After a Round of 32 exit in the NCAA tournament and the departure of Rachel Ranke, Malene Lind Pedersen and Jada Moore, Kansas State women’s basketball will re-tool for its 2022-23 campaign.
The good news for K-State is that the pieces it leaned on most heavily this past season are likely returning. Star center Ayoka Lee has already announced her return for next season. Emilee Ebert, Serena Sundell, Brylee Glenn and Jaelyn Glenn are also set to return.
Heavenly Greer, who redshirted in the 2021-22 season, will provide much-needed depth at the forward position. The 6 foot 3 inch forward transferred from Oklahoma after being an All-America nominee and a top-100 player coming out of high school.
The incoming freshman class is one of the best of the Mittie era and was ranked 23rd in the nation by All-Star Girls Report at one point.
The class is headlined by three McDonald’s All-American nominees: guards Michayla Gatewood and Ja’Mia Harris of DeSoto High School in DeSoto, Texas, and forward Eliza Maupin from St. Louis, Missouri. Guard Mikayla Parks, a two-time state champion from Norman, Oklahoma, rounds out the class.
With the four signees from incoming and the three departures, head coach Jeff Mittie will have three scholarships to work with in the transfer portal this offseason.
The freshmen and Greer should provide some of what the team was missing this season: depth at the point guard and center spots and some scoring help for Lee.
The Wildcats will want to add more consistent three-point shooting to open up the paint for Lee and force defenses to guard the whole floor. The team also needs at least one more player who can create their own shot on offense.
On defense, K-State’s current roster is full of stingy one-on-one defenders, and their size and length at the guard position plays well towards Mittie’s fondness for the 2-3 zone.
The Big 12 is trending toward increased depth at the forward and center spots to guard the league’s talented centers more physically. That is a spot K-State could stand to add some depth and athleticism through the portal as well.
If K-State is going to add someone big, it needs to fit the scheme and mold of Lee on offense, even if they likely will not be as effective a center as her.
Schedules have not been released for next season yet and likely won’t be until the fall, but the team will play in the U.S. Virgin Islands for the Paradise Jam, along with Power-5 programs Arkansas, Clemson, Georgia and Wisconsin.
K-State is not the only Big 12 team improving in the offseason, but the Wildcats should find themselves in the mix at the top half of the league next year and competing for a better seed than the No. 9 they received in this year’s NCAA Tournament.