The college basketball talent pool is as deep as ever this 2022-23 season, despite a few star players going down with injuries in the offseason, including UConn’s Paige Bueckers and Oregon’s Sedona Prince.
Before the games tip off Monday, Just Women’s Sports ranks the top 25 players in the women’s game. Get ready for the season with our experts’ picks for individual awards, national champion and other categories here.
Last year’s Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Final Four Most Outstanding player is the most impactful player in college basketball. Boston’s ability to control a game on both sides of the floor led the Gamecocks to the national championship last season and makes them the favorites once again. The 6-foot-5 forward averaged 16.8 points and 12.5 rebounds a game last season while shooting 54 percent from the field. Boston is an offensive asset both when she has the ball and when she doesn’t. The senior’s footwork and strength allow her to score at will, and her dominance on the offensive glass means the rest of the Gamecocks can be aggressive, knowing their star forward will be there to clean up misses.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Boston is the way she performs in high-pressure situations. See her impressive 2022 NCAA Tournament as an example. Who could forget how she scored 28 points and grabbed 22 rebounds to lead her team past a pesky North Carolina squad and into the Elite Eight?
Boston and Clark are basically the 1A and 1B players on this list, and the two will likely lead the Player of the Year race this season, just like they did in 2022. Clark is a sniper when it comes to shooting the ball. Nowhere on the floor is off limits to her (hello, logo 3s), and I’ve yet to see a defender or even double team that can slow her down. At 6-foot, Clark is long-limbed and strong, so she is able to finish through contact, which is sometimes the only strategy to stopping the dynamic scorer. And when she gets to the line, Clark hits 88.1 percent of her free-throw attempts.
The Hawkeyes star led the nation in scoring (27) and assists (eight) per game last season, marking the first time in history a player ranked first in both categories. She also grabbed eight rebounds per game, meaning she was dangerously close to averaging a triple-double.
As a truly positionless player, Jones is defining basketball for the younger generations as the game trends in that direction. Her ability to break down opponents off the dribble allows her to score on bigger defenders, and her post skills make her a mismatch for guards. Jones led Stanford to a national title two years ago and a Final Four last season, showing tremendous poise in high-pressure situations. Her one flaw is 3-point shooting, but if she devoted time this offseason to improving from long range, Jones will be an even bigger problem for opposing defenses.
The basketball world didn’t get a true look at Miller last season, as a knee injury limited the guard to 18 games and a drop in production. But those who saw Miller play during her sophomore season (when she averaged 17.3 points and 5.8 rebounds a game) and at the end of the 2022 season (when she had 23 and 24 points in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament) know that she’s an elite talent.
At 6-3, Miller is a tall guard who knows how to use her body. She’s excellent on the fast break, with or without the ball, and is skilled at finding cutting lanes to the rim. A big chunk of Miller’s cohort transferred in the offseason, so the Terrapins will be her team this season. Expect big things from the lanky combo-guard.
Iowa State fans rejoiced when Joens announced she was returning for a fifth year. The two-time Cheryl Miller award winner is Iowa State’s all-time leading scorer, a mark she reached last season against Texas. She averaged 20.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game during her junior season and recorded 18 doubles-doubles. That rebounding number is particularly impressive when you take into account that the 6-1 Joens is undersized for a forward.
She has a high-basketball IQ and a versatility that allows her to score from a multitude of positions. Joens is particularly impressive in the paint, where she uses a series of pivots and up-and-unders to score around bigger defenders.
Stanford wouldn’t have won the 2021 national title without Cameron Brink, whose six blocks and overall defense helped the Cardinal secure a close win over Arizona. Brink’s talent was clear then, and she was even better last season, averaging 13.5 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game. The 6-4 Brink covers more ground than almost any other post in the game. The one concern with the forward is foul trouble, but if Brink can increase her minutes, she’s going to be a top player this season. Offensively, she has a soft touch around the rim and can extend to the midrange. Her 3-point shot is improving, which means more openings for her teammates.
The Hokies senior has perfected the art of the seal and score. Kitley has great body control, footwork and awareness under the basket, and she doesn’t overuse the dribble — something that leads to turnovers for bigs. She scores in a variety of ways, from turn-and-face jumpers to slicing between defenders with a well-placed step or around them with a pivot. Last season, she averaged 18.1 points and 9.8 rebounds per game for a near double-double and ended her season with a school-record 42 points in an NCAA Tournament loss to Florida Gulf Coast. At 6-6, she already has the physical skills to block shots, but Kitley’s body control and awareness mean she’s able to do it without fouling, averaging 2.4 blocks per contest.
The 2021 No. 1 recruit didn’t get a chance to show off her full skill set last season as injuries limited her playing time. But coach Geno Auriemma says she’s “as good as anybody we’ve had at this point,” which is quite the statement when you consider the plethora of talent that’s come out of UConn. Last year, Fudd averaged 12.1 points per game while shooting 43 percent from beyond the arc and 91.2 percent from the free-throw line.
