December 10, 2020
The Ivy Eight: Scouting the grad transfers
As of December 8, seven seniors and one junior had entered their names in the NCAA transfer portal
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The 2020-21 women’s college basketball season will not include the Ivy League, as the conference announced on November 12 that it would not play winter sports. However, at least three former Ivy Leaguers are expected to take the court as graduate transfers: Maryland’s Katie Benzan (who previously played for Harvard), Minnesota’s Laura Bagwell Katalinich (Cornell), and Georgetown’s Taylor Baur (Princeton).
Next season, several more players could follow in that trio’s footsteps. Unlike other Division I conferences, the Ivy League does not allow student-athletes to redshirt or play as graduate students; they are only eligible in their first four years of undergraduate enrollment. As a result, every senior who graduates this spring will have exhausted their Ivy League eligibility but be eligible to play at least one more season elsewhere because they did not play in 2020-21.
There are 24 seniors on Ivy League rosters this season, and as of December 8, seven of them have announced their intent to transfer for 2021-22 by entering the transfer portal. In addition, Dartmouth junior Asha Taylor will graduate a year early and transfer. Every Ivy League team except for Yale has at least one player intending to transfer, and more players could enter their names in the portal at any time.
Let’s run through the list of Ivy League players in the transfer portal and explore what each of them could bring to a new team. Unless otherwise hyperlinked, all statistics are from Her Hoop Stats.
McKenna Dale, senior guard, Brown
2019-20 stats: 13.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.9 assists in 25.9 minutes per game
Dale, a former Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year, ranked in the top eleven in the Ivy League last season in points per game, 3-point shooting percentage (34%), and 3-pointers made per game (2.1). Brown relied on her heavily, as her usage rate of 28.7% ranked in the 96th percentile nationally and first on her team, but despite that, she was an efficient scorer who got nearly two-thirds of her points from the free throw line or from behind the arc.
As a team, Brown struggled on defense last season, but Dale contributed 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks per game, the latter of which ranked sixth in the conference. Perhaps her most well-rounded performance came on February 22 against Cornell, when she had 25 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 blocks, and 4 steals.
Best skill: Shooting. Dale ranked in the 97th percentile nationally in total 3-pointers made and attempted last season, and many teams would benefit from adding a shooter like Dale to space the floor. Dale missed her sophomore season due to injury and played less than 200 minutes as a freshman, but her 85% accuracy from the free throw line last season suggests that her shooting prowess from the field was no fluke.
Madison Pack, senior forward, Columbia
2019-20 stats: 1.9 points and 1.5 rebounds in 5.5 minutes per game
Although Pack averaged just 5.9 minutes per game over the past two seasons, she was a starter and key contributor for Columbia as a freshman, averaging 5.7 points and 3.8 rebounds in 23.4 minutes per game. She also showed some touch from behind the arc, attempting over four 3-pointers per game as a freshman and making 32%. The 6’3 forward hasn’t blocked a ton of shots—just 15 in 879 career minutes—but she rebounded over 20% of opponents’ missed shots while she was on the court last season and could be an important inside-outside presence at her next school.
Best skill: Avoiding turnovers. Pack’s 3-point shooting and rebounding are promising, but perhaps most impressive is her low turnover rate. As a freshman, she turned the ball over on just 10.6% of her team’s plays while she was on the court, which ranked in the 95th percentile nationally. As a junior, her turnover rate was just 7.9%, albeit in limited minutes. That ability to hang onto the ball should make her especially exciting to coaches looking for frontcourt talent.
Kate Sramac, senior guard, Cornell
2019-20 stats: 7.9 points, 3.0 assists, and 2.0 steals in 26.9 minutes per game
Sramac was a utility player in the best sense of the term last season, leading the Big Red in assists and steals per game while starting all but one game and making 34% of her 3-pointers. Against Harvard on February 29, she stepped up in another way with a career-high 13 rebounds. For the season, she ranked second in the Ivy League in steals per game, fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3), and seventh in assists per game.
Best skill: Defensive instincts. Sramac’s steal rate of 3.8% ranked in the 98th percentile nationally, and on February 15, she terrorized Dartmouth by stealing the ball on 10% of the Big Green’s plays while she was on the court. Since 2015-16, only four other Ivy League players have done that while playing at least 30 minutes, and only two others have done it in conference play.
Asha Taylor, junior guard, Dartmouth
2019-20 stats: 6.3 points and 2.5 rebounds in 22.1 minutes per game
On November 18, Taylor announced on Twitter that she would graduate from Dartmouth early and have two years of eligibility left as a graduate transfer. To date, she is the only junior in the conference to enter the transfer portal.
As a sophomore, Taylor started in 12 of Dartmouth’s 27 games, including a standout 12-point, 6-rebound performance against UMass Lowell on December 13. All of her points in that game came from behind the arc, which was a specialty of Taylor’s last season. Over 55% of her shots were from 3-point range, and if she can improve on her 31% accuracy, she could provide a big boost for a new team over the next two seasons.
Best skill: Defending without fouling. Taylor committed a foul on 2.9% of plays while she was on the court last season, which ranked in the 82nd percentile nationally. She only picked up three fouls in a game three times and just once in conference play. That bodes well for a player who could be looking for more minutes than the 22.1 she averaged as a sophomore.
