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Way-Too-Early NJCAA D1 Women's Basketball Top 25 Rankings

Way-too-Early NJCAA D1 Women's Basketball Top 25 Rankings

By World Exposure News Services, 11/19/20, 1:15PM CST


25. Salt Lake
Coach: Marcilina Grayer
2019-20 record:  
Games to Watch: College of Southern Idaho, Feb.9; @Snow, Feb. 20
Player(s) to watch:  Awa Sidibe, Hennessey Luu-Brown, Riley Frith,  and Aminata Diakite

Coach Grayer begins her second season as the head coach.  Grayer is looking to improve upon a 2019 record of 22-7.  This winter she hopes that a combination of experience and enthusiasm will be the right recipe for more wins than last season.  How far can they go will depend if the newcomers can execute the Bruins "Chin" offense.  

The Bruins will be led by Awa Sidibe who is the No. 15 ranked Junior College prospect in the World Exposure Report player rankings. 

24. Iowa Western
Lindsey Vande Hoef
2019-20 record: 19-11
Games to Watch: @Northeast Community College, Feb. 3; @Moberly, Feb. 8
Player(s) to watch: Hayley Berfield, Ruba Abo Hashesh, Isnelle Natabou, Gabby Smith, Geassy Germano, and Arielle McElroy

The Reivers have added three  Division 1 transfers in the offseason (Gabby Smith, Ashley Bowen, Geassy Germano). The most notable freshman player Head Coach Lindsey Vande Hoef signed is Isnelle Natabou. Natabou has a powerful frame. Already has the body to battle with BCS post players but needs to add more ways to score to her repertoire. 

Arielle McElroy is a sophomore guard that would be a fantastic @Amac5_ addition for a HBCU program. She is an athletic combo guard that flourishes in an uptempo system. McElroy has improved her range over the past year and is only going to get better. She will help the Reivers make a strong push for a NJCAA National Tournament bid. 

23. South Plains
Ara Baten (1st year)
2018-19 record: 32-1
Games to Watch: @Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, Jan. 22; @Trinity Valley CC, Jan. 27
Player(s) to watch: Grace Hunter,  Ewa Kielar, Debora Reis, and Jordan Brown.

Ara Baten takes over has the head coach for the Lady Texans after leading Odessa the past 13 seasons. At Odessa, Baten led the Lady Wranglers to 20 or more wins in 11 seasons, including four consecutive trips to the Women's basketball National Tournament.   He has amassed an overall record of 381-194, including a 275-123 clip at Odessa. 

South Plains combo guard  Grace Hunter (World Exposure Report No. 27)  is one of the best in the nation. She will have to shoulder a heavy load for the Texans by scoring and getting others involved in Baten's high-low offense.

22. Eastern Arizona
Cameron Turner
2019-20 record: 22-9
Games to Watch: Central Arizona, Jan. 20; @Arizona Western, Feb. 27; 
Player(s) to watch: Caterina Ferreira, Emily Dogbatse, Ajae Youakum, Kor Fornesa Liu, Isis Smith

There weren't many expectations for Eastern Arizona last year, however, expectations are around this season. 

In an off-season where some teams could struggle to put together new pieces of the team, Eastern Arizona will not have to worry about such things. That should result in a team that is ready to go from day one and that will remain consistent throughout the year.

Youakum and Ferreira will provide a lot of scoring for Eastern Arizona.  Both players are getting highly recruited by Power 5 conferences and then you add freshman Emily Dogbatse to the mix, you have a dangerous young team. Dogbatse brings range, court vision, and defensive toughness with all the makings of contributor for a National Tournament team. 

21. Vincennes
Coach: Harry Meeks
2019-20 record: 27-5
Games to Watch: @Mineral Area, Jan 23; @Wabash Valley, Mar. 3
Player(s) to watch: Shaila Beeler and Amani Brown

Vincenees was a pleasant surprise last season. The Blazers finished 27-5 and almost made the National Tournament. But heading into 2020-21, things are quite different. Coach Meeks lost Fess Hawkins and a lot of scoring . That makes this a very inexperienced team. However, there is a Division 1 transfer that came in and that is a good place for Vincennes to begin.

Beeler (World Exposure Report No. 2), a 2019 Indiana All-Star from Warren Central in Indianapolis transferred from Division 1 Indiana. She did not appear in a game at Indiana.