The sophomore has picture-perfect shooting form, with a quick release and a high-release point. And though her 3-point shooting was a highlight last season, Fudd is much more than a long-range shooter — she’s an athletic playmaker whose decision-making off the dribble is outstanding. Fudd’s potential this season is virtually limitless, and the Huskies will count on her to lead the offense in the absence of the injured Paige Bueckers.
As a freshman, Miles took Notre Dame to the Sweet 16 and led her team in both points per game (13.7) and assists per game (7.4). That assist mark was also second in the country, behind Iowa’s Clark. Even more impressive was Miles’ near 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. The Fighting Irish have already counted on Miles to make the right decisions, and that skill will only improve this season. The rising sophomore is a true floor general, whose ability to read defenses and create for herself and others make her difficult to contain both on the fastbreak and in a halfcourt setting. Expect more of the same from Miles this time around.
As a freshman, Morrow led the country in rebounding with 13.8 per game and led DePaul with 21.9 points per game. The 6-1 forward attacks the paint with equal parts strength and speed. Her first step is quick, allowing her to beat defenders off the dribble or off a post move with her back to the basket. Her understanding of spacing and body control makes her an ideal target for guards when she’s in the paint or when she dives off a screen. Morrow was dominant against tough competition last season, including a 30-point, 14-rebound performance against Connecticut in January. With a season of experience under her belt, basketball fans should expect the Second Team All-American to be even better this year.
After three seasons at Maryland, the senior guard found a new home in the offseason. Last year, Owusu’s production dipped from 17.9 points, 5.9 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game as a sophomore to 14.3 points, 3.7 assists and 3.1 rebounds a game. Now, with a fresh start, all eyes will be on the 6-foot guard to reach her potential. Owusu’s unique build and athleticism make her a force on the attack. She’s powerful but also speedy, with a combination of finesse and pure strength around the rim that makes her tough to guard. When she’s at her best, Owusu is also an excellent playmaker and floor general, which should be even more evident this season with Kitley as her teammate in the post.
Texas plays a fast-paced, intense style on offense and defense, and at the heart of that system is Harmon. The guard wasted no time establishing herself as Texas’ floor general last season, playing 30 minutes a game and averaging 11.4 points, five assists and 4.4 rebounds per contest. Her 5:2.2 assist-to-turnover ratio was particularly impressive for a first-year player. The Big 12 Freshman of the year has top-level speed and athleticism and is effective going to the rim because of the way she changes speeds. Harmon is difficult to contain off the dribble and is a pesky on-ball defender, something that pushed Texas to the Elite Eight last season.
Texas already had a strong backcourt with Rori Harmon leading the way, and the Longhorns lucked out even further when they signed BYU transfer Gonzales. The 2021-22 WCC Player of the Year averaged 18.3 points (third in the WCC), 5.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists (second in the WCC) and 2.3 steals last season. Gonzales is a dynamic scorer who, despite being 5-10, thrived for BYU in the post. The guard could beat defenders in the paint with her understanding of space and body control and her slew of acrobatic moves. She’s also strong for her size and able to finish through contact or get to the line, where she makes 83 percent of her attempts.
The Louisville guard averaged 14.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists while leading the Cardinals to the Final Four last season. Van Lith, who averaged 31 minutes per game, is the ultimate competitor whose fiery nature drives her team. The 5-7 lefty is craft going to the rim and quick off the bounce, with excellent handles. Van Lith has also mastered the mid-range jumper, a skill that helps her avoid bigger defenders when necessary. The guard is a shot hunter who also understands how to run an offense and make her teammates better.
The fifth-year guard does a little bit of everything for her team, averaging 16.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game last year. The past two seasons were two of the most successful in Indiana’s recent history, and much of that has to do with Berger. The dynamic player recorded an NCAA-high three triple-doubles in 2020-21, further cementing her status as a player who can do it all. But where she really shines is off the dribble and going to the basket. Berger reads what the defense gives her and isn’t afraid to use back-to-back dribble moves to get to the rim. She also thrives in the midrange, adding another element to her already strong attack.
After a stellar sophomore season at Maryland, during which she averaged 17.8 points and 10.6 rebounds a game, Reese made the decision to transfer to LSU. At 6-3 with long limbs, Reese has the ideal body type for s stretch forward. She spent most of her time in the paint at Maryland, but she is also capable of playing on the perimeter and running the floor. Reese has a nose for the ball on the boards and finishes well around the rim. That lanky frame also allows her to block shots (1.1 per game last season) and get her hands in passing lanes (1.7 steals per game).
