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BYU Women's Basketball - Shaylee Gonzales
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BYU Women’s Basketball Within Reach Of Way-Too-Early Top 25 Rankings

BYU Women's Basketball guard Shaylee Gonzales will be a key piece for the Cougars in 2021-22. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – The BYU women’s basketball program has the potential to make a special run in 2021-22. ESPN women’s college basketball analyst Charlie Creme sees the potential in Jeff Judkins’ program.

Creme had BYU in his “also considered” section of his “Way-Too-Early Top 25” for next season. BYU is the only team from the WCC to get consideration on Creme’s list. UConn checked in at No. 1, with National Champion Stanford sliding in at No. 3.

After a season where the Cougars made a run to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament before falling to National Runner-Up Arizona, BYU looks for more next season.

They have the personnel to make another run, maybe into the second weekend if they continue to make progress as a program.

BYU Women’s Basketball in 2021-22: “Everybody’s coming back…”

“Everybody’s coming back, and I’m excited about that,” said BYU coach Jeff Judkins after the loss to Arizona in the NCAA Tournament. “We kind of said in the locker room, ‘We’re ready to go. We’re ready to start it up again.’ We’ve got a lot of big goals ahead of us next year.”

With the NCAA allowing student-athletes to treat the 2020-21 academic year as a “free year” due to the COVID-19 pandemic, senior starters Paisley Harding, Sara Hamson, and Maria Albiero can all return. Along with grad transfer and leader of the team, Tegan Graham, who was clutch in the Cougars win over Rutgers in the Round of 64.

“We got a good piece of what we wanted to accomplish for next year, and we want our program to go up. Not stay where it is. We want to go up,” Judkins said. “I think they have a good feeling that we’ve got to work hard in the off-season and work on some things, so we can just get over the hump next time.”

To pair up with the seniors, BYU will have stars in WCC Co-Player of the Year Shaylee Gonzales at guard and Honorable Mention All-American Lauren Gustin returning in the frontcourt. It’s a roster that has the potential to be the best team in Judkins’ two decades as head coach.

BYU women’s basketball finished the 2020-21 season with a 19-6 record overall and was second place in the West Coast Conference behind Gonzaga. The Cougars have won at least one game in the past two NCAA Tournaments.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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