The ACU women’s basketball team is getting excited for what looms on the horizon for this upcoming season.
The Wildcats boast a young roster full of underclassmen who are eager to dip their feet in the pool of college basketball.
Head coach Shawna Lavender said she is excited about the beginning of a new season in which several players will have the opportunity to compete at the collegiate level – something foreign to them.
“The fun thing about this year is that we’re very new,” Lavender said. “For a lot of these girls, this is their first go-around with college basketball. It’s been both fun and rewarding to see them develop as a team from September to where they are currently at. We’ve come a long way and made several strides in the right direction.”
“New” is the appropriate adjective for this group of girls, with the roster comprised of one senior, one junior (a transfer student), six sophomores and seven freshmen.
With these new players comes a sense of excitement and anticipation for the season ahead – emotions corresponding to a drive to succeed and work diligently in all phases of the game, Lavender said.
“All of the girls have worked their tails off this offseason in preparation for the season, and I know that their hard work will play large dividends on the court for us,” Lavender said.
Autumn Whitaker is the lone senior on the roster and has played an integral role for the Wildcats even before the season’s start.
“We are really blessed to have Autumn on our roster this year,” Lavender said. “She brings about a sense of purpose and desire to win that is so important to have, especially on a team with inexperience. She provides a great example to the girls on and off the court and has really stepped into a leadership role.”.
The team is returning six players from last year’s roster, including Whitaker, sophomore guards Shelby Shipley, Cecilee Perez, Danielle Hartley and post Emily Miller.
Kelsey Smith, a sophomore transfer post player from Missouri State University, has shown great potential and should be a dominant force in the post game for the Wildcats.
“Kelsey is definitely going to be a force in our conference,” Lavender said. “I’m really expecting her to take a lot of the load down low for us and have a solid year.”
Freshmen Savannah Smith, Hillari Adam, Renata Marquez and Mack Lankford will all see playing time for ACU this year.
“I am so excited for this season,” Whitaker said. “We have a great group of girls who are committed to working hard and improving. We have seen so much progression through our scrimmages, and I just can’t wait to see what this team will accomplish this year.”
ACU will open up its regular season at noon Friday in San Antonio against Hillsdale College, and then play St. Edwards at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.