Women’s Basketball 20-21 Season Outlook
Big things are brewing in Ramsey Gym for the upcoming 2020-21 ICC women’s basketball team as the roster is loaded with a bevy of talent and experience. This Cougar squad has a playful, competitive spirit along with an undeniable chemistry that will help set the table for an exciting campaign when games begin in January.
Two speedy freshmen, Derria Edwards, and Kayla Gordon will run the controls from the point guard position. Both players led their high school teams to regional titles while earning all-state accolades and will keep the Cougars in attack mode from the opening tip. Edwards (Peoria HS) is a 5’2 fireball who attacks the hoop or hits the open jumper, but her biggest impact could be on the defensive end wreaking havoc on opposing point guards. Gordon (O’Fallon HS) is a cool customer with her own quality set of jets and also has a sharp skill set in her repertoire. She flourishes going coast-to-coast or finding an open teammate for a score and can also mix things up defensively.
The freshmen floor generals have some great company in their backcourt mates, starting with sophomore transfer guard Samaiya Buchanan (Hopkins HS, Minneapolis, MN/Gogebic CC), who averaged 12.3 ppg & 8.3 RPG as a frosh at GCC. Buchanan has been a nice addition to the mix as she has a solid motor and attacks the hoop with a vengeance while excelling on the defensive end to help get steals. Freshman Dayja Evans (Pleasure Ridge Park HS, Louisville, KY) is a three-point specialist with a deadly step-back and can also get to the rim when need be. Evans drained over 260 career three-pointers while playing in the largest school division in Louisville and was named to the prestigious Courier Journal All-Area Team. 5’8 freshman guard Courtney Jones (Morton HS) has the most expansive skill set as she played every position in high school for the storied Potters and is their all-time career leader in assists. Also an all-stater, Jones is a high energy player who eats winning for breakfast as she has two state championships under her belt. She can hit the three or scoop up an offensive rebound for a follow and then hustle back and take a charge on the defensive end.
Two returning sophomore guards will provide experience to the guard corps in Sh’coria Metts and Courtney Heffren. Metts (Peoria HS) brings a calm yet competitive nature to the gym and looks to help her teammates in a variety of ways. As a frosh, she excelled in shutting down the opposing team’s best guard and gained valuable playing time in that role. She’s come back to campus with an increased confident swagger and is getting to the hoop and finishing with flair. Heffren (Eureka HS) will attempt to tackle the unprecedented challenge of playing two sports in the same season in 2021. She is a phenomenal athlete who’s gift is volleyball, but she’s also a darn good hooper in her own right where she was a key contributor as a freshman, starting 13 games and leading the Cougars in field goal percentage at 50.7%. It’ll remain to be seen if Heffren has the time and energy to help out on the hardwood but the Cougars are willing to compromise as she’ll be able to give them another bullet in the team’s arsenal.
As strong as the backcourt players are, it’s quite possible that the frontline could overshadow the guards, as the Cougar quintet of forwards & centers will give ICC’s opponents plenty to contend with. 5’10 MWAC Co-Freshman of the Year, Ayanna Gibbs (Normal West HS) is back for her sophomore campaign after averaging 10.2 ppg and a team-leading 6.2 RPG a season ago. She works in the paint like a slinky, maneuvering her way to finish inside and has improved her ballhandling and outside shooting range, making her more of a dual-threat. And as athletic as she is, her best asset may be her competitive edge and making the players around her better. Freshman center Keijah Gray (Belleville West HS) checks in as the tallest Cougar at 6’2 and displays a great willingness to run the floor, allowing her to own the boards on both ends and swat away shots in the paint. She has a solid work ethic paired with a thirst for improvement, already allowing her to made solid strides in a short time in workouts. 6’0 freshman forward Cierra McNamee (Moline HS), also a high school all-stater, averaged a double-double as a senior and adds an energizing flair with her style of play. She runs the floor effortlessly, can finish in the paint or knock down the 15-footer, and collects nearly every rebound in the 309 area code, which will be a key component to the ICC transition game.
Rounding out the group are a pair of six-footers in Kristyn Mitchell (Collinsville HS) and Camryn Stafford (Illini Bluffs HS). Mitchell, an All-Southwest Conference selection, came to campus in phenomenal shape and is honing both her guard and post skills in every workout. She has a fundamental back-to-the-basket game but is also a very consistent shooter from three-point range, which will help in the Cougars’ transition game and their high-low sets. Stafford is back for her second season after starting 31 games and averaging 10.1 ppg a season ago and will provide guidance to the new players, both in practices and games. She can wheel & deal in the paint with up-and-unders as well as drop-steps or slide out to the perimeter and knock down the open jumper to keep defenses honest.
Only time will tell how the team will mesh together and perform, but be sure that the action will be fast and furious in Ramsey Gym in 2021!