June 6, 2020 

MVC Player Tracker: Dozens of new faces foster move forward after unfinished season

From maintaining dominance to navigating unfamiliar starting fives, track all the player movement (or lack thereof) in the Missouri Valley Conference.

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Entering the 2020 Missouri Valley Conference tournament, the two frontrunners — first-place Missouri State and second-place Drake — appeared set to clash in the championship game for the second straight season. But the tournament was canceled due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus on the day it was due to begin.

This was frustrating for the obvious reasons, but especially for those teams that felt they had a shot at a late-tournament upset. Bradley had just wrapped up its best season in school history, and alongside Southern Illinois, Illinois State and Northern Iowa, had combined to hand the top two teams (including top-25 Missouri State) four MVC losses.

But the “what-ifs” of 2019-20 will be erased with the new season, which promises a new look nearly conference-wide. Whereas Drake lost two of its most impactful players of all time, Missouri State graduated just one starter for the second year in a row. Some teams are replacing half their rosters, while others boast a strong core of experienced returners.

Player-wise, here’s what to expect in the Valley in 2020-21.

(Updated as of October 18, 2020)


Bradley

An All-MVC standout on offense and defense, Lasha Petree led Bradley in scoring, steals and blocks in 2019-20. (Bradley Athletics)

Departures

Chelsea Brackmann (All-MVC First Team and All-Defensive Team), Amber Bozeman and Ryan Wilkins all graduated.

Returners

Four starters headline the Braves’ 2020-21 returners: Gabi Haack (All-MVC First Team), Tatum Koenig, Lasha Petree (All-MVC First Team, All-Defensive Team) and Nyjah White.

Arrivals

Four freshmen, a grad transfer and a potentially-eligible transfer will start at Bradley in the fall:

  • Tete Danso: 5’11 forward, three-time all-state selection in Minnesota

  • Isis Fitch: 6’1 forward, Illinois all-state honorable mention

  • Sami Martin: 6’1 forward, Wisconsin all-state pick, led high school team to first state tournament appearance since 1984

  • Daija Tyson: 5’5 guard, won three of three high school state championships in Michigan (Update 7/13/20: Tyson does not appear on Bradley’s 2020-21 roster. The athletic department said it was unable to comment at this time.)

  • Uchechi Ufochukwu: 6’4 forward, announced grad transfer from Winthrop in May. As a sophomore in 2017-18 (last full season), shot 48%; head coach Andrea Gorski excited about her “leadership and competitiveness”

Eligible with waiver:

  • Chloe Rice: 5’10 guard, announced transfer from Saint Louis in April. Averaged just under 2 points per game over two seasons (2.7 ppg, 1 rpg in 12.2 mpg as a freshman)


Drake

Of four Bulldogs who started all 30 games last season, Maddie Monahan is the only one returning in 2020-21. (Dylan Heuer / Drake Athletics)

Departures

Three seniors graduated: three-time MVC Player of the Year Becca Hittner, Sara Rhine (All-MVC First Team) and Brenni Rose. Hittner and Rhine were both career 2,000-point scorers.

Returners

Drake welcomes back 10 players, headlined by starters Kierra Collier and Maddie Monahan.

Arrivals

Two freshmen and a transfer make up the Bulldogs’ 2020-21 recruiting class:

  • Courtney Becker: 6’0 forward, “has a ridiculously high motor, is athletic and versatile and holds an unmatched passion for the game” (head coach Jennie Baranczyk)

  • Amber Storr: 5’9 guard, “has the ability to add another level of rebounding toughness” (Baranczyk)

  • Grace Berg: 6’0 forward, transferred from Missouri in January 2019 and redshirted in 2019-20. Mizzou averages (19 games): 3.8 points, 1.7 rebounds, 52% shooting


Evansville

Departures

Kaylan Coffman graduated, and Makayla Wallace transferred to North Dakota.

Swedish pair Felicia Boström and Alva Söderberg each appeared in a handful of games in November, with Boström starting five times, but are no longer listed on the roster.

Returners

Full-time starters Abby Feit (MVC Freshman of the Year), Anna Newman and Jada Poland are back.

Three more Purple Aces returners — Lola Bracy, A’Niah Griffin and Jossie Hudson — started 12 or more games. The team returns 91.7% of its scoring in 2020-21.

Arrivals

Evansville welcomes two freshmen and a junior college transfer to its 2020 class:

  • Erin Dumas: 5’5 guard, played for Montverde Academy (No. 7 in Florida)

  • Rylie Stephens: 5’11 forward, impactful in all facets of offense and defense

  • Sydney Thurwalker: 5’10 guard/forward, announced transfer from Dodge City CC in May. Freshman season averages: 13.6 points, 9.3 rebounds


Illinois State

Juliunn Redmond was named MVC Newcomer of the Year and Sixth Player of the Year, as well as All-MVC Honorable Mention. (Illinois State Athletics)

Departures

Frannie Corrigan, TeTe Maggett, Megan Talbot and Lexi Wallen graduated.

