When LSU’s Angel Reese and Iowa’s Caitlin Clark competed for the NCAA women’s basketball championship in Dallas in April, the two cemented themselves as stars. And with the All-American preseason list announcement, Stanford’s Cameron Brink, Virginia Tech’s Elizabeth Kitley, UConn’s Paige Bueckers and Indiana’s Mackenzie Holmes joined the ranks of players sure to dominate headlines this season.
But the depth of talent doesn’t end there. Not everyone will be tabbed for major awards, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth watching. Here are 14 players you don’t want to forget about this season.
Gianna Kneepkens, Utah
As a fringe candidate for All-American awards, Alissa Pili will be the most talked-about player for Utah. But right behind her in terms of importance is junior Gianna Kneepkens, an established scorer who can slash or pull up from long range. It was the Minnesota native who propelled the Utes to a near victory over eventual NCAA champion LSU with 20 points, eight rebounds and three steals in the Sweet 16. Kneepkens is a fearless scorer who knows how to put the ball in the basket. She averaged 15.3 points per game last season, and if that’s not enough proof, get this: In high school, Kneepkens graduated with 3,704 career points.
Lauren Betts, UCLA
There was a lot to like on last season’s UCLA squad, with guards Charisma Osborne and Kiki Rice, but the Bruins needed an inside presence. They got one of the best in Lauren Betts, a transfer from Stanford. Betts was the top-ranked player in last season’s freshman class, but the Cardinal never used her to her full ability. She still managed to average 5.9 points, 3.5 rebounds and just under a block in her 9.7 minutes per contest. Those numbers are sure to skyrocket this season, especially after the 6-foot-7 Betts dominated in the FIBA World Cup, averaging 11.4 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. Not only is Betts a star in the making as an individual, she also elevates UCLA to a true contender for a national title.
Cotie McMahon, Ohio State
If you need a crash course on Cotie McMahon, direct your attention to last season’s Sweet 16 matchup between Ohio State and UConn. That tells you everything you need to know about the sophomore. She went up against a historic powerhouse, and confidently finished with 23 points and five rebounds to knock off the Huskies and earn her team its first Elite Eight since 1993. That was the kind of play the Buckeyes grew accustomed to from McMahon, who was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Now, with the addition of Celeste Taylor from the transfer portal, and Jacy Sheldon’s decision to return for a fifth season, Ohio State will have high expectations this season. McMahon is ready to meet them.
Yarden Garzon, Indiana
Yarden Garzon came in as a freshman and had no trouble assimilating for Indiana. There were questions about how the Hoosiers would play without Ali Patberg and Nicole Cardano-Hillary, but those subsided quickly, largely thanks to Garzon. She started all 32 games for the Hoosiers, averaging 11.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Garzon quickly established herself as one of the best shooters in the conference, knocking down 45.8% of her attempts, and setting an Indiana record for most 3s made by a freshman with 70. Now, with Grace Berger off to the WNBA, the Hoosiers will need even more out of Garzon this season.
Sonia Citron, Notre Dame
Even though Sonia Citron recorded an impressive list of accolades last season — All-ACC First Team, AP All-America honorable mention and Notre Dame Defensive Player of the Year — while also leading Notre Dame in scoring, the guard is still often thought of as a secondary piece to Olivia Miles. That narrative may have shifted at the end of the 2022-23 season, as Miles was injured and Citron led the Irish to the Sweet 16. The junior averaged 14.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Miles and Citron are often thought of as a dynamic duo, but Citron can complement anyone on the court because of her ability to find space and move without the ball. She has a complete game; that includes the defensive end, where her 6-1 frame proves to be trouble for opponents.
Georgia Amoore, Virginia Tech
It feels a little silly including Georgia Amoore on this list, especially after she rose to stardom during Virginia Tech’s Final Four run last season. But playing alongside Elizabeth Kitley means Amoore doesn’t get the same level of national attention. That works just fine for the guard, and anyone who’s watched the Hokies knows a lot of Kitley’s success depends on her Aussie point guard. Amoore averaged 16.3 points and 4.9 assists per game last season, showing off her ability to create for others, and herself. Amoore also set a Virginia Tech record with 118 made 3-pointers, a mark that was second nationally, behind POY Caitlin Clark.
