D1 Women's Update: 5 HBCUs to Watch this Season
Over the past few seasons, women’s basketball programs from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have made some serious noise. After decades plagued by non-conference struggles and failures to make the NCAA Tournament, these teams prove hungrier than ever to earn their rightful spots among the nation’s best programs. As you gear up for the 2022-2023 Women’s Collegiate Basketball season, keep your eye on these five HBCUs with particularly exciting futures.
In the 2021-2022 season, the Howard University Bison posted a 21-10 overall record going 11-3 in conference play and defending their home court with an impressive 9-2 record. The Bison really picked up steam in the second half of their season, going 12-3 in their last 15 outings. Over the course of the season, the team on average outscored, out-rebounded, out-stole, and out-blocked their opponents. Howard will retain 4 of their 5 top scorers and add a pair of guards to the roster for the upcoming season, consisting of graduate transfer Aziah Hudson and high school standout Tyana “Ty” Walker. Both of these additions will add depth to help raise the program in hopes of competing for a championship
After losing the first 4 games of their 2021-2022 season, the Morgan State Bears stepped up to go 18-4 for the rest of the season, earning an overall 18-8 record complete with 9 home-court wins. Although they outperformed their opponents in several disciplines, they controlled the ball particularly well. On average, they forced the other team into 6 more turnovers per game than they gave up. Building upon a solid returning group, the Bears will add a talented incoming class including two freshmen, and three transfers. This balance of additions will add offensive and defensive prowess in the freshman, and valuable experience in the transfers, two of whom are graduate students.
Going 15-15, the Alabama State women’s basketball team had a decent season last year. Despite struggles on the road, the team boasted a 9-2 record at home and even made it to the finals of the SWAC tournament where they lost to Jackson State for the second consecutive year. However, the Hornets are likely to improve their standing from last year with the addition of a talented recruiting class. Most notably, the Hornets will welcome the reigning Alabama Gatorade Player of the Year in Samiya Steele. Steele also earned the award of Alabama Miss Basketball after leading her high school team to a 34-0 record and a Class 6A state championship. Expect exciting things from this team in the future.
The Jackson State had a stellar 2021-2022 season. They dominated their conference, going 18-0 for the season. Overall, the team posted a 23-7 record. They won many games by large margins, winning games by an average of 17 points. As a group, the women shot 44% from the field, and 30% from the 3-point line.They comfortably won the SWAC tournament earning a bid to the NCAA Women’s March Madness where they fell in a close first round battle against the LSU Tigers. Although they are losing star player Amyesha Williams who was selected in the third round in this year’s WNBA Draft, there are many returning players poised to step up to fill this gap. These trusted returners and new recruits will attempt a run at another NCAA Championship Bid.
With a dominant 11-3 conference record last season, the Norfolk State Spartans finished the season 17-12 overall. Their aggressive play style made them an exciting team to watch as they averaged 12.3 steals per game and 4.3 blocks, nearly doubling their opponents in both categories. Brimming with young talent, the Spartans will return the majority of the key contributors from last season including top scorer Deja Francis. Their incoming class for the 2022-2023 season will only add depth to an already strong core who will build off of last year’s success in hopes of making a run in the postseason.
HBCUs have been an exciting, yet underrated component of the collegiate basketball scene for an extremely long time. As these teams continue to develop and improve, expect HBCUs to emerge as serious contenders for repeated NCAA postseason campaigns.
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