After one season, McKenna Sims transferred to Morningside College (NAIA).

Returners

Among the Redbirds’ returning players are regular starters Mary Crompton and Paige Saylor (MVC All-Defensive Team), as well as MVC Newcomer of the Year and Sixth Player of the Year Juliunn Redmond, who started 12 games.

Illinois State looks to welcome back Ally Gietzel, who redshirted in 2019-20 due to injury.

Maya Wong, who committed in June 2019 after graduating high school early, redshirted her first season and will play in 2020-21.

Arrivals

Four freshmen and an eligible transfer join the Redbirds in 2020-21:

  • Fantasia Baines: 6’1 forward, “has the ability to impact the game on both sides of the floor at multiple positions” (head coach Kristen Gillespie)

  • Kate Bullman: 6’2 forward, “an intense competitor who can score in a variety of ways and impact the game with her ability to block shots well” (Gillespie)

  • Jasmine McGinnis-Taylor: 6’3 forward, “a back-to-the-basket post that has the skill set to step out on the perimeter and knock down shots” (Gillespie)

  • DeAnna Wilson: 6’2 forward, “her ability to score in a variety of ways will add another dimension to our front court” (Gillespie)

  • Terrion Moore: 5’8 guard, transferred from Little Rock in May 2019, redshirted in 2019-20. Little Rock averages (two seasons): 5.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 28.3 minutes


Indiana State

One of two Sycamores to start 28 games, Del’Janae Williams was named to the MVC All-Freshman Team. (Mike Zingg)

Departures

Indiana State had no seniors in 2019-20, but Pearl Dean transferred to NC Central.

Lauryn Snipes, who redshirted during the 2019-20 season after transferring to Indiana State, is no longer with the team.

Returners

The Sycamores return four players who started 25 or more games: leading scorer Jamyra McChristine, Del’Janae Williams (All-Freshman Team), Marie Hunter and Sommer Pitzer.

Mya Glanton redshirted her freshman season and will take the court for the first time in 2020-21.

Arrivals

One freshman and two junior college transfers join for the 2020-21 season:

  • Kallyn Stumbo: 5’8 guard, “[s]he will help our depth in the guard position … can shoot, pass, rebound and is a tenacious defender” (head coach Vicki Hall)

  • Natalia Lalic: 5’11 guard, transferred from Mineral Area College. Sophomore season highlights: 11.2 points per game, 75 made threes

  • Essy Latu: 5’10 guard, transferred from Central Wyoming College. School records in career points (914), single-season scoring (484) and career made 3-pointers (139)


Loyola (Chicago)

Janae Gonzales led the Ramblers in made 3-pointers in 2019-20. (Steve Woltmann / Loyola Athletics)

Departures

The Ramblers graduated one senior, Tiara Wallace.

All-MVC Honorable Mention pick Abby O’Connor transferred to Gonzaga.

Jazmine Covington transferred to Texas A&M International (Div. II) and had left the team prior to the season, while Maya Dunson left mid-season.

Returners

Three starters are back — Allison Day, Janae Gonzales and Ellie Rice — as well as All-MVC Freshman Team selections Sam Galanopoulos and Jala Johnson.

After retiring from basketball in 2019 following her sophomore season, Kailyn Strawbridge will be back as a student coach for the second season.

Arrivals

Loyola signed three freshmen and a potentially-eligible transfer for 2020-21:

  • Maya Chandler: 5’7 guard, “as tough as they come … knows how to win, and will do anything to help her team do so” (head coach Kate Achter)

  • Kaylen Evans: 5’8 guard, “one of the more dynamic guards we’ve ever signed … absolutely loves keeping her teammates involved” (Achter)

  • Sitori Tanin: 6’2 forward, “long and lean and one of the most athletic forwards we’ve ever recruited” (Achter)

Eligible with waiver:

  • Bre Hampton-Bey: 5’6 guard, transferred from UMass in May. Career stats: 8.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists (started 64 of 90 games)


Missouri State

Brice Calip is the Lady Bears’ top returning scorer and led the team in made free throws and assists in 2019-20. (Missouri State Athletics)

Departures

Three players graduated: Alexa Willard (All-MVC First Team), Shameka Ealy and Sydney Schultz.

Returners

Brice Calip (All-MVC First Team, Defensive Player of the Year) and Jasmine Franklin (All-MVC First Team) lead the Lady Bears’ returners. Mya Bhinhar, Emily Gartner, Abby Hipp and Sydney Wilson all started 12 or more games in 2019-20.

