During the 2023 WNBA Draft on Monday night, the Washington Mystics selected Stephanie Soares with the fourth pick before promptly trading her to the Dallas Wings. In return, the Mystics received picks in the 2024 and 2025 drafts.

Soares was a sought-after prospect in this year’s draft — 6-foot-6 forward who can shoot 3-pointers is hard to come by. But the Mystics were willing to deal her because of the strength of the next two WNBA draft classes.

With a fifth year of NCAA eligibility still on the table for players as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, several of the top upcoming prospects could declare for next year’s draft or the 2025 draft. Between the two, WNBA teams will have a deep group of prospects to choose from. Here are the top 10 in those classes.

1. Caitlin Clark, G, Iowa

The Iowa guard is one of the most well-rounded prospects we’ve seen in a long time. Her scoring, passing and rebounding skills make her a triple-double threat every game and could set her up to be the No. 1 draft pick in 2024 or 2025 (depending on when she declares). Clark is known for her scoring ability — she can shoot from almost anywhere — but it’s her passing ability, both in the halfcourt and on the fastbreak, that makes the Iowa star a potential No. 1 pick.

2. Cameron Brink, F, Stanford

Brink is the kind of player that will have WNBA coaches and executives salivating. A big with guard skills is one of the most coveted player types as the WNBA continues to evolve into a positionless league. Brink is already a top shot-blocker and scorer on the inside. If she continues to develop her 3-point shot, the Stanford forward will become even more sought after at the next level.

Angel Reese was named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player after leading LSU to the NCAA title. (C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

3. Angel Reese, F, LSU

The reigning Final Four Most Outstanding Player arrived at Maryland in 2020 as the top-ranked wing in the country. Over the next two years, she played mostly as a post for the Terrapins. Now at LSU, she does a bit of both. Reese’s versatility makes her a player who can fit on any roster, and she’s polished enough to make an immediate impact. Add in her elite rebounding skills, and Reese can expect to hear her name called early on draft night.

4. Olivia Miles, G, Notre Dame

Notre Dame’s point guard is known for her creativity on the court. From facilitating to manufacturing opportunities for herself, it’s hard to predict what Miles will do next. And when it comes to setting up her teammates, there is no one better at understanding tendencies and putting players in positions to score. An injury stopped her from playing in the NCAA Tournament, but I’ve seen enough of Miles to know she’s a future WNBA star.

5. Rickea Jackson, F, Tennessee

Jackson was slated to be a top draft pick this year before deciding to come back to Tennessee for a fifth season. She played her first three years at Mississippi State under three different coaches, so the stability of having coach Kellie Harper for two seasons at Tennessee will be great for Jackson’s development. But even without that, she’s a promising prospect. Jackson is a proven scorer who is strong around the basket and can attack off the bounce. Her 6-2 frame is ideal for the WNBA and will be an asset on defense as well.

Paige Bueckers missed the entire 2022-23 season for UConn after tearing her ACL. (G Fiume/Getty Images)

6. Paige Bueckers, G, UConn

While a healthy Bueckers could be a No. 1 draft pick, her injuries over the last two seasons are cause for concern. Still, Bueckers was named Player of the Year as a freshman for a reason. She’s been pro-ready since she set foot on UConn’s campus. If she can put together a full season without an injury, the guard will be a top pick. And even if she doesn’t, Bueckers is so skilled that WNBA executives will likely take the risk anyway.

7. Aaliyah Edwards, F, UConn

As injuries plagued UConn this season, Edwards proved she can be the centerpiece of a team. No matter who else was on the court, Edwards performed. Like Reese, she was tabbed as a wing coming into college, so she is able to attack off the bounce and defend on the perimeter. Another versatile prospect, Edwards will be a good get for any team.

8. Elizabeth Kitley, C, Virginia Tech

Kitley could have been a first-round draft pick this season if she didn’t elect to come back to Virginia Tech for a fifth year. Kitley has improved every season, winning ACC Player of the Year in both 2022 and 2023. Her body control on both ends of the floor makes her difficult to guard and difficult to score over. At 6-6, she has the ability to extend to the free-throw line, and her shooting stroke can likely be developed beyond the arc.

Kamilla Cardoso has all the tools to thrive in the WNBA. (Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

9. Kamilla Cardoso, C, South Carolina

Cardoso has spent the last two seasons coming off the bench behind this year’s No. 1 pick, Aliyah Boston, but make no mistake, she would be starting on any other team. On several occasions this year, it was Cardoso who made the difference for the Gamecocks when teams tried different defenses to slow them down. She’s 6-7 with good hands, making post-entry passes easy for her teammates. And on the other end of the floor, Cardoso is a skilled shot blocker.

