Women's NJCAA D1 Rankings And More
Young basketball players always dream big. Even as they chase glory during the senior year of high school, they are already thinking about moving up to the next level.
A handful of players enjoy D-1 offers. However, for most just getting an opportunity to continue playing is a blessing, one that they want to make the most of. The gyms and crowds are smaller at the junior college level, but these two-year schools offer many a chance to extend a career and even take the next necessary step.
For two particular freshmen, the 2020-2021 NJCAA Division 1 Women’s season offered such an opportunity. The campuses of Georgia Highlands College (Rome, GA) and Eastern Arizona College (Thatcher, AZ) provided the backdrop for that next necessary step.
Perhaps the vision in their dreams differed for Jashanti Simmons (Georgia Highlands) and Catarina Ferriera (Eastern Arizona) but the game is still the same, regardless of where it is played.
Let’s keep in mind that last October, it wasn’t clear there would be college basketball at all. Strict COVID protocols remained in place in many states, and as the season got underway most players explained they were relieved just to be allowed to compete.
That included the players in JUCO Women’s basketball. On the campuses of the three schools previously mentioned, these freshmen seized the opportunity to stand out.
At the end of the season, Simmons, and Ferriera earned positions as the only freshmen named as first- or second-team All-Americans following the unorthodox 2020-2021 season.
Simmons, a 5’8” guard, averaged just over 18 PPG and pulled in an impressive 6.1 boards per contest, good for second best on her Georgia Highlands team. Simmons also took home the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association (GCAA) awards for Player and Freshman of the Year after leading her team to an impressive 21-4 record. The Lady Chargers reached the sweet sixteen of the NJCAA tournament in Lubbock, falling to South Plains College of Levelland, TX.
Ferriera, a 6’1” guard, took home Arizona Community College Athletic Conference (ACCAC) First Team, All-Region, and Freshman of the Year honorsafter leading her Lady Gila Monsters to a 16-2 record. Ferriera slashed 40%/31%/81% and pulled down 5.7 RPG for EAC. Born in Sao Paulo, Ferriera led her team to the Elite Eight in Lubbock in 2021, falling to third-ranked Chipola in a tight contest in which Chipola hit a late game-winner to knock Ferriera’s Monsters out of the tournament. Ferriera poured in thirty points in the effort, including hitting twelve of thirteen from the line.
And while each of these players finished short of a national title, their necessary next steps saw the freshmen receive considerable attention to play for those dreamed powerhouses. For her part, Simmons committing to Troy of the Sun Belt starting next year. If Ferreria keeps up her pace, she can expect some D-1 visits as well.
The years 2020 and 2021 saw a lot of dreams change for athletes of all sports. For these players, the perseverance, remarkable talent, and love of the game saw their grand ambition come to fruition, with well-deserved attention materializing due to outstanding on-court play. As a new season begins, another crop of freshmen are aiming to reach similar heights.
Here's our early ranking of the top NJCAA women’s contenders:
1. Northwest Florida State College (Niceville, FL) ’20-’21 Record: 24-2 (15-1 Conf.)
’20-’21 NJCAA champs hold the top spot for now.
2. Tyler Junior College (Tyler, TX) ’20-’21 Record: 23-5 (13-3 Conf.)
Four of last year’s five top scorers return to this potent lineup, including outstanding trio of Powell, Laccen, and Wills.
3. Chipola College (Marianna, FL) ’20-’21 Record: 20-5 (12-4 Conf.)
Can perennial powerhouse replace the departed scoring pair of Brown and Sousa?
4. Jones College (Ellisville, MS) ’20-’21 Record: 20-1 (13-0 Conf.)
Returning guard Jakayla Johnson is one of the most complete scorers in the nation; put up nearly sixteen a game in ’20-’21.
5. New Mexico Junior College (Hobbs, NM) ’20-’21 Record: N/A
Despite foregoing ’20-’21 season due to COVID-19, Thunderbirds boast returner Mariama Sow suiting up alongside transfers Lewis and Juzzo.
6. Shelton State Community College (Tuscaloosa, AL) ’20-’21 Record: 21-5 (11-0 Conf.)
Highly-skilled center Ke’Ajia Williams anchors the Buccaneers squad.