Arrivals

Maggie Dixon Rookie Coach of the Year and MVC Coach of the Year Amaka Agugua-Hamilton’s first recruiting class consists of two freshmen and a transfer:

  • Paige Rocca: 5’9 guard, “[h]er savvy game will help us be successful and contribute to our high-powered offense” (Agugua-Hamilton)

  • Dani Winslow: 6’1 forward, “her basketball ceiling is extremely high … athletic and fast and fits right into our up-tempo style of play” (Agugua-Hamilton)

  • Abi Jackson: 6’3 forward, transferred from Auburn in December. Appeared in 59 games, where she averaged 2.4 points and 1.8 rebounds and collected 40 blocks (Update 10/17/20: Jackson is eligible to play in 2020-21 after receiving a waiver from the NCAA)


Northern Iowa

As a junior in 2019-20, Karli Rucker led the Panthers in points, assists and minutes. (UNI Athletics)

Departures

Kristina Cavey, Abby Gerrits, Heidi Hillyard and Rose Simon-Ressler graduated.

Kaitlin Winston did not play in 2019-20 and is no longer with the team.

Returners

Four starters, led by All-MVC First Team pick Karli Rucker, are back with the Panthers. Bre Gunnels, Nicole Kroeger and Megan Maahs are the others.

Arrivals

UNI has signed six freshmen, all from Iowa, to its incoming class:

  • Grace Boffeli: 6’1 forward, three-time Iowa high school state champion, two-time first team all-state pick

  • Emerson Green: 5’10 guard, versatile player who can also use all of her height down low

  • Maya Gyamfi: 6’1 forward, led high school team to first Iowa state tournament appearance in 25 years, all-district pick as a senior

  • Kayba Laube: 5’9 guard, four-time Iowa all-state selection

  • Maya McDermott: 5’6 guard, led high school team to first-ever Iowa state championship as a senior

  • Taryn Scheuermann: 6’3 center, broke Iowa state blocks record held by New York Liberty’s Kiah Stokes


Southern Illinois

The Salukis return top scorer Makenzie Silvey, who also led the team in 3-pointers. (Southern Illinois Athletics)

Departures

Five seniors graduated: starters Nicole Martin, Kristen Nelson and Brittney Patrick; as well as Caitlyn Claussen and Lauren Hartman.

Returners

The Salukis return senior starters Makenzie Silvey (All-MVC Honorable Mention) and Abby Brockmeyer, as well as seven more letterwinners.

Arrivals

Four freshmen and a junior college transfer have signed with SIU:

  • AJ Katcher: 5’11 guard, “fierce competitor and gritty player … a high-energy player and can run for days” (head coach Cindy Stein)

  • Quierra Love: 5’4 guard, “a quick, tenacious defender with the ability to score on the attack, on the pull-up or knock down the three-pointer” (Stein)

  • Sydney Prochaska: 5’11 guard, “a tremendous competitor with a pretty shot … [h]er guard skills are solid in every area” (Stein)

  • Jeniah Thompson: 5’10 forward, “can play anywhere on the floor and has the ability to score in various ways” (Stein)

  • Janell Douvier: 6’1 forward, transferred from Pratt CC in April. Pratt averages: 8.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.1 steals (54 of 59 games started)


Valparaiso

In her first season after transferring from Denver, Carie Weinman led the conference in steals and was named to the MVC All-Defensive Team. (Valpo Athletics)

Departures

Grace Hales (All-MVC Honorable Mention), Alexis Cowan and Maya Meredith graduated.

Addison Stoller, who along with Hales started all 29 games, also graduated and will forgo her final year of eligibility.

Nicole Konieczny, who missed the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons due to injury, transferred to Stephen F. Austin.

Returners

Three players who started all 29 games return to the Crusaders: Carie Weinman (All-Defensive Team), Shay Frederick and Caitlin Morrison.

Marlee Profitt participated in Senior Day and graduated, but will return to the team after redshirting in 2016-17 and 2018-19 due to injury.

Arrivals

Valpo signed five freshmen to its 2020-21 class:

  • Syria Butler: 5’6 guard, signed with the team in June

  • Leah Earnest: 5’10 guard/forward, “her aggressiveness and how she attacks the basket really stood out to us … brings a ton of tenacity” (head coach Mary Evans)

  • Lauren Gunn: 5’9 guard/forward, “an extremely athletic player, and will bring a competitive mindset with her” (Evans)

  • Ava Interrante: 5’9 guard, “a knock-down shooter who will help stretch the floor within our offense” (Evans)

  • Jayda Johnston: 6’0 forward, “[s]he will bring a toughness to our program — she loves to rebound and is continuing to extend her offensive game” (Evans)

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