Excitement looms as the beginning of the 2022-23 season kicks off for Kansas State women’s basketball on Nov. 7 at Bramlage Coliseum. The young team has the opportunity to build chemistry and cohesion entering into a new season.
While returning players like Emilee Ebert, Serena Sundell, Brylee Glenn and Jaelyn Glenn are a good sign for the Wildcats, an injury to the team’s star player Ayoka Lee is a huge blow. Ruled out in late August after an announcement of her season-ending knee surgery, Lee won’t return until the 2023-24 season. However, Lee’s absence will provide more opportunity for new talent to prove themselves.
One player showing promise in early exhibition matches is senior guard Gabby Gregory, who scored 22 points and led with nine rebounds in their victory over Fort Hays State.
Two years prior, Gregory was touted as one of the Big 12’s top scorers but had some setbacks due to injury. This year she has the opportunity to get back on track and help lead the team in points.
Sundell, sophomore guard, also assumed leadership responsibilities in Lee’s absence. She has proven to be a promising player in her role as a team leader, learning from Lee as well as other veterans.
Sundell was named to the preseason All-Big 12 team as she quickly became the first guard in school history to reach 300 points, 175 assists and 20 blocks in her freshman campaign. The team will likely need to lean on her this year with the loss of Lee. Sundell displayed the ability to contribute in multiple facets by recording seven points, eight assists, seven rebounds and two steals against Fort Hays State.
The team has proven success in recent history by reaching the March Madness tournament four times with head coach Jeff Mittie at the helm. Mittie has a 56.9% win with a record of 145-110 in his tenure at K-State since the 2014-15 season. He looks to secure his 600th career win in his 31st season as head coach in college basketball.
Entering the preseason, K-State women’s basketball was ranked sixth in Big 12 polling. The team has exceeded their initial poll ranking 18 times in the last 24 seasons.
Expectations for the season are unknown — time will tell how this team works to fill the loss of Lee and anticipation builds on who will step up for K-State this season.