A 6-1 forward with guard skills, Siegrist was second in the country in scoring last season, averaging 25.3 points per game. The senior is a creative scorer who’s strong inside and deft at cutting to the hoop, always moving to find the best angle to catch the ball. Siegrist can shoot from outside, too — making 34.6 percent of her attempts last season — and is equipped with a strong step-back jumper. She also contributes on the glass, averaging 9.2 rebounds per game, a number that has been consistent over her three seasons with the program.
South Carolina is stacked with talent, and Cooke is a key piece to that puzzle. Her numbers decreased last season, from 15.9 points per game to 10.7 (her lowest number in three seasons), but her talent remains. Cooke was playing alongside Boston in a year when the POY exploded offensively and the guard took a secondary role. Still, Cooke is a major offensive weapon who shows up when her team needs her, such as scoring 15 points against North Carolina to help the Gamecocks advance to the Elite Eight last year. Cooke is aggressive off the dribble and understands how to use angles to create scoring opportunities for herself. She’s also smart enough to defer to Boston, because she knows that’s how her team wins big games.
As positionless basketball becomes more common, Czinano is a true center, and that works perfectly for Iowa. Her 21.1 points per game were 12th in the country last year, but it’s her efficiency that is most impressive. Czinano is selective, making an NCAA-leading 67.9 percent of her attempts last season. The 6-3 center has textbook positioning and good hands, making her an ideal target for Clark and the other Iowa guards. Her best performance last season came in the Big Ten tournament title game, when Czinano had 30 points and 10 rebounds to help Iowa top Indiana, and she is capable of that every time she steps on the court.
Kelly lived up to her potential as the No. 4 guard in the Class of 2020, leading her team to the Sweet 16 last year. She was a consistent play-maker for the Tar Heels all season, showing poise uncharacteristic of a sophomore. Kelly averaged 16.5 points, 2.6 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game, while showcasing her vision and court awareness at the guard spot. The All-ACC player shot 36 percent from beyond the arc and 85 percent from the free-throw line. She ran the show for the Tar Heels and will take on the same responsibilities this time around.
As a junior, Osborne led UCLA in scoring with 16.4 points per game despite battling a nagging ankle injury. She had nine 20-point games and was a steadying force on an inconsistent team. Now a senior, Osborne is healthy and ready to take her game to the next level. The 5-9 guard’s skill set starts on the defensive end, where she uses her quick hands to frustrate ball-handlers and her speed and high-IQ to get in passing lanes. Her 3.9 assists per game also led her squad, and despite being undersized, Osborne grabbed 5.1 rebounds per game. The Bruins have plenty of young talent coming in this season, but Osborne will bring the maturity and experience that this team needs to be successful.
Tennessee was without Horston for a good chunk of the season after she suffered an elbow injury on Feb. 17, and the Vols clearly missed her in the postseason. The 6-2 guard averaged 16.2 points, 9.4 rebounds and four assists per game, emerging quickly as the team’s top player. Horston is an athletic guard who can elevate and finish around the rim. The senior takes Tennessee to another level, making everything happen for the Vols when she drives to the hoop and finds space for herself or for an open teammate. Horston is also a strong defender who plays with contagious energy.
Having played for the New Zealand national team since she was 16 years old, Leger-Walker isn’t afraid of big moments. She was the Pac-12 Player of the Year in 2021 and put up similar numbers last year, averaging 16.1 points per game to lead Washington State. She saw her shooting percentages dip because of increased defensive pressure, but the rising junior is too skilled not to bounce back. She’s fearless going to the basket, with a slew of acrobatic moves that help her finish around the rim.
Coming off a season in which she averaged 19.7 points and 4.2 assists per game, Sheldon did more than her fair share for Ohio State. The rising senior dictates the Buckeyes offense, knowing when to speed up on the break or when to slow the attack. She gets to the rim with urgency and knows how to use her body to shield shot blockers. An excellent passer, Sheldon also knows how to set up her teammates, making everyone around her better. And she still finds enough energy to play elite defense — Sheldon was named to the All-Big Ten First Team and the All-Big Ten Defensive Team last season.
Princeton lost leading scorer Abby Meyers to the transfer portal, but they are in good shape with Chen, who is poised for a breakout season. She averaged 10.5 points, 3.2 assists and 2.9 rebounds a game and really hit her stride in the Ivy league tournament, where she was named Most Outstanding Player. The junior has one of the best pull-up jumpers in the country and uses it frequently after she beats the initial defender off the dribble. Because the Ivy League didn’t play in 2020 due to COVD-19, last year was Chen’s first season of action. With Princeton ranked 24th to start the season, expectations are high for the Tigers. They will need Chen to be at the top of her game.
Lauren Betts, freshman, C, Stanford
Kiki Rice, freshman, G, UCLA
I didn’t include any freshmen on this list because, despite how well they might have played at the high-school level, they have yet to prove anything in college. But as the No. 1 and 2 recruits, respectively, Lauren Betts and Kiki Rice have enough talent to make a top-25 list, and I expect them to be there next season.
Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.