WNBA

Sensational Sophomores Ready to Take Over

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The sophomore class is arguably the most popular in women’s college basketball. A reigning National Player of the Year, maybe the most entertaining player in the country, another player with the same qualities with more opportunity and some players trying to make their mark on the college basketball world.

Paige Bueckers, UConn

The reigning National Player of the Year had arguably the best freshman season ever. She broke the UConn freshman single season assist record with 168. She averaged 20 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. Bueckers racked up awards, winning the Associated Press Player of the Year, Naismith Player of the Year, USBWA National Player of the Year and the John R. Wooden Award. She is the first freshman to receive those awards.

Bueckers has been one of the most polarizing and electrifying players since she was in high school. She is the most popular player in college sports and that comes with lots of eyes and expectations. She’s lived up to all but one so far, bringing a National Championship to UConn. Can she change recent history and bring one back to Storrs? Watch and find out.

Caitlin Clark, Iowa

The Co-Freshman of the Year, Clark quickly became must see television at Iowa. She has in-the-gym range and is an elite playmaker. She led the country in scoring with 26.6 points per game. Counting the NCAA Tournament, she had twelve 30-point games, including 5 in a row in February. She was fourth in the country with 6.9 assists per game, and recorded a triple double.

Clark took the country by storm and doesn’t plan on stopping. She wants to bring a National Championship to her home state Iowa. If she did the above in her freshman year, just imagine what she does this season. She won a gold medal with the USA U19 World Cup Team. You do not want to miss arguably the most entertaining player in college basketball.

Te-Hina Paopao, Oregon

The all-PAC-12 point guard had a tremendous freshman season, being the the fifth true freshman in the program’s history to make the team. She started every game and led the team in minutes until her injury before the conference tournament. Paopao was forced to miss that and the NCAA Tournament, though.

She averaged 10 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds as a 5’9 guard. She shoots the ball well, is a talented passer, and strong defender. She led all freshmen with a 2.40 assist-to-turnover ratio and led Oregon in steals. She also made the World Cup Team, so she is the one of the best young players in the country and can continue to grow against some of the best talent in the world.

Hailey Van Lith, Louisville

The ACC All-Freshman guard had high expectations going into her freshman season. She had to navigate with playing a WNBA talent in Dana Evans and did that well. Van Lith will be more of a focal point in the offense the next two to three years.

She was one of the only two players to average 30 minutes per game. HVL averaged 11 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists, which was top four on the team in those categories. She is a top-tier shooter and has a mesmerizing handle. She is one of the more popular players in college basketball, and rightfully so. This year, Van Lith should be able to really put her stamp on Louisville.

https://twitter.com/uoflwbb/status/1400588607497379844?s=21

Maddy Westbeld, Notre Dame

The First Team All-ACC forward quietly had a fantastic season. She wasn’t talked about a lot nationally, but ACC teams and fans know how talented she is, as she was named ACC Freshman of the Year.

Westbeld was the only freshman in the country to average 15 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.4 steals. She had six 20 point games and 3 double doubles. She shot a team best 38% from the three-point line as a 6’3 forward who is also extremely skilled in the post. Westbeld is versatile and a matchup nightmare. She can effectively score in the post, stretch the floor, create her own shot and set up others. She had highlights on defense as well. If she continues to improve on that side, watch out!

Diamond Reese, Maryland

The All-Big Ten freshman and 2020 number two recruit went down with a foot injury early, but was able to return after just two months. In her second game back, Reese led the team with 17 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 steals. She averaged 10 points and 6 rebounds in 15 games played.

Reese is versatile, athletic and tremendous on the defensive end. She will only continue to get better and possibly become on the top players in the country. Maryland is one of the best teams in the country and she could very well put them over the top in their efforts to win a national title.

Cameron Brink, Stanford

The All PAC-12 Freshman immediately put her imprint on the National Champion Stanford Cardinal. She started the last 20 games of the season, and they went undefeated with her in that role. Brink averaged 9.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game.

Brink set the Stanford single season blocks record with 88. She recorded 6 blocks in a game twice, including against South Carolina in the Final Four. She is talented on the offensive end as well, and at 6’4 she has he athleticism and size to do it all. The Cardinal bring back all but one player and added more talent. They will be a top team in the country, and Brink’s impact could help them win it all again.

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Lexi Donarski, Iowa State

The Big 12 Freshman of the Year showed just how talented of a scorer she is last season. Donarski started every game and averaged 13 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists. She shot 41% from the three point line, while making the most on the team with 53. She scored a career high of 32 points against TCU on 10-14 shooting, and over 15 points in six different games including 25 twice. She can score at every level and efficiently. She can become one of the top scorers in the country next to Ashley Joens.

Kamilla Cardoso, South Carolina

The 6’7 Co-ACC Defensive Player and Rookie of the Year impacted the game in a major way for Syracuse. Cardoso averaged 14 points, 8 rebounds, 2.8 blocks and led the ACC in field goal percentage at 59.5%. This off-season, she transferred from Syracuse to powerhouse South Carolina. She joins a team with their eyes on a national title and her presence could very well be the cherry on top. Her size is a mismatch for almost any team and she is one of the best defenders in the country.

 

About Tariq McDowell

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