ACC women's basketball notes: Elissa Cunane, transfers, WNBA mock drafts, stats
Revisiting some leftover Cunane quotes, a look at where ACC players are going in WNBA mock drafts, peeking at the transfer portal and a round-up of notes.
Welcome back to All in the Game, y’all. Yesterday I published a deep dive into what’s next for Virginia Tech’s women’s basketball team, and today I’m spanning the ACC with a big women’s basketball notebook.
To check out all of my women’s basketball coverage from 2019-20, click here.
Like I said in my intro post to this newsletter, I don’t know what is, what it’s going to be or what it’s going to turn into. But for the second time this week, I felt like writing about women’s basketball.
To start things off, I’m reaching in my notebook of unused quotes and pulling some out from a short piece I did for SLAM on N.C. State’s Elissa Cunane, who became an All-ACC First Team selection this year and a third-team All-American for the AP and USBWA.
Here’s a few notes that didn’t make the story:
On her height: “It’s been constant for me throughout my life. I’ve always been the tallest one in any of my classes. It really just stuck with me. I never had a true growth spurt. I got pretty used to being the tall girl in class.”
On watching UNC’s Erlana Larkins in the ACC tournament growing up: “I remember she played an ACC tournament game with a broken hand and I just really thought she was a tenacious player. So, I always looked up to her.”
On her pre-game Bible studies: “I think that’s just an important part of my game and helps me focus on the task at-hand. It’s definitely something I don’t think I can go a game without at this point.”
On Reynolds’ Coliseum: “Reynolds is absolutely beautiful. What it stands for — Kay Yow Court and Jim Valvano Arena — and all these aspects, it makes it a really special place to play for us and a really hard place to play for opponents.”
And now, the notebook…
Virginia Tech’s Trinity Baptiste announced on Twitter earlier this week that she would transfer to a school closer to home in Tampa, Florida. Baptiste has since deactivated her Twitter account, but I confirmed through a source that she is in the portal as a graduate transfer. Baptiste was voted as the 2020 ACC Sixth Player of the Year, averaging 9.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists per-game.
According to a source, Wake Forest sophomore Ellen Hahne is also in the transfer portal. The native of Sweden played less than five minutes per-game for the ‘Deacs this past season.
Pitt junior Kyla Nelson has entered the transfer portal, according to a source and a message she posted on Twitter. Nelson’s 2019-20 season was cut down to just four games after she had surgery and treatment for cancer. As a sophomore in the 2018-19 season, she was top scorer for Pitt and shot 40.4 percent from three-point range, which was fourth in the ACC.
Georgia Tech’s Ann Francoise Diouf is headed to James Madison as a graduate transfer, according to Shane Mettlen of the Daily News-Record. A 6-foot-4 native of Senegal, Diouf started the final 12 games of the season for Nell Fortner’s Yellow Jackets. She had four rebounds in Tech’s ACC tournament loss to N.C. State. Diouf joins Jasmine Carson and Daijah Jefferson as transfers leaving Georgia Tech. Carson has since committed to West Virginia and Jefferson is headed to George Mason.
It seems like Dara Mabrey and Kyra Lambert are still undecided as to where they will continue their collegiate careers. I wrote about both transfers previously for High Post Hoops.
Courtney Banghart’s UNC Tar Heels will get a boost next season from Petra Holešínská, a graduate transfer from Illinois. A 5-foot-10 native of the Czech Republic, Holešínská averaged 12.6 points per-game for the Illini this past season, a mark that led the team. Holešínská also averaged 2.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists and a steal per-game while shooting 41 percent from behind the arc. She could be a stellar compliment to UNC’s strong front-court duo of Janelle Bailey and Malu Tshitenge as an outside scoring threat.
Pitt had a strong end to Lance White’s second season on the job, upsetting Notre Dame in the ACC tournament for a foundation-setting victory. The core White carries into his third season is a strong one, with Dayshanette Harris, Amber Brown and Gabbie Green – but it got stronger earlier this week when Pittsburgh Sports Now reported that the Panthers landed New Mexico’s Jayla Everett, the 2019 Mountain West Freshman on the Year. Everett left New Mexico in January and announced she would be transferring. At the time, New Mexico head coach Mike Bradbury told the Albuquerque Journal, “Jayla’s a fiery competitor. It’s what makes her good. Sometimes it’s what makes her bad.” Everett was averaging 13.5 points per-game before she left. She is a former Missouri High School Player of the Year and a former Top 100 recruit. It’s unclear when she will be eligible to suit up for Pitt.
