Stanford’s roster will look a lot different this season, but Cameron Brink isn’t worried.
In fact, the senior says her team is in better shape than people might realize. The Cardinal lost several players to graduation, including standout guard Haley Jones to the WNBA Draft and Lauren Betts, the No. 1 recruit in 2022, to rival UCLA in the transfer portal.
The Cardinal won a national championship during Brink’s freshman year in 2021. That created high expectations for a program that, despite making nine Final Fours since 2008, hadn’t won a title since 1992. Then, Stanford went undefeated in conference play in 2021-22 before losing to UConn in the Final Four.
Last season was a disappointment for the Cardinal, as Ole Miss upset the No. 1 seed in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. It was the first time since 2007 that Stanford hadn’t made it to the Sweet 16.
That, followed by a slew of transfers, put Stanford and head coach Tara VanDerveer in an unusual position. Now, the storied program must contend with the impending demise of the Pac-12 conference. In the wake of multiple Pac-12 universities agreeing to join other sports conferences in 2024, due in large part to college football media deals, Stanford is in preliminary talks to move to the ACC.
Despite the continuously evolving offseason turmoil, the Cardinal are focused on the upcoming season after reloading with a solid freshman class, according to Brink.
“We’ve done a lot of rebuilding, but I could not be happier with what we have so far,” Brink said during WNBA All-Star weekend last month. “It’s still such early stages, but the freshmen are legit. I’m just so excited to see them grow.”
Stanford signed five-star guard Courtney Ogden, who averaged 21.3 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game during her senior season at Atlanta’s Westminster School. They also added two four-star players, forward NuNu Agara and guard Chloe Cardy.
.@CourtneyP_Ogden went OFF in the first half 😤 pic.twitter.com/JJxlDq7nmV— Girls UAA (@UANextGHoops) August 12, 2022
.@CourtneyP_Ogden went OFF in the first half 😤 pic.twitter.com/JJxlDq7nmV
Brink, the two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, says she’s been impressed with all three freshmen so far.
“They’re open to learning and are so coachable,” she said. “They have the best attitudes.”
The 21-year-old Brink will be tasked with leading a Stanford team this season against tough competition in the Pac-12 (while the conference still stands). Former teammate Betts’ transfer to UCLA turns the Bruins into a contender full of young talent, while USC landed top recruit JuJu Watkins and Arizona boasts another talented recruiting class led by three five-star recruits.
Colorado and Utah finished first and third in the Pac-12, respectively, last season and return most of their rosters. That includes Pac-12 Player of the Year Alissa Pili for Utah and NCAA Tournament standout Frida Formann for Colorado.
Despite the competition, Brink has confidence in her Stanford squad.
“We are going to be really good,” she said.
Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.