Jadyn Bush, senior forward, Harvard
2018-19 stats: 10.9 points and 8.5 rebounds in 25.9 minutes per game
Bush missed the 2019-20 season due to shoulder surgery, so even before the Ivy League canceled the 2020-21 season, Bush was going to have eligibility to use as a graduate transfer. On November 10, Bush signed to play for Cal in 2021-22, citing its proximity to her home state of Washington and the appeal of playing in a conference as tough as the Pac-12. “The opportunity to compete in the conference is an honor,” she told GoldenBearReport.com.
Bush will bring a strong interior presence and much-needed experience to the Golden Bears, whose frontcourt players are all underclassmen this season. Despite being undersized at just 5’11, Bush averaged nearly 11 points and nine rebounds as a sophomore on 53% shooting from the field. She was extremely efficient at both scoring and rebounding, ranking in the 95th percentile or better nationally in points per play (1.00) and total rebounding rate (17.0%). As a result, she also ranked in the 95th percentile in win shares per 40 minutes (0.29).
Best skill: “My number one asset is my rebounding,” Bush told GoldenBearReport.com. “I make that a priority every single possession.” As a sophomore, Bush ranked in the 92nd percentile or better in all nine rebounding statistics available on Her Hoop Stats, and as a freshman, she ranked in the 96th percentile in offensive rebounding rate, corralling 13.4% of all offensive rebound opportunities while she was on the court. That relentlessness will help a Golden Bears team that finished in the bottom half of the Pac-12 in offensive, defensive, and total rebounding rate in 2019-20.
Maria Guramare, senior forward, Harvard
2019-20 stats: 0.2 points and 1.4 rebounds in 3.8 minutes per game
Guramare played sparingly in three seasons at Harvard, averaging less than five minutes and two points per game. However, she was also much younger than all of her teammates and opponents, as she reportedly has an IQ of 151 and started her freshman year at Harvard just before her 16th birthday. After stepping away in 2017-18 to rehab a knee injury, Guramare is slated to graduate with a degree in applied mathematics this spring at age 20.
Guramare has represented her home country of France at the youth level, including at the 2017 FIBA U-18 European Championship, where she averaged 4.3 rebounds in just 13.4 minutes per game. At Harvard, she grabbed a career-high seven rebounds in eight minutes against Jacksonville State as a sophomore in November 2018.
Best skill: Defensive rebounding. In each of the past two seasons, Guramare has rebounded over 21% of opponents’ missed shots while she is on the court. It is admittedly a small sample size, but that is a higher rate than her teammate Bush posted in 2018-19, when Bush ranked in the 92nd percentile nationally. Perhaps a team will see Guramare’s youth, international experience, and production in limited minutes at the college level and decide to bet on her potential.
Katie Kinum, senior guard, Penn
2019-20 stats: 1.8 points and 0.9 rebounds in 6.2 minutes per game
Kinum’s best statistical season actually came as a freshman, when she averaged 3.9 points in 10 minutes per game and made 27 of 64 3-point attempts (42%). That included a 17-point, 4-rebound, and 3-assist performance against Georgia Tech in November 2017. Since then, she’s hit double figures just twice, yet she has still gotten playing time in 79 of a possible 86 games in her career and could continue in the role of savvy veteran off the bench for a new team.
Best skill: 3-point shooting. Kinum didn’t quite sustain her 42% 3-point shooting after her freshman season, finishing her career shooting 32% from behind the arc. But between her career 86% free-throw shooting percentage and the fact that she averaged nearly 20 and 23 points per game in her last two high school seasons, it wouldn’t be surprising to see her break out offensively at her next school.
Carlie Littlefield, senior guard, Princeton
2019-20 stats: 13.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.9 steals in 30.9 minutes per game
Littlefield has always been a defensive menace, from being her team’s defensive stopper as a fourth-grader to swiping a school-record 10 steals in a win over George Washington last season. The offensive side of the ball came a little less naturally, though you’d never know it now. Littlefield is a two-time First-Team All-Ivy honoree and a four-time Ivy League Player of the Week, and as a junior, she ranked in the top ten in the conference in seven statistical categories, including points, assists, and steals. She will graduate with over 1,000 points, 350 rebounds, 250 assists, and 130 steals in her three-year career, bringing an enviable versatility to any roster.
Littlefield hasn’t yet announced her transfer destination, but coming out of high school, she originally wanted to stay close to home in Iowa, so she might pick a Midwest school this time around. Wherever she ends up, she will likely be a game-changer on both sides of the ball, and she could even hear her name called in the 2022 WNBA Draft if she has a strong final season.
Best skill: It’s tempting to say “everything”; after all, Littlefield ranked 44th in the country last season in win shares per 40 minutes (0.39). But let’s go with her aggressiveness. This shows on both ends of the court: her steal rate of 3.3% ranked in the 95th percentile last season, and she consistently put pressure on defenses by averaging just under four free-throw attempts per game, which ranked in the 91st percentile. As Littlefield told me last season, “I’m hard-nosed and I’m tough and I’m gonna outwork you both on offense and on defense.”
Written by Jenn Hatfield
Jenn Hatfield has been a contributor to The Next since December 2018 and is currently the site's managing editor, Washington Mystics beat reporter and Ivy League beat reporter. (She also writes the "Family Rivalries" series for The Next.) Her work has also appeared at FiveThirtyEight, Her Hoop Stats and FanSided.