Beeler is an instinctive scorer who excels in transition and shows the ability to put the ball in the basket from all over the floor. 

20. Seward County
Todd Ciochetto (1st Year)
2019-20 record: 25-7
Games to Watch: Butler, Feb. 13; @Hutchinson, Mar. 20
Player(s) to watch: Sierra Morrow, Kabrea Jamerson, Miyah Dubose, Sierra Lynch

Coach Todd Ciochetto enters his first season as the Lady Saints Head Coach. He has spent the last six seasons as the Head Coach for North Iowa Area Community College and has an overall record of 153-46. This past season Ciochetto led NIACC to a 32-1 record, Region XI Championship, and a number one seed at the NJCAA Division II national tournament. With this success, he was honored as the Division II National Coach of the Year by both the NJCAA and World Exposure Report.

The Saints are well balanced and a team that will put up a lot of points. Seward County will have Sierra Morrow (World Exposure Report No. 21), who was named to the World Exposure Report NJCAA Division II All-American second-team last season. She averaged 15.6 points per game and finished second in the NJCAA Division II with a school record (NIACC) 153 blocked shots. 

Expect the Saints to play an uptempo style: scoring by threes, running in transition, and owning the offensive glass. Defensively, Seward County will force turnovers, shut down the perimeter, and deny shot attempts near the rim.

19. New Mexico
Austin Mefford (1st year)
2019-20 record: 19-9
Games to Watch: South Plains, Feb. 20; Midland, Mar. 4
Player(s) to watch: Mayra Caicedo, Precious Cowan, Marianam Sow, Mariah Smith

Austin Mefford had a two-year stint leading Seward County and went 55-11 in the two seasons. Last season, Mefford led the Lady Saints to a 25-7 overall record and a National Tournament big for the fourth straight year. He had the KJCCC Freshman of the year in back to back seasons with Seward and during his time he helped the Lady Saints extend their home winning streak to 61 that dated back to 2015-16 season. 

The Thunderbirds is loaded in the backcourt. UTEP signees Cabral averaged 9.4 points per game with a 45.8 field goal percentage in her first season at New Mexico Junior College (2019-20), earning her Honorable Mention plaudits to the Western Junior College Athletic Conference's All-Conference team.

Precious Cowan (World Exposure Report No. 13), who is one of the highest rated point guards in the country coming out of High School transferred in from Chipola.

New Mexico freshman point guard Mariah Smith could garner serious consideration for major minutes. Smith has the skills to compete at the Division 1 level after two years in Junior College. 

18. Tyler
Coach: Trenia Tillis-Hoard
2019-20 record: 
Games to Watch: Blinn College, Feb. 10; @Kilgore, Feb. 20; 
Player(s) to watch: Nala Hemingway, Veonce Powell and Taryn Willis

Tyler will be with be without Felmas Kuranga, who was No. 2 in the World Exposure Report Junior College player rankings and WBCA Junior College Player of the Year. Tyler will be miss her leadership and her 26 double-doubles. 

The biggest returning weapon is Nala Hemingway, a prolific perimeter scorer who will take on a larger playmaking role this season. The rest of the backcourt is far more focused on creation and defense. 

17.  Eastern Florida State
MJ Baker
2019-20 record: 23-7
Player(s) to watch: Natalia Beaumont, Stephanie Torres, Anja Knoflach, Tatiana Beaumont, and Leilani Guion

The Titans face a wide range of outcomes this year. If Beaumont (World Exposure Report No. 4) is fully healthy, Anja Knoflach improves her scoring against elite defenders, and the freshman grow up quickly; the Titans will have a special year. 

16. Butler
Mike Helmer
2019-20 record: 25-8
Games to Watch: Hutchinson, Feb. 3; @Independence, Feb. 27
Player(s) to watch: Skyla Knight, Tamara Nard, Miranda Givens, and Carissa Beck 

Coach Helmer  has all the pieces to make it to the National Tournament. 

They have Tamara Nard (World Exposure Report No. 4 ) who is one of the most dominating post in the nation and Skyla Knight (World Exposure Report No. 43), a transfer from Arkansas Little Rock. Nard was a World Exposure Report Honorable Mention All-American last season.  