10. Jacy Sheldon, G, Ohio State

Ohio State’s point guard missed most of the year due to injury, but an impressive March Madness improved her draft stock so much that Sheldon could have been a 2023 top-five pick if she hadn’t opted to return for a fifth year. She has the ability to be the best offensive and defensive player on the court in any given game. Sheldon also possesses a toughness that WNBA teams will like.

Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.

Notre Dame basketball is entering the NCAA Tournament as a No. 3 seed, but questions remain about the status of star player Olivia Miles. 

“We’ll know more this week,” Irish coach Niele Ivey said Sunday. “She’s gonna be with the doctors a little bit more this week, but she is progressing.”

Miles injured her knee in her team’s regular-season finale against Louisville on Feb. 26. The win clinched the first ACC title for Notre Dame since 2019, but the sophomore guard has not played since, and the Irish lost handily to the Cardinals in the second round of the conference tournament.

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Still, the Irish will host Southern Utah in the first round of March Madness. And while the status of their leading scorer remains up in the air, the team has not ruled her out for the postseason, NCAA women’s basketball committee chair Lisa Peterson told ESPN.

That contributed to Notre Dame’s No. 3 seed, as the committee operated under the assumption that Miles would play “because we weren’t told any different,” Peterson said.

Per Ivey, “there was no inquiry” from the committee about Miles’ status for the tournament. And Notre Dame is preparing for any eventuality.

“I think we’ve just kind of been preparing for everything, with or without (Miles),” junior forward Maddy Westbeld said. “It’s just one day at a time, but we’re just approaching practice at every angle.”

Once again, the top two teams in the JWS college basketball Top 25 remain intact. South Carolina and Stanford are the teams to beat, but the rest of the rankings got a shake-up this week.

Kansas and Virginia make their first appearances, while Notre Dame jumps two undefeated teams for the No. 3 spot. Let’s evaluate where the top teams stand before the holiday break. You can find our last top-25 rankings here.

1. South Carolina (11-0)

2. Stanford (11-1)

Cameron Brink, Hannah Jump and Haley Jones are one heck of a trio, and they make this Stanford team hard to top. They have three completely different but effective games, all of which were clicking in a 77-70 win over Tennessee on Sunday. Brink had 21 points, 17 rebounds and six blocks to lead the way, while Jones and Jump recorded 19 points each. The Cardinal were down 58-53 heading into the fourth quarter, but the No. 2 squad didn’t panic. Instead, they chipped away at the deficit and closed out the game on a 24-12 run to seal the victory. Maturity will help this team down the stretch, and the win was indicative of their ranking.

3. Notre Dame (9-1)

The AP poll still has Notre Dame at No. 5, but a 63-52 win over Virginia Tech on Sunday cemented my belief that Notre Dame deserves the No. 3 spot. I’d previously considered moving the Fighting Irish over Ohio State and Indiana, and this week’s win convinced me — strangely enough because Notre Dame looked flat-out bad for most of the contest. Even at its worst, Notre Dame showed it is still good enough to beat another top-10 opponent. In crunch time, the Irish didn’t let their previous mistakes define the game. Olivia Miles had a near triple-double (16 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists), and Notre Dame ended the game on a 23-9 run to secure the win.

4. Ohio State (11-0)

5. Indiana (11-0)

6. UConn (8-2)

7. North Carolina (9-1)

8. NC State (11-1)

9. Virginia Tech (10-1)

10. Utah (10-0)

The Utes have won in a lot of different ways this season, from blowouts to two-point victories. In their one win over a ranked opponent on Nov. 16, they scored a whopping 124 points against Oklahoma and showed how dangerous this team can be. Offensively, they average 93 points per game with a roster full of scorers. Alissa Pili leads the team with 20.7 points per game, followed by Gianna Knnepkens and Jenna Johnson with 14.4 and 12.6, respectively. Then, Kennedy McQueen and Issy Palmer each average 10 points per game, while Teya Sidberry and Dasia Young come in at just under seven. That all adds up to a balanced squad that’s hard to beat — and fun to watch.

11. UCLA (11-1)

12. Iowa (9-3)

13. Iowa State (8-2)

14. Arkansas (13-0)

The Razorbacks haven’t played the toughest schedule, but an undefeated record and wins over Kansas State and Creighton are enough to draw attention. The bottom half of these rankings are a mess, with a lot of solid teams in consideration. Arkansas (No. 17 in the AP Poll) slides into my top 15 after going on the road Saturday and beating Creighton. The Razorbacks led for most of the contest and weathered every Creighton run. Samara Spencer led the way with 26 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the 3-point line, and UConn transfer Saylor Poffenbarger recorded a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Arkansas has two tough upcoming matchups against AP No. 16 Oregon and No. 10 LSU.

