Women’s college basketball 2022-23: The players and coaches we’re excited to see
From super sophomores to key transfers, here are nine players and four coaches to keep an eye on this season
As the start of another exciting women’s college basketball season looms, the top players in the country and their respective programs are readying to stake their claims as the sport’s best. Another season of college hoops means another year of expected incredible individual performances from household talents such as South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston and Stanford’s Haley Jones. These are players likely already on your radar.
We’d like to expand that radar a bit.
This is a list of players who you should keep your eye on for the 2022-23 season – some players whose résumés might have already caught your attention and others whose games demand your attention. Above all, these are just some of the players we’re simply excited to watch hoop.
Also featured are a group of Black coaches whose teams are primed for a successful year. Keep an eye on their programs as the season progresses.
The showtime sophomore guards
As freshmen, this group of talented guards led their respective teams with incredibly strong first-year performances. As defenses adjust and teams tailor their game plans for these talented rising stars, how will they respond as sophomores?
Rori Harmon, Texas
Harmon’s presence in a game is felt every single second she is on the court for the Longhorns. She’s a quick and explosive player on offense and a tenacious on-ball defender. That proficiency on both ends allows her to always have an impact on the floor. Harmon was last year’s Big 12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player, Big 12 Freshman of the Year and an Big 12 All-Defensive Team selection. She averaged 11.4 points besides leading the Big 12 in steals and setting the Texas single-season assists record for a freshman (180).
Shayeann Day-Wilson, Duke
In Day-Wilson, Duke head coach Kara Lawson has found her program’s cornerstone talent. The 5-foot-6 guard made an immediate impact on the Blue Devils during her freshman campaign and would end the season leading the team in both points (12.7) and assists (3.7). Day-Wilson, last season’s ACC Freshman of the Year, is a special talent, and when she finds a comfortable rhythm on the floor becomes a lethal scorer who can finish against larger defenders in the paint, convert her smooth midrange jumper and confidently step into any shot around the perimeter.
Jayda Curry, Cal
Curry, who became the first freshman in Pac-12 history to lead the conference in scoring last season, has a deep offensive bag and can score from multiple spots on the floor. She averaged 18.6 points, 2.8 assists and 1.4 steals in year one and was voted Pac-12 Freshman of the Year by the media. Curry said this offseason she’s emphasized the defensive end as she pushes to establish herself as an improved two-way player.
Olivia Miles, Notre Dame
Miles is one of the most entertaining players in college basketball and arguably the best passer in the country. The 5-10 guard is a stat-sheet stuffer for the Fighting Irish who averaged 13.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 7.4 assists last season. Miles, who was selected to the All-ACC First Team last season, plays with a flair that keeps opponents and audiences on their toes with each possession. In December 2021, she became the second freshman in school history to record a triple-double. When March Madness rolled around, she became the first player in college basketball, men’s or women’s, to record a triple-double in the NCAA tournament in 2022.
Potential impact transfer
Jasmine Franklin, Tennessee
Before tearing her ACL just 11 games into the 2021-22 season, Franklin was well on her way to having another great year for Missouri State. She posted eight double-doubles and was averaging 14.9 points and 12.1 rebounds for the Bears following a junior season in which she was named All-MVC First Team and MVC Defensive Player of the Year before transferring to the University of Tennessee.
Franklin rejoins Tennessee coach Kellie Harper, who recruited her to Missouri State. Franklin is a ball magnet in the low post and Harper will look to Franklin to help maintain the Lady Vols’ strong presence on the boards where they ranked first in the SEC last season. In Franklin, Tennessee gets an experienced competitor who could become a great complementary piece to the frontcourt rotation and have a sizable impact on a Vols team looking to make a jump.
Mid-major player to watch
Tishara Morehouse, Florida Gulf Coast
While Kierstan Bell has been the face of the Florida Gulf Coast program the last two seasons, her running mate on those Eagles teams was guard “TK” Morehouse. With Bell now playing in the WNBA, the team is in the hands of the 5-3 Morehouse. When Bell missed nine games last season, Morehouse powered the team to an 8-1 record during that stretch, averaging 18.3 points.
Morehouse will lead her Atlantic Sun favorite FGCU team as the preseason selection for conference player of the year. Morehouse is an incredibly crafty player who uses her quickness to create off the dribble, and despite her height disadvantage she can convert against larger defenders. The fifth-year guard is a career 32.6% 3-point shooter.
Freshman to watch
Ta’Niya Latson, Florida State
Latson was the top-rated shooting guard and the No. 14 overall player in the Class of 2022. Latson is an electric player to watch hoop. She’s a quick and physical guard who has a knack for getting to the paint and finishing around the rim with strength.
