In the words of coach Mountain MacGillivray, it won’t be a good year if La Salle’s freshmen don’t make an impact. He’s bringing in four freshmen, and the Explorers also added Ali Sanders to the coaching staff after she spent a season at Penn. State.
Shalina Miller and her program-record 193 blocks are gone. Sofilia Ngwafang, a 6-foot-4 center, and graduate transfer Carley Lytton also departed.
Miller is the biggest loss of the three, but the Explorers added two freshmen bigs to help in that area.
Morgan Adams and Michelle Kozicki will be expected to play next season. Adams is a 6-foot-1, three-sport athlete who can shoot the ball from the perimeter. Kozicki hails from Delaware and brings offense, too. She led the state in scoring, averaging 26.3 points as a senior in high school. MacGillivray said they’ll both need to rebound, and it’s something each player does well.
Kayla Richardson is the Swiss Army knife of the class. The 5-foot-11 forward will guard multiple positions and can play any position on offense.
Jaye Haynes is the freshman to watch. She brings the “best pedigree” and may be the “most ready to play,” MacGillivray said. Haynes is the daughter of former Villanova player Jonathan Haynes. She’s the Explorers’ highest-rated 2020 recruit. The 5-foot-8 brings toughness on both ends of the floor.
Former Drexel assistant and new head coach Amy Mallon will move to the end of the bench this season, and she has a lot of options on the roster.
The Dragons are losing one of the school’s best senior classes, and that can’t be understated. Bailey Greenberg and Aubree Brown tied the program record with 96 wins in their career. They would have likely broken it if the season wasn’t canceled.
Greenberg was the go-to option offensively and led the team with 17.3 points per game. Brown and Niki Metzel started a combined 52 of 60 games last season and were two of the leaders.
Two former Dragons left the program. Forward AJ Davis and guard Maria Ferariu played a combined 14 games last season. The freshman class will add more depth to an experienced squad.
The Dragons signed two guards and two forwards and added a transfer. Tori Hyduke transferred from George Washington and brings much-needed experience to the backcourt. She started 28 games for the Colonials, averaging nine points, two assists and shooting 40% from three. Due to transfer rules, her playing status is unknown, but Drexel is pursuing a waiver.
Guard Erin Swinney arrives from Archbishop Carroll in Havertown, where she was the 2020 Delco Player of the Year and won a Philadelphia Catholic League Championship in 2019. Mallon said Swinney has an “old school” playing style, mixing in shot fakes and up-and-under moves in her offensive package.
Drexel went to Australia and signed six-foot forward Chloe Hodges. She’ll step on campus and be one of the tallest players. Mallon called Hodges “a steal” because she can be a dynamic and versatile option in the frontcourt, but was also being pursued by bigger programs.
The Dragons love shooting, so guard Elizabeth Dufrane should fit right in. Dufrane, who attended McLean High School, is Virginia’s all-time leading scorer. Along with her shooting, Dufrane can handle the ball, so she’ll play on and off the ball for Mallon.
Jasmine Valentine is the class’ “workhorse.” Mallon described the 5-foot-11 forward as someone who will do everything she’s asked and challenge the team with her work ethic.
The Hawks’ roster lost two transfers — Claire Media and Lauren Ross — during the season and a couple more players when the season ended, but Cindy Griffin’s recruiting class is a combination of experience and talent.
Devyne Newman was one of the Hawks’ best defenders a season ago, but she transferred. Griffin described graduate student Rachel Gartner as “the rock” because of how she overcame injuries and was the older player. She won the team’s Chris DiJulia Inspirational Award. Nailah Delinois also graduated after starting the final 19 games at guard last season.
So the Hawks lost experience, but more older players are on the way. The Hawks added three graduate transfers who will play immediately.
Part of the Hawks’ scoring problems last season was the lack of shooting, but grad-transfer Alayna Gribble should ease those concerns. She arrives from the University of Pittsburgh, where she filled it up from deep. Gribble moved into the program’s top 10 for career threes after just her sophomore season, but medical reasons have limited her playing time the last two years.
Alexis Santarelli is one of the two grad-transfer forwards. Santarelli averaged 9.6 points for Lafayette College last season. Olivia Ramil last played at Binghamton University and averaged 8.8 points and 5.9 rebounds. Griffin said the Hawks will rely on those two to “give a punch” in the frontcourt.
Freshman guards Olivia Mullins and Emma Boslet round out the class. Boslet had a prestigious career at Saint Thomas Aquinas in New Jersey, scoring 1,948 points in her career and becoming a 2020 McDonald’s All-American Game nominee. Griffin wants her to help stabilize the point guard position.
Mullins comes from Rutgers Prep, which was one of the top high school programs in the country during her time and had a 102-18 record. Her experience as a three-year starter on those teams bodes well for her college transition. Boslet and Mullins both played on the ball a lot, but Mullins’ ability to score allows her to play more off the ball, if needed.
A lot of changes happened at Villanova. For the first time since 1977, Harry Perretta won’t be the Wildcats’ head coach. Former Villanova assistant coach and player Denise Dillon is back, and so is unanimous Big East Rookie of the Year Maddy Siegrist.
The Wildcats’ second- and third-leading scorers are gone. Mary Gedaka (17.2 ppg) and Bridget Herlihy (9.0 ppg) both graduated last season. Their losses mean Siegrist will see every team’s best defender nightly until another proven scorer emerges.
Dillon’s first recruiting class is adding a lot of size to the Wildcats’ frontcourt. Kylie Swider (6-foot-4) and Lior Garzan (6-foot-1) could factor into that rotation. Garzan’s experience playing against pros in Israel is a bonus, and so is Swider’s athleticism as a two-sport star in high school. Her brother, Cole Swider, plays for the Villanova men’s basketball team.
Taliyah Medina and Bella Runyan are adding depth to the backcourt. Medina played for her father at Bethlehem Catholic and won two state championships. Being a coach’s daughter at Villanova worked out well for Gedaka, and Dillon said it helps Medina understand the game. Runyan is another multi-sport high school star, who comes from a family that includes former Eagles offensive lineman Jon Runyan.
Sophomore Noga Peleg Pelc transferred from Rutgers. She started 12 games as a freshman and averaged 5.2 points. She is unlikely to be eligible this season, but Villanova is evaluating its options.
Three Temple players combined for 47.1 of the team’s 68.5 points per game last season. All three were expected back, but one is gone.
Marissa Mackins is the Owls’ biggest loss. She was third on the team in scoring (12.3 points) and made a team-high 76 threes. The Owls also lost Destiny Samuel, who transferred to Binghamton University. Shannen Atkinson, Ciara Forde, Shantay Taylor and Lena Niang exhausted their eligibility.
Head coach Tonya Cardoza added graduate transfer Jada Graves from Elon. Graves was the 2017-18 Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Year and logged playing time in all 30 games last season. Her defensive presence should be felt from Day 1.
Cardoza believes Keishmy Ayuso and Jasha Clinton can help Temple get back to the style of guard play they’re used to. Both excel on and off the ball and should help take the pressure off Ashley Jones.
The Owls frontcourt was hit hard with losses, but York, Pa. native Aniya Matthews will help minimize the impact. Matthew is a 6-foot-3 big with good mobility, which is a must in Temple’s defensive schemes. Cardoza said she’ll be more athletic when she gets stronger.
Due to the unknowns about Penn and the Ivy League’s basketball season in 2020-21, Penn did not make head coach Mike McLaughlin available to discuss next season’s roster.
According to Penn’s 2020-21 roster on its website, the school only lost its seniors, Emily Anderson and Phoebe Sterba, and freshman Kenzie Wood, who didn’t see any game action.