The speed of Knight with the ball in her hands will spark the transition attack, and the entire squad's ability to take care of the ball will help Butler be competitive against Seward and the rest of the Jayhawk Conference. 

15. Wabash Valley
Luke Scheidecker
2019-20 record: 30-2
Games to Watch: Three Rivers,  Jan. 17; Vincennes, Mar. 3
Player(s) to watch: Jaz Turner, Je'Naiya Davis, and Cierra Christian

Luke Scheidecker returns to guide the Lady Warrior basketball team after spending two seasons as the Assistant Coach at Indiana State. His teams went a combined 61-5, including a GRAC record of 35-1. WVC won back-to-back GRAC titles and District P championships, while making back-to-back appearances at the NJCAA National Tournament during his tenure.

Lady Warrior's have 14 new players on the roster. Je'naiya Davis, a transfer from Alabama A&M can really score in bunches!!! She is ranked in the top 50 by World Exposure Report. Cierra Christian is a 6'0" forward from IMG who is a promising freshman. Then you throw in Lamarria Johnson from Hawaii, KiKi Carney, and Mariah Jones these youngsters can help. Jaz Turner (World Exposure Report No. 5) a Ball State signee, is an explosive leaper with solid size and is regarded as one of the most efficient transition finisher in Junior College women's basketball. 

14. Grayson
Bill Damuth
2019-20 record: 21-9
Player(s) to watch: Jane Asinde, Deborah Nwakamma, and Sali Kurouma

Head Coach Damuth has put Grayson women's basketball back on the map and Jane Asinde (World Exposure Report No. 18), a Wichita State signee, is one of the main reasons why Grayson sit in the middle of the top 25. 

Grayson's top-5 is bulletproof, but the reserve reinforcements remain unproven. If the freshman, are ready to take the training wheels off, they will make the NJCAA National Tournament. 

13. Hutchinson
John Ontjes
2019-20 record: 28-4
Games to Watch: @Butler, Feb. 3; @Independence, Feb. 10
Player(s) to watch: Lani Morris, Lojong Gore, and Nafatoumata Haidara

Head coach John Ontjes, now in his 14th season, guided the 2019-20 Blue Dragons to a conference championship last season and a 29-4 overall record. His team was upsetted in the semifinals of the Region VI Tournament, however the Blue Dragons still earned an at-large bid to the NJCAA Women's Division I National Tournament and was the No. 12 seed.

12. Panola
Alex Furr
2019-20 record: 16-13
Games to Watch: @Kilgore, Feb. 3; Trinity Valley, Feb. 13
Player(s) to watch: Destiny Burton, Tink Davis, Gabby McBride, Ginger Reece, Odeth Betancourt, and Alana Swift

Panola had added several Division 1 transfers and many Junior College coaches think they have the firepower to be crowned NJCAA Champions at the end of the season. Head Coach Alex Furr have plenty of experience to make a deep run this season. It will be interesting to see how this squad finishes the 2020-21 season, since many believe Panola is the new Trinity Valley.  

11. Shelton State
Madonna Thompson
2019-20 record: 29-2
Games to Watch: @Snead State, Feb. 2; Wallace State-Hanceville, Mar. 26
Player(s) to watch:  Thaniya Marks, Kirby DeBoard, and Keara Sexton

Shelton State will need to rely on their sophomores to carry the load until the freshmen catch up to the college speed, physicality and mental preparation that it takes to be successful. If they can develop and grow up quickly, Shelton State will have an opportunity to win the conference championship. 

Thaniya Marks is one of the best rebounders in the nation and she brings toughness and leadership. 

10. South Georgia Tech
James Frey
2019-20 record: 30-2
Games to Watch: Georgia Highlands, Feb. 6
Player(s) to watch:  Femme Sikusani, Hope Butera, Moe Shida, Niya McGuire

Jets leaning on inside play and leadership from Moe to carry them. Vera Charles and Imani McNeal, sophomore guards, will give the Jets experience and toughness on the perimeter. They are five deep in the post and will need to develop from the perimeter for SGTC to be really good. They had 252 made 3's move on to the Division 1 from last years team, so they need their perimeter players to step up. 

