November 21, 2022
Patriot League transfers playing big roles in their new homes
Former Patriot League stars are suiting up for new teams across the nation
Impact players from around the Patriot League took their undergraduate degrees and game skills to play in conferences around the country this season. Former top Patriot League performers seeking graduate opportunities have landed in the ACC, Atlantic 10, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, Summit League and the WCC.
How did they get there? Student-athletes have been afforded an additional year of eligibility approved by the NCAA due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and NCAA rules around transferring have relaxed, too.
Which former Patriot League stars are making an impression on their new team in the early season? Here’s a look around the nation, highlighting notable players and performances:
Taylor O’Brien, Florida State University — The former Bucknell guard has made three starts for the Seminoles and plays the most minutes on the team at 33.6 minutes per game.
O’Brien is the squad’s second-leading scorer at 16.3 points per contest, shooting 19-for-41 from the floor (46.3% FG). The Pennsylvania native has helped FSU to its first 5-0 start since 2019-20.
The former First Team All-Patriot League star is currently on the mend. She’s missed the last two games due to a lower leg injury but is expected to return to the line-up soon.
O’Brien is pursuing a degree in sport management.
Marly Walls, Pepperdine University — O’Brien’s former backcourt mate with the Bison helped the Waves to their first win of the season this weekend. Walls posted a team-high 13 points, five rebounds and six assists in a 67-58 win over UC Riverside.
She’s started all four games and is playing 37.5 minutes a game. The veteran point guard is scoring 13.8 points and dishing a team-high 5.2 assists per outing.
Walls is shooting 46.9% FG from the floor and has a team-leading eight steals. The Waves are 1-3. She’s pursuing a Master’s degree in global business.
Avery LaBarbera, University of Wisconsin — Last season’s Patriot League Player of the Year has helped the Badgers to a 3-2 mark, starting all 5 games.
The former Holy Cross playmaker is averaging 9.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. She’s second on the team in rebounding. The 5’6 guard was second in the Patriot League in rebounding as a senior, pulling down 8.6 boards per game.
LaBarbera played a season-high 38 minutes in a 77-63 loss to No. 25 Kansas State. She leads the team in minutes played with 32.8 per contest.
League fans will want to tune in on Dec. 1 when O’Brien’s Florida State team visits LaBarbera and her Wisconsin squad at the Kohl Center in Madison as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Emily Fisher, Texas Christian University — The former American University point guard has helped the Horned Frogs to a 2-2 record, starting all four games.
The Australian native is playing 30.8 minutes per game. Fisher is shooting a team-high 50.0% from the floor while scoring 7.0 points and pulling down 5.0 rebounds per game.
Last season’s All-Patriot League Third Team guard scored 10 points and dished four assists in a 75-48 road loss to No. 8 North Carolina. Fisher averages a team-high four assists an outing.
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Emma Grothaus, University of Washington — The 6’4 forward has helped the Huskies to a 4-0 start. She’s appeared in all four games, playing 13.0 minutes per contest.
The former Lehigh post player is shooting a team-high 68.8% from the floor on an 11-for-16 effort. By the numbers, she’s scoring 7.3 points per game and hauling in 4.5 rebounds.
Grothaus was named to the 2023 Lisa Leslie Award Watch List and is pursuing a Masters of Science in Informational Systems.
Clair Steele, St. Mary’s College — The move to St. Mary’s is a homecoming for the California native who grew up following the Gaels.
Steele has stepped into a starting point guard role after leading the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio last season for Lehigh. St. Mary’s is off to a 2-2 start and Steele has started all four games.
The crafty guard is playing 29.5 minutes per game and is third on the team in scoring at 8.5 points per contest. She leads the Gaels with 13 assists.
Just like old times, Steele will face former Bucknell rival Walls twice this season in league play. St. Mary’s hosts Pepperdine on Jan. 7 and travels to Malibu for another match-up with the Waves on Feb. 2.
Steele is pursuing a Master’s degree in management and technology.
Taylor Brown, North Dakota State University — American University’s top forward a season ago, Brown has helped the Bison to a 3-0 start, including a team-leading 16 points in a 71-65 win over Minnesota.
Brown is shooting 51.7% from the floor, converting 15-for-29 shots. She’s posting 11.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. She’s made three starts and is playing 25.3 minutes per contest.
The graduate student was a 2021-22 All-Patriot League Third Team selection as a senior at American, leading the Eagles to the Patriot League title.
Riley Childs, George Mason University — The former Boston University forward has helped the Patriots to a 2-3 start.
She played a season-high 27 minutes in a 53-52 loss to Robert Morris University, scoring eight points and grabbing eight rebounds. Childs is posting 6.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per contest.
She’s shooting 45.8% FG on 11-for-24 from the field and has a team-high eight blocks.
Childs has started three games and is logging 21.8 minutes per contest.
Jade Edwards, DePaul University — The Chicago native made a hometown return for her graduate season. She played high school basketball for the Latin School just two miles from campus.
Edwards started and played two games this season before suffering a knee injury in the second game of the season in an 86-79 defeat at Northern Illinois University just six minutes into the contest.
The ACL and meniscus tears in her left knee will force her to miss the rest of the season.
Edwards is pursuing a Master’s degree in professional communications.
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Written by Todd Goclowski
Todd Goclowski currently covers the Patriot League for The Next. Goclowski brings 25 years of coaching experience to his role as an analyst and writer, including 19 years of coaching women's basketball in the NCAA at the D1 and D3 levels.