro Day-Appalachian State should provide immediate help at the point guard and forward position respectively. Gibson rarely played during her first year at St. Johns while averaging .02 ppg and 5 mpg in 9 games. Wilkerson played in 18 games at Appalachian averaging 1.4 ppg and 1.7 rpg. Both could help Coastal turn things around in the Big South.
6. Vanderbilt: SEC: Predicted to finish fifth: The Commodores played below 500 (7-9) in conference play and 18-13 overall. This could be a crucial year for Head Coach Bolcom and her staff. They bring in Paris Kea (Page) and a host of talented and returning players. Another less than 20 win season and a subpar 500 in conference play could heat things up in Nashville. Getting off to a good start with a soft non conference schedule should help. Vanderbilt travels to play Elon on December 14 which could be a matchup between Kea and Elons Shay Burnett.
6. Elon:CAA Conference: Predicted to finish sixth: Elon has moved from the Big South to the CAA which could be very interesting. Elon is loaded with local talent in Samantha Coffer(Northern Guilford 8.4 ppg), Lenaira Ruffin (River-mill) Academy 4.3 ppg), Autumn Carter(Rockingham 4.3 ppg). The addition of Shay Burnett (Southern Alamance) should provide Elon with a quality player that could start before the season is over. Vanderbilt and Paris Kea comes to town on December 14.Winning 20 games this year should be a great step in the right direction. Vanderbilt and Paris Kea comes to town on December 14th.
7. North Carolina Asheville University: Big South: Predicted to finish seventh: Ashville made tremendous strides under Head Coach Brenda Kirkpatrick. They won 11 games. The most in three years. Brittany Gwynn (High Point Central) enters her final year and was the teams third leading scorer averaging 8.6 pp while shooting 29% from the field and 77% from the charity stripe. Has battled back from knee injuries to become a vital part of Ashville team chemistry. A 500 season would be a major jump and finishing in the top 5 of the conference would be excellent. Travels to play North Carolina A&T on November 18th. Brittany return to the Triad area.
8. Radford University: Big South: Predicted to finish eight: Radford made great strides this past season and is looking to improve and move up in the top tier of the conference. That could be a tall order but is achievable. Kierra McIvor(Dudley) played extensive minutes last season and should provide senior leadership. She averaged a career high 5.6 ppg and 5 rpg. Shot 36% from the field and 56% from the charity stripe. The team needs to get off to a great start or past results could raise its ugly head again. Winning 10-15 games is very reasonable. Travels to Boone to play Appalachian State on November 30th.
8. Binghamton: American East: Predicted to finish eight: Imani Watkins (Andrews) will carry her skill set to help Binghamton to improve over last years record. A new coach has been hired and there is a chance that she could see action. The Bearcats face Stony Brook on January 5th and get to face off against another local triad player in Miranda Jenkins in conference play.
9. North Carolina State: ACC: Predicted to finish ninth: State comes off an impressive season and looks to overthrow the likes of Duke and North Carolina. Akela Maize (New Hope Christian Academy) will have to up her productivity to be a factor in helping to assure States climb. State has receive votes in the top 25 in country. They have an excellent coach and staff. Kelly Moser (Burlington Williams) a walk on a year ago has earn a scholarship. She is a .08 career scorer that provides good team chemistry and academics. This will be a very interesting year for State which could go either way. 25 wins a year ago. Samantha Coffer and Elon gets to visit Reynolds Coliseum December 7th.
10. North Carolina Central: MEAC: Predicted to finish tenth. One of the most improve teams in the MEAC and have a lot to work with this coming season. The players are buying into the system and are poise to improve again this season. Imani Atkinson (Greensboro Day) should see spot minutes and hard nose defense when call upon. Look for Central to pull a few upsets along the way. Central comes to visit A&T ON February 7th.