9. Northeastern Oklahoma A&M
Jim Rowland
2019-20 record: 15-14
Games to Watch: South Plains, Jan. 22; Connors State, Feb. 15
Player(s) to watch: Makenna Burch and Kristina Ekofo

'Loaded' is the word that comes to mind when scanning the roster. There are two stud freshman that are currently ranked in the top 15 (World Exposure Report). 

Lady Norse will be a well-oiled machine when the season starts in 64 days and will not stall. Look for the them to be back in the National Tournament 

8. Western Nebraska
Coach: Chad Gibney
2019-20 record: 
Games to Watch: Southern Idaho, Jan. 28; Casper, Feb. 3
Player(s) to watch: Alejah Douglas, Bella Sparaco, Lidsey Mahoukou, Ky Buell, Ashley Panem 

Chad Gibney appears to have lifted the WNCC program to a higher tier than it was at under previous coach Dave Tarnish .

Gibney led the Cougars to one of their best seasons in school history, finishing at 28-2 on the season. WNCC ran off 26 straight wins before falling in the Region IX championship game to Casper College 66-64. The Cougars finished the season ranked No. 2 in the NJCAA final polls and earned their fourth straight trip to nationals, earning a No. 7 seed at this year's NJCAA national tournament.

Gibney, who has been head coach of the Cougars for the past 3 ½ years, guided WNCC to two Region IX titles (2017 and 2019).

He garnered the World Exposure NJCAA Division I Coach of the Year

Gibney was also named the Region IX South Coach of the Year for a third time. He was the District coach of the year in 2017 and 2019.

Florida Gulf Coast transfer Ashley Panem and Omaha native Alejah Douglas, who can score in bunches will head an offense that promises to be as potent as ever. Gibney's offense at WNCC ranked 7th nationally, fueled by efficient shooting and good ball security. The Cougars like to play uptempo, run in transition, and attack the rim off the dribble. 

7. Chipola
Greg Franklin
2019-20 record: 21-7
Player(s) to watch:  Isadora Sousa, Infunya Nwachukwu, and De'Myla Brown

This is the second straight season I have ranked the Indians around the top 10 in the preseason. Chipola's talent is immense, and Greg Franklin  is regarded as one of the top Junior College head coaches. 

Expect to see the Indians in the Big dance once again this year and compete for a Panhandle title.

6. Casper
Dwight Gunnare
2019-20 record: 29-3
Games to Watch: Northeastern, Jan. 29; Western Nebraska, Feb. 3
Player(s) to watch: Kobe King-Hawea and Natalia Otkhhmezuri

Casper will be a contender to win it all this season with their elite talent and depth. 

World Exposure Report No. 1 Junior College prospect in Kobe King-Hawea will provide scoring and toughness that will help Casper take the next step. She was named the World Exposure Report Freshman of the Year and has recently signed with to play at Texas next winter. 

5. Trinity Valley
Precious Ivey
2019-20 record: 29-5
Games to Watch: Tyler, Mar. 13; Panola, March 17
Player(s) to watch:  Tai-Yanna Jackson 

Talent on Trinity Valley’s roster is a little down this year compared to previous years. It will be interesting to see how Precious Ivey does at the helm in her first full year. For the Cardinals to have the same level of success they had experienced the past, Tai-Yanna Jackson (World Exposure Report No. 3) who orginally signed with Ole Miss will need to take her game and leadership to another level. 

4. Gulf Coast
Cayla Petree
2019-20 record: 27-5
Games to Watch: Chipola, Feb. 3 ; @NWF, Feb. 23
Player(s) to watch: Nia Daniel, Avalon Miller and Chyna Nixon

Cayla Petree is set to begin her first season at Gulf Coast.

Petree led South Plains to a 32-1 season and their first outright conference title since 2013, last season. In addition, she was named 2020 NJCAA Division 1 Women's Basketball Coach of the Year, WBCA Two-Year College National Coach of the Year, WJCAC Coach of the Year, and a finalist for World Exposure NJCAA World Exposure Report Coach of the Year. She has amassed an overall record of 127-36 during her five year stint in  Levelland, Texas. 

Gulf Coast first year head coach Cayla Petree have three returning players and 8 newcomers and will have to adjust to life without World Exposure Report Sophomore of the Year Ahlana Smith, a stone-cold killer and late game closer.

GCCC has won titles in 2003, 2008, 2010, 2016, 2017 and 2019.