Ayoka Lee, Kansas State
Kansas State’s 6-6 star missed last season with a knee injury, but prior to the 2022-23 season, Ayoka Lee was dominant. As a junior, the center broke an NCAA record by scoring 61 points in a 94-65 win over Oklahoma. As the basketball landscape shifts, becoming more position-less, Lee stays the same, as a dominant true post player. In her three seasons at Kansas State, Lee has never attempted a 3-pointer, and does her damage within the paint. As a junior, she averaged a double-double, with 22 points and 10.3 rebounds plus 2.9 blocks per game. Now, healthy in her senior season, Lee is looking to end things at Kansas State on a high note.
Taiyanna Jackson, Kansas
The Jayhawks have been on the fringes of the Top 25 and the NCAA tournament for the last two seasons. In 2022, they made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament, and last season, after narrowly missing the field, the Jayhawks won the NIT. If Kansas is going to become a consistent threat this season, it will fall to 6-6 fifth-year senior Taiyanna Jackson, who has been a bright spot during the up-and-down seasons. An efficient scorer, Jackson made 66.1% of her attempts last season, anchoring her team with 15.2 points and 12.7 rebounds per game. The Kansas offense will run around Jackson, and Big 12 defenses will have their hands full trying to contain her.
Aneesah Morrow, LSU
LSU is coming off an NCAA title, so it’s hard to imagine this season’s team being even more talented, yet here we are. Angel Reese is a POY contender, so she will get the majority of the attention — deservedly so. Then there’s Louisville transfer Hailey Van Lith sliding into the point guard spot. But Aneesah Morrow was arguably the most sought-after transfer during the offseason, narrowing her decision down to South Carolina, USC and LSU before ending up in Baton Rouge. It’s easy to see why so many top programs wanted Morrow, after she was dominant at DePaul for two seasons, recording numbers that would have put her in POY contention had it not been for her team’s 16-17 record. She averaged 25.7 points and 12.2 rebounds per contest.
Rickea Jackson, Tennessee
Tennessee’s Rickea Jackson is the NCAA’s forgotten superstar. She came into college as the fifth-ranked player in the class of 2019, but since then, the Detroit native went through the ringer as a college athlete. During her first three years at Mississippi State, Jackson had three different coaches. The only consistent thing about her college career has been Jackson’s talent, which is undeniable. Last year she found a home at Tennessee, and despite being projected to go in the top five of the WNBA Draft, Jackson returned for a fifth year. She found her stride for the Vols midway through the 2022-23 season, averaging 19.2 points on 54.8% shooting. As Jackson becomes even more comfortable this season, she’s likely to get more dangerous on the court.
Aaliyah Edwards, UConn
Connecticut had some of the worst luck imaginable last season, starting with an injury that ended Paige Bueckers’ season before it began. At one point, the Huskies didn’t have enough players to suit up for a game, and throughout the season, almost everyone missed time. Aaliyah Edwards did not. She managed to stay healthy, while also keeping UConn on track with consistent performances. Edwards did a little bit of everything for her team, averaging 16.6 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks per contest. Now, the Huskies are healthy, and the pressure is off Edwards. With more weapons around her and less defensive attention, that can only mean good things for the senior this season.
Lauren Jensen, Creighton
Caitlin Clark was the darling of last season’s NCAA tournament, but the season prior, Lauren Jensen held that honor after her winning shot sent Iowa home in the second round. Jensen led her team to the Elite Eight that season before being sent home by Aliyah Boston and South Carolina. Last season was a stellar one for Jensen, who averaged a team-high 16.1 points, but Creighton lost in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. Now as a senior, Jensen has the chance to create some more magic for the Blue Jays, who enter the season ranked 22nd in the AP poll.
Abbey Hsu, Columbia
It’s easy to overlook mid-majors, but Abbey Hsu of Columbia is a player you won’t want to miss. Prior to her enrollment at Columbia, the Lions had just one winning season in 33 years. Since her arrival on campus, things have changed, and Columbia nearly made last season’s NCAA tournament, before an NIT run to the title game. Known for her 3-point shooting, Hsu averaged 17.8 points for Columbia last season, including a career-high 35 points on 13-of-18 shooting against Harvard on Feb. 17.
Kacie Borowicz, North Dakota
Last season’s Summit League-leading scorer is back for a fifth season, with more accolades already piling up. Borowicz was named preseason player of the year after setting a North Dakota scoring record last season. Borowicz averaged 21.1 points per game, which was 12th nationally, while also dishing out 4.8 assists per contest. Despite being just 5-9, the guard can score at all three levels, and knows how to draw fouls, making 85.6% of her free-throw attempts.