7. South Plains College (Levelland, TX) ’20-’21 Record: 20-4 (13-2 Conf.)
Loss of Hunter and Reis a huge blow
8. Three Rivers College (Poplar Bluff, MO) ’20-’21 Record: 24-1 (13-0 Conf.)
This team is going to be dangerous. Four starters return from semifinal ’20 – ’21 team, including Region XVI Player of the Year, Chaylea Mosby.
9. South Georgia Technical College (Americus, GA) ’20-’21 Record: 22-4 (13-2 Conf.)
Georgia coaching stalwart James Frey helms Lady Jets once again.
10. Casper College (Casper, WY) ’20-’21 Record: 22-2 (14-0 Conf.)
Winners of their region four years running, Thunderbirds are stacked; averaged nearly eighty-five a game as a team last season, second best in the nation.
11. Trinity Valley Community College (Athens, TX) ’20-’21 Record: 22-3 (13-2 Conf.)
’20-’21 runners-up return point guard Alexis Brown and feature 6’3 freshman forward Morgan Hill.
12. Georgia Highlands College (Rome, GA) ’20-’21 Record: 21-4 (14-1 Conf.)
First team all-American Jashanti Simmons leads a powerful scoring squad.
13. Wabash Valley College (Mount Carmel, IL) ’20-’21 Record: 21-4 (15-0 Conf.)
Roster is loaded with transfer talent, especially in guards Daijah Smith and Shaulana Wagner.
14. Western Nebraska Community College (Scottsbluff, NE) ’20-’21 Record: 17-6 (10-3 Conf.)
Guards Ashley Panem and Ale’jah Douglas return to feature alongside transfer Amani Brown.
15. Weatherford College (Weatherford, TX) ’20-’21 Record: 16-8 (9-7 Conf.)
Second-best shooting team in the nation from the floor a season ago returns absolutely dominant guard Jasmyne Robinson.
16. Eastern Arizona College (Thatcher, AZ) ’20-’21 Record: 17-3 (18-2 Conf.)
Second-team All-American Catarina Ferriera is one to keep an eye on.
17. Butler Community College (El Dorado, KS) ’20-’21 Record: 20-4 (18-2 Conf.)
Stifling defensive team led the nation a year ago in limiting opponent’s field goal percentage to an astonishing 30.6 percent per game.
18. Hill College (Hillsboro, TX) ’20-’ 21 Record: 20-3 (14-2 Conf.)
’20-’21 squad finished third in the nation in margin of victory at just under seventeen per game; tenth in the nation in steals.
19. Florida SouthWestern State College (Fort Meyers, FL) ’20-’21 Record: 13-6 (6-3 Conf.)
Deep roster regularly blew teams out in ’20-’21; returns core of Marc, Bryson, and Tollie
20. Moberly Area Community College (Moberly, MO) ’20-’21 Record: 18-6 (10-3 Conf.)
Coach Hana Haden leads team filled with talented sophomores, led by defensive rock Bi’Anna Pettis.
21. Hutchinson Community College (Hutchinson, KS) ’20-’21 Record: 19-5 (17-5 Conf.)
Team can really shoot it from three, especially with guards Alford and Suttington.
22. Walters State Community College (Morristown, TN) ’20-’21 Record: 13-4 (9-3 Conf.)
Fantastic defensive squad held ’20-’21 opponents to just over fifty-two points per contest, good for fourth best in the nation.
23. College of Southern Idaho (Twin Falls, ID) ’20-’21 Record: 19-6 (11-4 Conf.)
Impressive incoming class includes 6’5 C Emilia Nworie and 6’3 Alyssa Christensen.
24. Eastern Oklahoma State College (Wilburton, OK) ’20-’21 Record: 18-5 (13-3 Conf.)
’20-’21 team that nearly upset Three Rivers in tournament returns sharpshooting backcourt of Polk and Henry.
25. Independence Community College (Montgomery County, KS) ’20-’21 Record: 20-7 (18-6 Conf.)
Returning guard Maisa Marcal helped break twenty-five year school drought in NJCAA tournament.
Junior Colleges in the state of California do not participate in the NCJAA and thus, are not ranked in accordance.
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