The NCAA event boasts an distinctive freshman class this yr, together with a set of upperclassmen who’ve hit a brand new groove. With the fast progress of ladies’s faculty basketball viewership, they’re all poised to compete on a bigger stage than ever.
Last season, South Carolina beat UConn within the most-watched ladies’s title recreation since 2004. The momentum carried by way of this season, as South Carolina’s defeat of LSU grew to become the most-watched regular-season women’s college basketball game since 2010. Like all season, South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston, LSU’s Angel Reese, Iowa’s Caitlin Clark and Villanova’s Maddy Siegrist are must-see stars.
Here are further gamers we’re excited to look at within the event — in no specific order.
[Free bracket contests for both tourneys | Printable Women’s | Men’s]
Aaliyah Edwards, UConn
16.6 ppg, 9.2 rpg
Edwards gained the Big East’s Most Improved Player award earlier this month for a cause. The Huskies’ damage woes have impacted the entire group, with Paige Bueckers (knee) and Ice Brady (knee) already out for the season. Azzi Fudd returned for the Big East event after lacking 22 video games with a knee damage. Sustaining a foot damage and a damaged nostril, Edwards has stepped up for UConn.
She got here into the season with simply three profession double-doubles, all from her freshman marketing campaign. She has recorded 14 this season. Aside from being named the Most Outstanding Player of the Big East event, she’s considered one of 10 finalists for the 2023 Naismith Player of the Year award. The No. 2 seed (Seattle 3) Huskies will look to Edwards as they appear to win their twelfth NCAA title.
Zia Cooke, South Carolina
15.3 ppg, 1.7 rpg
Like Aliyah Boston, Brea Beal and head coach Dawn Staley, Cooke has racked up loads of awards and recognition for her position within the 32-0 reigning champions’ success. Last season, she was even honored along with her personal avenue in her hometown of Toledo. Her senior season has seen a lift in effectivity, which makes her that rather more enjoyable to look at.
She is recording profession highs of 47.9% efficient field-goal proportion and 79.7% from the free-throw line, the place she has landed extra incessantly than ever this season (4 free-throw makes an attempt per recreation). Arguably crucial enchancment for the No. 1 seed (Greenville 1) Gamecocks, she’s averaging a career-low 1.7 turnovers per recreation.
Flau’jae Johnson, LSU
11.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg
When LSU defeated Georgia to advance to the SEC event semifinals, Johnson stepped up with stable capturing and necessary defensive boards. She went 5-of-7 from 3, including to her spectacular 21 factors and eight rebounds. Playing with upperclassmen stars in Angel Reese and Alexis Morris, the freshman was praised by head coach Kim Mulkey for her evolution right into a assured and relaxed participant.
Johnson can also be a rapper. She’ll incorporate the aptitude of entertainer into her play when the No. 3 seed (Greenville 2) Tigers go dancing.
Cotie McMahon, Ohio State
14.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg
McMahon does all of it for the No. 3 seed (Seattle 3) Buckeyes. This was on show through the Big Ten event, the place she recorded two double-doubles and two 20-point performances in three games. Across that span, McMahon averaged 21 factors, 11 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.7 steals and 1.3 blocks. She was named to the all-tournament group after capturing 40% from 3 on solely 5 makes an attempt and 50% from the sector. She’s additionally environment friendly on the free-throw line, making 82.6% of her makes an attempt.
With a deep vary and the flexibility to complete within the paint, she’ll proceed to be tough to defend.
Mackenzie Holmes, Indiana
22.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg
Holmes is not only a top quality scorer, she’s additionally powerful on protection. She led the No. 1 seed (Greenville 2) Hoosiers in scoring for greater than 20 video games this season and has recorded double-figure factors in each matchup. Snatching a career-high 5.2 defensive rebounds per recreation, her 1.9 blocks per recreation rank second within the Big Ten and earned her the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
The Naismith College Player of the Year semifinalist and John R. Wooden Award finalist demonstrated her method to enjoying contained in the paint throughout an ESPN section final month:
Alissa Pili, Utah
20.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg
Pili made historical past for the No. 2 seed (Greenville 2) Utes when she was named this system’s first Pac-12 Player of the Year. She leads the convention in scoring, placing up double figures in all however one recreation this season, together with 16 with at the very least 20 factors. She gained the identical award for a stellar 2019-20 season at USC and transferred to Utah after damage restricted her enjoying time. Now, she’s additionally a semifinalist for the 2023 Naismith Trophy College Player of the Year and John R. Wooden Award finalist.
Desi-Rae Young, UNLV
18.2 ppg, 10.2 rpg
Young is the primary participant in Mountain West historical past to common 18-plus factors, 10-plus rebounds and shoot higher than 60%. She led the convention in double-doubles with 17, when nobody else within the convention had greater than 9. Earlier this month, she gained the convention event MVP award as she led her group to its second consecutive Mountain West title with 28 factors and 17 rebounds.
After her main position within the No. 11 seed (Greenville 2) UNLV’s success final season, she has improved in each statistical class. This season, she’s a finalist for the Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player of the Year award by Her Hoop Stats.