Look, the season didn’t end like we all hoped it would for the Wolfpack Women’s Basketball squad. Without Kayla Jones and stuck at the Sweet Sixteen round yet again, it was easy to be heartbroken.
Here’s the thing…the best is yet to come.
State won another ACC Tournament, got their first ever 1-seed, has Coach of the Year at the helm, with a multitude of awards and nominations up and down the lineup. And signs are pointing to a literal return to greatness next year.
Jones and Crutchfield to Return
With their roles as the teams veteran leaders, both Jones and Crutchfield stepped up in big ways. In nearly every statistical category they’ve improved year over year; points, rebounds, steals, blocks, you name it. However, their roles and worth to the team go beyond the stat sheet. Crutchfield had moments of perfection on defense and every three-pointer seemed to be desperately needed and perfectly timed. Jones, even injured, was the vocal leader of the team and single-handedly brought the energy.
And both will be back…
A couple of developments pointed us to the roster staying nearly 100% intact from last season.
First, Jada Rice, Elle Sutphin and Dontavia Waggoner transferred out. The latter two were in serious competition for minutes. What’s most interesting is Sutphin, which assuming that Jones left and Boyd takes her spot, would have seen a direct minutes increase.
Second, neither player was listed on WNBA draft entrants. Granted, more likely both would play abroad if they were to turn pro, than the WNBA.
Third, the catch all “let’s win this thing” thought. I don’t think either leaves with that Indiana game being their last showing. Their pro stock immediately rises if this team goes next level and both players continue to improve as they have.
Returning Everybody Else
Just look at this team, even without the above mentioned players.
- Elissa Cunane – All-American, First-Team ACC, just the quintessential building block for any program in the country.
- Jada Boyd – ACC Sixth Player of the Year, NCAAT All-Tourney Team, unbelievable breakout potential even though she’s already a stud
- Raina Perez – Simply…a cold-blooded killer
- Jakia Brown-Turner – All-ACC First Team, felt as though as the season went on she found her groove
- Camille Hobby – Solid player that logged big minutes as substitute for Cunane
- Genesis Bryant – Stepped up HUGE in NCAAT and should see much more action next year
Solid Freshman on Their Way
State has two ESPN-100 recruits on their way. Aziaha James, is a 4-star guard that is super athletic and has the ability to drive to the rim (something State could use more of). She’s confident and will have a year to learn under Perez to better her court vision. Sophia Hart is another 4-star recruit that State fans are going to love watch develop. When the one constant description is “hardworking, blue-collar, low-post player”, you know Moore is going to elevate her game. Same height as Cunane and similar playing style, as well.
These two couldn’t be better pick-ups to learn and then continue State’s winning ways.
The season just ended, but there is SO MUCH to look forward to.