Random stats and notes
Who takes the scoring reins from Kiah Gillespie for Florida State next season? It might be Kourtney Weber. While the 5-foot-10 guard from New Orleans averaged just 4.7 points per-game this past year, she did increase her three-point shooting percentage by 9.1 points, finishing her sophomore campaign with a 37.8 percent mark, which was second-best on the team. With Gillespie, Nausia Woolfolk and Nicki Ekhomu gone, Weber should get more scoring chances next season.
There’s a reason to be optimistic about Wake Forest next season. The Deacs put up a great effort in the ACC tournament, upsetting North Carolina and Virginia Tech to finish their season 16-16. If not for the coronavirus, it’s likely they would’ve made the WNIT. The good news for Jen Hoover is that the stars of the show – Gina Conti and Ivana Raca – will be back for next season. Conti was sixth in the ACC in assists with 148 on the season and remained a stout defender. Raca, an All-ACC second team selection, averaged 17.1 points per-game and lit the ACC tournament on fire with per-game averages of 20.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and an assist while shooting 46 percent from three-point land. Raca was named to the All-Tournament First Team. Wake Forest was also strong as a team on the boards, collecting 1,271 rebounds this past season, which was second in the conference.
From Her Hoops Stats: Virginia’s Jocelyn Willoughby ranked in the top 10 percent in the nation in scoring efficiency, averaging 1.14 points each time she tried to shoot. As a senior for the ‘Hoos, she led the ACC in scoring with 19.2 points per-game.
I think I’ve written this stat before, but Duke’s Haley Gorecki was the only Power 5 conference player to average at least 18 points, 6.5 rebounds, four assists and two steals per-game. Had Sabrina Ionescu bolted to the WNBA last season, we might’ve talked about Gorecki as the most versatile player in the country. She was a big reason why Duke had a late season revival and surge, winning 11 of their last 14 regular season games. Gorecki was named a USBWA Third Team All-American, the first Blue Devil to earn such an honor since Elizabeth Williams in 2015. She was also a finalist for the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award, a first team All-ACC selection and became just the second player in ACC history to lead their team in points, rebounds and assists in back-to-back seasons. We never got see what Gorecki could do in the NCAA tournament, but we’ll likely be seeing more of her in the pros. (And check out this Adobe Spark project she put together on her career at Duke.)
ACC players in WNBA Mock Drafts
(substack wouldn’t let me paste in a table from Word, so here’s a screenshot.)
(still, check out the full three-round mock’s from High Post Hoops, ESPN, BBall-Index and Swish Appeal)
It’s pretty interesting that there’s a 14-spot difference in where some folks think Jazmine Jones could get drafted and a 12-spot difference in where Kiah Gillespie could go. It seems like the middle of this year’s draft could be very unpredictable.
SB Nation, CBS Sports and wInsidr each did mock drafts for only the first round. SB Nation and CBS Sports had Mompremier going at No. 8 to Chicago and wInsidr had her going No. 11 to the Seattle Storm. Newsday also did a one-round mock, which had Dallas taking Kiah Gillespie at No. 9 and Phoenix scooping up Mompremier with the 10th pick.
Elsewhere in women’s basketball
Britni de la Cretaz on Atlanta Dream owner Kelly Loeffler at the Guardian: “As long as Loeffler remains both a politician and the owner of a WNBA team, it will be impossible to separate the two things.”
At the Daily News-Record, Shane Mettlen writes about James Madison head coach Sean O’Regan’s desire to reignite an in-state rivalry with Old Dominion. However, it doesn’t seem like the Monarchs are much interested. O’Regan said: “I have tracked them down in almost every way possible. Their head coach, their assistant coaches. I’ve emailed the AD, I’ve tried everything. For some reason, they will not engage in a series… We’ve extended the hand many times. They know we’re here.” Both schools used to play in the CAA, but Old Dominion left in 2013 for CUSA. Both schools were also powers in the late ‘80s and each posted 24+ win seasons this past year.
Back home on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Easton High School’s girls team got a mention on SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt. The Warriors’ seniors went 82-14 over the last four years and were 25-1 this season. Historically, Easton is the only high school basketball program from the Eastern Shore — girls or boys — to ever win back-to-back state titles, doing so in 1993 and 1994.
At the Capital Gazette, Katherine Fominykh wrote about Old Mill High School freshman Amani Watts, who is called “Baby Shaq” by her teammates. She was named as the newspaper’s Player of the Year, and something tells me this isn’t the last we’ll hear from her.
SLAM Magazine made a Hailey Van Lith highlight reel. Watching her at Louisville is going to be a lot of fun.
Finally, the world needs more defensive coaching tutorials from Pitt assistant Terri Mitchell:
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