D1 Women's Update - The Best Who Didn't Dance
The media swirled during the 2022 Women’s NCAA March Madness Tournament showcasing standout players. Although we saw stars from 68 teams bring their best to the big dance, plenty of others did not have the opportunity to go dancing. Let's take look at some excellent players from teams who did not get a bid to this year’s tournament:
Veronica Burton impressed as one of the most well-rounded guards in the NCAA. Although the senior for the Northwestern Wildcats ruthlessly scored 17.8 points per game, she also exhibited selflessness and trust with 6.4 assists per game. In addition to her offensive prowess, Burton entered a selective club after she became the second three-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. She had 4.1 steals per game, accumulating a total of 111 over the course of the season. This 2021-2022 season was the final bow at the end of her already accomplished career.
Haley Cavinder, a junior for the Fresno State Bulldogs, stands out in the Mountain West League. Famous for her social media presence long before attending Fresno State, Cavinder has been living up to the hype. She averaged 19.8 points and 9.4 rebounds per game to earn all-conference honors.
Navy’s Jennifer Coleman displayed skillful dominance as a two-way player for the Mid’s this season. The senior averaged a magnificent 22.2 points and 10.7 rebounds per game to earn All-League first team and Defensive Player of the Year honors. She set several program records throughout the season including scoring, total rebounds, defensive rebounds, and minutes played, ending the season nationally ranked in several categories.
This Paladins super senior owned both ends of the court, scoring 18.1 points per game in addition to 11.8 rebounds. She also improved her free throw percentage to an impressive 83.1% creating a foul threat for opposing teams. She earned Southern Conference Player of the Year honors by both the conference committee and the media- – the first for Fuhrman since 2003. Her impact as an all-around player is indisputable.
Mississippi State’s Rickea Jackson asserted herself as a force for the Bulldogs this season. In her junior campaign, she posted her best numbers yet. Her formidable 20.3 points per game caught the attention of several other universities once she announced her entrance into the transfer portal. She will be joining the Tennessee program next season, where she will make an exciting addition to the Lady Vols program.
LaBarbera plays the guard position for the Holy Cross Crusaders. In her 2021-2022 campaign, she had an outstanding 18 double-double performances, averaging a career-high 16.4 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. She dominated the Patriot League to earn Patriot League Player of the Year, All-Defensive Team, and player of the week on three separate occasions.
Mulkey had a lot of obstacles stacked against her when she transferred into the Pac-12 to play for the University of Washington for her graduate season. The 6’9 center thrived in her final season, averaging 3 blocks and 10.6 points per game. She garnered the attention of the Pac-12 committee who awarded her performance with honorable mention selections to both the all-defensive and all-Pac-12 teams.
Savannah Wheeler is one of the greatest scoring talents in CUSA Conference history. She regularly led her team at Marshall to unlikely victories, amassing six 30-point games for an average of 20.3 points per game. At the end of the season, Wheeler earned 1st team all-league honors for the final time to cap off an astounding career.
The NCAA is brimming with talent. Although the tournament culminates the season in a truly entertaining fashion, talent runs deeper than the 68-team bracket. If we aim to view the full swath of talent throughout the NCAA, we must look at the amazing players on teams who missed out on the limited bids.
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