3. Florida Southwestern
Jerald Ellis
2019-20 record: 24-7
Games to Watch: Miami Dade, Feb. 17;  Palm Beach State, Feb. 27
Player(s) to watch:  Sheslanie Laureano, Macarena Retamales, and Patience Williams

After four seasons as an assistant for the Bucs, Ellis takes over as the Head Coach for the 2020-2021 season.    

With Ellis on the sideline, the Bucs have gone 100-28 over the past four seasons, winning three straight Suncoast Conference Championships and earning back to back berths to the NJCAA National Tournament. As the recruiting coordinator for the Bucs, Ellis has brought in 19 All-Conference players in four seasons including 12 first team selections.  Ten players have signed to continue playing at the NCAA Division I level during Ellis’ tenure while 19 players in total have signed scholarships to further their careers after FSW. 

FSW is another deep and talented team in Fort Meyers, and this is one of has a couple of solid veterans who can help foster the youngsters into the college game. If Laureano (World Exposure Report No. 8) plays like the star that many expect him to be, FSW's ceiling is quite high: the Bucs have shooters, defenders, ball-handlers, athletes-every Coach Ellis could want. 

2. Jones College
Missy Bilderback
2019-20 record: 24-4
Games to Watch: Itawamba, Jan. 25; @Pearl River, Feb. 22
Player(s) to watch: Daisha Bradford, Jayla Alexander, and Kamryn Estell, Endia Holliday

Guiding the Bobcats to four straight NJCAA Division I Tournament appearances, Missy Bilderback returns for a sixth season leading the JC women's basketball program.

Bilderback has led Jones to an outstanding 127-20 (.864) overall record in five seasons, an average of 25 wins per year, and 63-7 mark in south division play. 

Bilderback guided Jones to a 24-4 mark, division championship, region championship, No. 10 final ranking and No. 8 national seed in the NJCAA Tournament last season. She received NJCAA Region 23 Coach of the Year honors for a fourth straight year.  

The Bobcats will be led by three superstars in 'Nunu' (World Exposure Report No. 10), Jayla Alexander (World Exposure Report No. 2), and Kamryn Estell. 

Kamyrn Estell is a transfer from  Kansas City Kansas CC and was named Jayhawk Conference Freshman of the Year. She averaged 14.5 points and 7.2 rebounds in 32 starts...finished fifth in the conference in field goal percentage (.560), sixth in rebounding and averaged 1.5 assists and 1.4 steals.

Bradford, a Clemson signee, had a monster freshman year at Tallahassee in 2018-19, Bradford averaged 17.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. She was named a WBCA All-American Honorable Mention, First Team All-Panhandle Conference and helped TCC to a 25-5 record and No. 9 national ranking. 

Jayla Alexander started 19 games at Ole Miss and averaged 9.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game. She scored a career-high 23 points at Missouri.

1. Northwest Florida State
Coach:  Bart Walker
2019-20 record: 
Games to Watch: @Florida SouthWestern, Jan. 30; @Chipola, Feb. 13; @Gulf Coast, Mar. 23 
Player(s) to watch: Chanaya Pinto, Laura Taylor, Ines Piper, Last-Tear Poa, Masengo Mutanda

Bart Walker enters his sixth season, the fourth during his second stint, as head coach for the women's basketball team at Northwest Florida State College.

Over his head coaching career, Walker has accumulated a record of 322-93. He has earned NJCAA regional Coach of the Year honors five times and made five Elite Eight appearances at the NJCAA National Tournament.

Assistant Coach Zack Banks was also named World Exposure Report NJCAA Division 1 Assistant Coach of the Year. 

Northwest Florida has all the pieces to make a run to win the National Championship and it would be tough to find anyone that would argue. Raiders boasts two of  top five freshman in the country (Poa and Piper) and two highly recruiting sophomores in the country (Mango and Pinto). 

Pinto (World Exposure Report No. 5) is  6-1 forward from Mozambique, Pinto that was a World Exposure Report second team All-American and NJCAA All-American in 2019-20. She was named FCSAA/Region VIII All-State and All-Panhandle Conference after averaging 13.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. Her 72 steals were eighth-most in the FCSAA, while her 258 rebounds were seventh-most.

Others looking in:  Otero, Midland, Miami Dade, Collin County

Follow Junior College Women's Basketball here at World Exposure Report. 

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