Utah Women’s Basketball Makes ESPN’s ‘Way-Too-Early Top 25’ List
SALT LAKE CITY- It has been a slow build for Utah women’s basketball coach Lynne Roberts. In her seventh season at the helm, however, her team is finally reaping some rewards. Monday morning, ESPN dropped their ‘Way-Too-Early Top 25’ list for the 2023 season with the Utes coming in at #19 after an impressive run in the Pac-12 Tournament and appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
The Utes’ reemergence into the women’s college basketball scene comes after 11 years of dormancy in post-season play. Roberts and the Utes look to be set up well for 2023, with senior Dru Gylten likely being the only member not coming back. (Gylten is eligible for the extra Covid-19 year, but early reports seem to indicate she will move on.)
Utah Women’s Basketball Trending Up
2022 appears to be only the beginning for Roberts and her crew. ESPN noted the talented youth returning for the 2023 season as a big reason for Utah’s #19 ranking in their too-early predictions.
Some of the biggest keys according to ESPN for the Utes come in Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Gianna Kneepkens, leading scorer Jenna Johnson and three-point shooter Kennady McQueen.
Kneepkens was impressive both offensively and defensively in her debut season. She averaged 11.8 points per game for the Utes and 4.4 rebounds. Johnson was another impressive freshman who averaged 12 points per game for Utah along with 4.1 rebounds and 1.1 assists. McQueen made her mark for the Utes as a defensive stalwart averaging 3.7 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game as a sophomore.
Big Piece Of The Puzzle
Injuries have always seemed to plague the Utes and 2022 was no different. The loss of Peyton McFarland in the Pac-12 Tournament hurt Utah in the NCAA Tournament. Her return to full health for 2023 will be a boost to what appears to be a very good roster. McFarland’s return would add 55% field goal shooting for the Utes along with 4.3 rebounds per game.
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