Florida State head coach Brooke Wyckoff mentioned during ACC media day that her team will play with more pace and space this season and Latson, who Wyckoff said the team will depend on for a lot this year, should fit right into that system. As good as Latson is on offense, her defensive skills are equally intriguing. She can stealthily pick a player’s pocket on the perimeter or, at 5-9, can elevate as a formidable shot-blocker.
Player who can raise her draft stock
Laeticia Amihere, South Carolina
Amihere is one of the most versatile players on a deeply talented South Carolina roster. She’s a long, athletic 6-4 presence that plays with a guard mentality. Amihere plays without fear on the court, unafraid to approach any challenge on either end of the floor head-on. This, coming from a player who has overcome two ACL injuries during her career.
Amihere had an impressive showing at the FIBA World Cup in September representing Team Canada against some of the best talent in the world, averaging 7.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.0 blocks over eight games.
Amihere excels when she is able to slow her game down and allow the flow of play to come to her instead of forcing the action. Offensively, she has shown she can attack off the dribble, is an improving facilitator and can get to the line. She’s a dynamic defender with the ability to block shots and guard multiple positions. Her statistical output hasn’t reflected the potential she has at the next level, but there’s every reason to believe that this could be the year Amihere makes that jump.
Player whose game needs a bigger spotlight
Quay Miller, Colorado
When Quay Miller was selected as the winner of the Pac-12’s Sixth Player of the Year award last season, becoming the University of Colorado’s first player to earn the honor, she was grateful for the honor but soon asked of herself, what’s next? Miller, who transferred to Colorado in 2021 from Washington, is a high-energy player who can play with her back to the basket, finish in transition and has shown a steady improvement as a 3-point threat. Last season, while playing just under 20 minutes off the bench, Miller averaged 10.6 points on 50.4% shooting, 5.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals.
In the absence of players such as forward Peanut Tuitele, who transferred to Cal this summer, and Mya Hollingshed, who led Colorado in scoring and rebounding before being drafted to the WNBA, Miller will play a larger role for Colorado this season.
Power 5 coaches to watch
Niele Ivey (Notre Dame) and Kenny Brooks (Virginia Tech)
Entering the 2022-23 season, the ACC has made a strong claim to being the top conference in college basketball. Notre Dame coach Niele Ivey’s and Virginia Tech coach Kenny Brooks’ programs play a big role in the prowess of the conference.
Brooks is in his seventh year at the helm of Virginia Tech, a team anchored by All-Americans Elizabeth Kitley, the preseason ACC Player of the Year, and Ashley Owusu, who transferred from Maryland over the summer. All-ACC talent and fellow transfer from Boston College Taylor Soule, as well as underrated Hokies point guard Georgia Amoore, round out a talented Virginia Tech team that enters the season with its highest preseason ranking in program history.
In South Bend, Indiana, Ivey returns a bulk of her core players from last season, including Dara Mabrey, Sonia Citron, Maddy Westbeld and Olivia Miles. In two years, Ivey was able to restore a Notre Dame program that went from finishing 13-18 in 2019-20 to just missing a trip to last year’s Elite Eight. This offseason, she added transfers Lauren Ebo from the University of Texas, Kylee Watson from Oregon (whom Ivey has described as a difference-maker) and Jenna Brown from Stanford. Touted freshman guard KK Bransford should also make an impact on the floor for the Fighting Irish.
Mid-major coach to watch
Alex Simmons, Gardner-Webb
Since taking the reins at Gardner-Webb in 2018, Alex Simmons has had her program trending in the right direction. Last season, the Runnin’ Bulldogs finished with a 13-5 conference record, their best conference winning percentage since 2009-10, and missed an appearance in the Big South semifinal in a one-point loss to top-ranked Campbell.
This could be the year Gardner Webb and Simmons take their next leap. The team returns most of its core from a year ago, which spearheaded one of the top offenses in the conference. The Runnin’ Bulldogs are led by junior forward Alasia Smith, the Big South preseason Player of the Year, who averaged 14.5 points and 9.2 rebounds last season. Simmons, who signed a contract extension in March, will try to lead her team to its first conference title since 2011.
HBCU coach to watch
Larry Vickers, Norfolk State
Despite entering the 2021-22 season with 10 new players on their roster, Larry Vickers and the Norfolk State Spartans managed to post one of the best overall seasons they’ve had as a program since joining the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in the 1997-98 season. Norfolk State ended the year tied for first in the conference for the first time in team history and made it to the MEAC tournament final before falling to Howard. Vickers believed his team was a year ahead of schedule.
This season, they returned nine players, including their two All-MEAC First Team performers from a season ago in senior guard Deja Francis and graduate student guard Camille Downs, who was also tabbed as the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year. Behind Vickers, who has led the team during its most successful era as a Division I program, Norfolk is on a mission to hoist its first MEAC championship trophy since 2002.