From true freshmen to early enrollees to transfers, these 10 players made an immediate impact in women's college basketball this season.
Some of them are new to college and some of them are playing with a new team, but all of them will play a crucial role this month as the NCAA women's tournament tips off Sunday.
Kierstan Bell, Florida Gulf Coast, G, 6-1, Soph.: After spending her freshman year at Ohio State, Bell led the Eagles as she became the unanimous Atlantic Sun Player of The Year. She is fifth in the country with 24.3 points per game and is one of a few players nationally to average a double double (10.8 rebounds).
Katie Benzan, Maryland, G, 5-6, Sr.: The Harvard transfer is the best sharpshooter in the game, leading the nation with a 50.6% 3-point percentage. The All-Big Ten second-team member averages 13.3 points a game, shoots 93.5% from the free throw line and leads the team with 1.6 steals a game.
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Cameron Brink, Stanford, F, 6-4, Fr.: The two-time gold medalist with USA Basketball (winning the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup and the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup) was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team and All-Pac-12 honorable mention. She averages 10.2 points a game, shoots 58.2% from the field and ranks 13th nationally in blocks with 64.
Paige Bueckers, Connecticut, G, 5-11, Fr.:A candidate for National Player of the Year, Bueckers acts like a veteran, hitting clutch shots and rallying her team whenever necessary. She’s a tremendous facilitator, and has grown significantly as a defender. The Big East Player and Freshman of the Year, Bueckers averages 19.7 points, 6.1 assists (ranking ninth in the nation), 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 steals while shooting 53.9% from the field and 47.4% from deep.
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Guard Paige Bueckers took UConn and the Big East by storm as a freshman. (Photo: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)
DiJonai Carrington, Baylor, G, 5-11, Sr.:A graduate transfer from Stanford, Carrington was named the unanimous Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and Sixth Person of the Year after coming off the bench in 22 of 23 games. She averages 13.5 points and 4.7 rebounds.
Caitlin Clark, Iowa, G, 6-0, Fr.: Luka Garza may get all the national attention, but Clark has been the most impressive basketball player in Iowa City this season. The Big Ten Freshman of the Year leads the nation with 26.7 points per game and is second nationally with 7.2 assists a game.
Iowa guard Caitlin Clark leads the nation in scoring as a freshman. (Photo: Trevor Ruszkowski, USA TODAY Sports)
Charlisse Leger-Walker, Washington State, G, 5-10, Fr.: The New Zealand native joined her sister Krystal on the Palouse, and averaged 18.9 points per game — second in the Pac-12 — and 3.9 assists. She was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, was the first Cougar to be named All-Pac-12 and has Washington State in the tournament for the first time since 1991.
Raina Perez, N.C. State, G, 5-4, Sr.: After winning Big West Player of the Year at Cal State Fullerton, graduate transfer Perez ranks eighth in the country with a 2.92 assist-to-turnover ratio. She averages 9.1 points and 4.9 assists a game, and hit the game-winner against Louisville to win the ACC tournament title.
Talia von Oelhoffen, Oregon State, G, 5-11, Fr.: An early enrollee, von Oelhoffen’s impact was immediate. Instead of playing her senior year of high school, she’s become OSU’s first player off the bench, averaging 12.5 points and 3.9 rebounds. The Beavers have gone 8-3 since she joined in January, and she helped them secure a NCAA bid.
Destiny Slocum, Arkansas, G, 5-7, Sr.:The graduate transfer and former National Freshman of the Year is on her third school in four years after stops at Maryland and Oregon State, where she honed her scoring and passing skills. She’s thrived in Fayetteville, averaging 15.5 points and 4 assists per game while shooting 49.2% from the field.
Follow Lindsay Schell on Twitter @Lindsay_Schnell and Jordan Mendoza @jord_mendoza.
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