2017 Conference Carolinas Women's Basketball Preview and Players to Watch

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The 2017-18 Conference Carolinas Women's Basketball preseason poll has been released. Limestone College will enter the season as the favorite to win the Conference Carolinas Women's Basketball Championship, according to Conference Carolinas coaches.

1. Limestone College: The Saints, who received votes in both the WBCA and D2SIDA preseason national polls, earned 89 points from Conference coaches, including eight first-place votes.

Limestone found itself in the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship field in 2016-17 after posting a 27-5 overall record and 21-1 Conference Carolinas mark. The Saints also captured their seventh straight Conference Carolinas regular season title last season and will look to make it eight straight in 2017-18.

Limestone lost its most decorated women's basketball player in Jasmine Kearse to graduation in 2016-17, but it returns a pair of all-conference picks in Jasmine Richardson and Keidra Smith. The senior duo should keep the Saints winning ways going in Conference Carolinas with little trouble.

Players to Watch:

  • *Jasmine Richardson (Sr.) - Guard
  • *Keidra Smith (Sr.) - Guard

2. King University: The Tornado enter the season not far behind Limestone, earning 78 points and one first-place vote.

King punched a ticket to its first NCAA Women's Basketball Championship after capturing the 2016-17 Conference Carolinas Women's Basketball Championship crown. The Tornado finished second in Conference Carolinas with a 19-3 record in conference and overall 25-7 record.

Senior center Amy Van Deventer could shoulder the load down low for King, but expect Arnelle Collins and Kristin Cupples to bring the high energy guard play the Tornado are known for.

Players to Watch:

  • Arnelle Collins (Sr.) - Guard
  • Kristin Cupples (Jr.) - Guard
  • Amy Van Deventer (Sr.) - Center

3. Barton College: The Bulldogs enter this season ranked third with 73 points and one first-place vote. Barton ended last season 18-12 overall and 14-8 in Conference play.

Kianna Wynn, a 2016-17 all-conference selection, is arguably the best player returning in Conference Carolinas after averaging a double-double (18.4 ppg & 10.4 rpg) during her sophomore season. Paired with forward Karimah Dean, the Bulldogs may have the best one-two punch in the league.

Players to Watch:

  • Karimah Dean (Sr.) - Forward
  • Dinah Neal (Jr.) - Guard
  • *Kianna Wynn (Jr.) - Forward

4. University of Mount Olive: The Trojans are narrowly ranked fourth with 72 points. Mount Olive finished last season 18-4 in league play and 22-7 overall.

The Trojans also boast a dynamic duo in All-Conference Carolinas performers Felecity Havens and Ni'Ya Styles. Havens averaged a double-double of 15.8 points and 10.7 rebounds per game, while Styles ranked fourth in the league with 17.5 points per game in 2016-17. The Trojans should be a tough test for anyone in Conference Carolinas this season.

Players to Watch:

  • *Felecity Havens (Jr.) - Guard/Forward
  • *Ni'Ya Styles (Sr.) - Guard

5. North Greenville University: The Crusaders tallied 55 points and are fifth-place to open 2017-18. North Greenville finished last season by going an even 14-14 overall and 11-11 in Conference Carolinas play.

NGU has the reigning Freshman of the Year and All-Conference Carolinas performer Karen Donehew back in the fold for her sophomore campaign. Joining the forward is senior guard and former all-conference selection Cameron Carter, which should give the Crusaders the best inside-out combination in the league.

Players to Watch:

  • Cameron Carter (Sr.) - Guard
  • *Karen Donehew (So.) - Forward

T6. Belmont Abbey College: Belmont Abbey tallied 46 points and are tied with the Flying Fleet of Erskine in sixth-place to open the year. The Crusaders went 11-17 overall in 2016-17 while posting a 9-13 conference mark.

The Crusaders will call on the senior trio of Alex Busch, Taylor Gittings and Briana Grier to get them over .500 in 2017-18 and make a run to the Conference Carolinas Women's Basketball Championship.

Players to Watch:

  • Alex Busch (Sr.) - Guard
  • Taylor Gittings (Sr.) - Center
  • Briana Grier (Sr.) - Guard

T6. Erskine College: The Flying Fleet tied for sixth with the Crusaders of Belmont Abbey with 46 points from Conference coaches. Erskine turned in a 12-17 overall record and 10-12 Conference Carolinas mark.

Christian Brown and Megan Davis will be tasked with increasing their output in 2017-18 and could be the boost the Flying Fleet need to get over .500 in the win column.

Players to Watch:

  • Christian Brown (Sr.) - Forward
  • Megan Davis (Jr.) - Guard
  • Alexis Scott (Sr.) - Forward

8. Converse College: The Valkyries collected 30 points and enter the season ranked eighth. Converse finished 5-21 overall and 4-18 in league play a season ago.

The 2017-18 Valkyries should be fun to watch with All-Conference Carolinas performer Brianna James returning for her junior campaign. The guard finished in the top-10 of the Conference statistical standings after averaging 15.8 points per outing last year.

Players to Watch:

  • Nigeria Davis (Fr.) - Forward
  • *Brianna James (Jr.) - Guard
  • Abigail Lewis (Jr.) - Forward

9. Southern Wesleyan University: The Warriors posted 28 points from Conference coaches to enter the season ranked ninth. Southern Wesleyan went 6-20 overall in 2016-17, which included a 4-18 league record.

Players to Watch:

  • Tatiyana Mahone (Sr.) - Guard/Forward
  • Breanna Richardson (So.) - Guard
  • Aneysa Williams (Jr.) - Guard

10. Lees-McRae College: The Bobcats round out the preseason poll in 10th with 23 points. Lees-McRae went 4-18 in Conference Carolinas play and 4-24 overall in 2016-17.

Players to Watch:

  • Alexis Ammons (Jr.) - Forward
  • Brea Forbes (Jr.) - Guard
  • Markia Stacey (Jr.) - Guard


*denotes 2016-17 All-Conference Carolinas selection

 

2017-18 Women's Basketball Preseason Poll

School (first-place votes) Total
1. Limestone (8) 89
2. King (1) 78
3. Barton (1) 73
4. Mount Olive 72
5. North Greenville 55
T6. Belmont Abbey 46
T6. Erskine 46
8. Converse 30
9. Southern Wesleyan 28
10. Lees-McRae 23

 


Conference Carolinas is a NCAA Division II athletics conference made up of 11 teams from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. These institutions consist of: Barton College, Belmont Abbey College, Converse College, Emmanuel College, Erskine College, King University, Lees-McRae College, Limestone College, University of Mount Olive, North Greenville University, and Southern Wesleyan University. Emmanuel College is currently completing the NCAA Membership Process and will be fully competing in league championships in the near future.