Former Western Illinois forward Evan Zars is now at GCU and brings a veteran presence to the Lopes. Courtesy Western Illinois Athletics.

Top Women’s Hoops Newcomers to Keep an Eye on in 2022-23

Newcomers are always fun to take a look at. What will they bring to their new team? How will they handle the uptick in competition? Will they make a drastic difference in helping their team win a championship? All questions you have to ask when looking at newcomers.

The 2022-23 college basketball season is upon us. And with that, WAC Hoops Digest continues to bring you preview articles and names to remember.

In this article, it’s time to take a look at six Newcomers to Watch on the women’s side in 2022-23. Certainly the race for Newcomer of the Year will be intense. And names on this newcomers list are most likely to be candidates at the end of the season. Feel free to share your thoughts on our social media feeds or on the forum.

1. Kurstyn Harden  – Stephen F. Austin

At Northern Colorado, a year ago Harden averaged 12.2 PPG & 7.7 RPG for a Bears team that went 15-16 overall but just 9-11 in the Big Sky Conference. Expect Harden to do her damage in the paint. Especially considering she did not record a 3-pointer a year ago for UNC.

Kurstyn Harden brings a paint presence to the defending champs in 2022-23. Courtesy Northern Colorado Athletics.

2. Chloe Webb – California Baptist University

At UCI a season ago for the Anteaters (21-12,14-4 regular season runner up), Webb averaged 10.2 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.8 APG, and 1.7 SPG while shooting 38.5% from 3 (10/26) along with 46 assists and 46 steals. The Anteaters reached a Big West Tournament final, falling to Hawaii. However, UCI reached the WNIT so Webb will provide a veteran presence. This is essential for CBU who lost the majority of its squad after the 2021-22 season.

3. Olivia Lane – Grand Canyon University

At North Dakota (15-15 overall, 9-9 Summit) a year ago the junior averaged 11.8 PPG & 9.0 RPG. She had nine double-doubles including a stretch of five straight over a 2-week period in February. Lane was the Summit League rebounding champion in 2021-22.

“Olivia is an exciting addition to our team who will no doubt make a big and immediate splash in the conference,” GCU head coach Molly Miller said. “Her mobility and length will make her a tough matchup for opposing teams. She fits into our transition game and her ability to move and think on the court lends itself to our defensive system.”

4. Evan Zars – Grand Canyon University

At Western Illinois (14-15 overall, 5-13 Summit) a year ago, the senior averaged 10.8 PPG, 8.8 RPG, and 1.2 BPG. She’s made every start over the last three years while a Leatherneck and 102 over four years. Zars was also the Summit League rebounding runner-up. Zars did connect on 10 3-pointers a season ago. In addition to the shooting, Zars will be a presence in the paint with her 6-2 frame.

“Fans will appreciate her work ethic and the poise and toughness in which she plays the game,” GCU head coach Molly Miller said. “I know she will be an impact player for us and I am so excited that she is going to venture to Phoenix and show the WAC what she can do.”

5. Chyna Allen – Sam Houston

At Nicholls State (4-22 overall, 2-12 Southland), the senior averaged 14.0 PPG (fourth in Southland scoring) & 3.7 RPG, scoring in double figures 20 times with a season high of 30 against UIW in the conference tournament. Allen will no doubt be expected to take on a chunk of the scoring load vacated with the graduations of Courtney Cleveland, Faith Cook, and Demaya Telemaque. With a bit of improvement from the 3-point line (29.1%) she could be in the running for the WAC scoring title.

Chyna Allen will be expected to have an immediate impact for Ravon Justice and the Bearkats. Courtesy Nicholls State Athletics.

6. Jireh Washington – University of Texas-Arlington

At Arkansas State (12-16 overall, 5-9 Sunbelt), the sophomore averaged 14.3 PPG (finishing with three straight 20-plus point games including a season high 30 against Coastal Carolina) & 3.5 RPG with 76 assists. She was second on the team in 3-point percentage at 37.7% (28/69) & 2nd in assists. Washington provides another veteran presence to a UTA team expected to contend for the WAC regular season title once conference play begins.

About the author

Derryl Trujillo

Derryl Trujillo is a Southern California based sportswriter who won the 2019 Inland Empire Baseball Coaches Association's Supporter of the Year award. He joined the WAC Hoops Digest staff in 2020 and also covers local sports for Inland Sports and the Valley News. Before transitioning to media Derryl was a high school, collegiate and club volleyball official along with serving as a high school basketball scorekeeper for ten years.

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