15. Maryland (9-3)

16. LSU (12-0)

17. Oregon (9-1)

18. Kansas (10-0)

A 77-50 victory over then-No. 12 Arizona on Dec. 8 thrust Kansas into the rankings, but there is a lot to like about this Kansas team aside from the upset win. The Jayhawks have one of the most cohesive offenses in the country. They run everything through center Taiyanna Jackson but don’t discriminate when it comes to making the extra pass and taking the best available shot. They understand how to use their spacing and lanes to attack the hoop, which makes for a smooth offense with a lot of contributors. And when they need a basket, the Jayhawks still have a go-to scorer in Jackson. That’s the perfect recipe for offensive success.

19. Gonzaga (11-2)

20. Michigan (10-1)

21. Creighton (8-2)

The Bluejays have wins over South Dakota State, Nebraska and Villanova — all of whom were ranked when they played — and another over a solid Drake team. But with losses to AP No. 25 St. John’s and No. 21 Arkansas, it’s hard to know what to make of this squad. They have all the tools for another deep run in the NCAA Tournament, but right now they only seem to show up part of the time. Their next two games are against Stanford and UConn, which should provide a much clearer picture.

22. Arizona (9-1)

The Wildcats have a lot to work out. They shot well in a 75-54 win over Baylor on Saturday (47.5 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc), but a lot of that had to do with the Bears — who are not a top-25 team in my mind — not defending the ball well. Arizona had open shots and they knocked them down, but there wasn’t a lot of flow to the offense as players still appear to be figuring out their roles.

I was, however, more impressed with their defense. The Wildcats held Baylor to 32.8 percent shooting from the field and 25.1 percent from long range, while forcing 19 turnovers. They never allowed Baylor to get comfortable, and their defense led to 18 fast-break points. Running the floor after creating turnovers is a clear strength of this team. Now, they have to find more rhythm in the halfcourt.

23. Oklahoma (9-1)

24. Marquette (9-2)

25. Virginia (12-0)

The last spot on this list is always a toss-up for me. This week, I considered St. John’s, Villanova, Tennessee, Baylor and Kansas State, but the undefeated Cavaliers have earned the spot thanks to consistent performances. Minnesota and Penn State have been their toughest opponents so far, but UVA will have the chance to prove itself in a tough ACC slate against teams like Virginia Tech, NC State, North Carolina and Notre Dame. I don’t expect UVA to stay undefeated, but they are capable of an upset or two.

Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.

Olivia Miles dominated for No. 7 Notre Dame women’s basketball in Sunday’s 74-60 win against No. 3 UConn.

And for the sophomore guard, the game represented not just a marquee win but a symbol of her growth through the first month of the season.

Always a physical presence, even at 5-foot-10, she has learned to balance her aggressive play with composure as she leads the Irish on the floor.

In a mid-November win against Northwestern, Miles became the fourth player ejected from the contest. She received two technical fouls, the first came when she stepped into a fray between Irish forward Natalija Marshall and Wildcats forward Paige Mott, and the second came after she got into a verbal sparring match with Wildcats guard Hailey Weaver.

“Just being the type of player that I am, I feel like refs just have an extra eye on me,” Miles said Sunday.

That experience helped her against UConn, as she took care “to keep my head better than Northwestern, obviously, and stay in the game,” she said.

The sophomore said, conversely, she was too “timid” in a loss to Maryland last Thursday, so she needed to find her equilibrium against the Huskies.

“I felt pretty timid in the Maryland game,” Miles said. “I was in my head. So the focus of this game was just to be aggressive, play my game. I just watched film and got back in the game and just stuck to what I knew how to do well and I did that today and feel like that’s why I was successful.”

She found the winning formula, finishing with 21 points on 10-for-18 shooting, plus eight rebounds and four assists.

Her performance came in front of Dallas Wings guard Arike Ogunbowale, who starred for Notre Dame herself when the team won the national championship in 2018.

The victory against UConn marks the first out-of-conference top-three win for coach Niele Ivey at Notre Dame, as well as the first loss of the season for UConn.

Tempers boiled over during Notre Dame’s 92-58 win Wednesday against Northwestern in women’s college basketball.

While the Irish led the entire game, the Wildcats kept the score close through much of the first half on their home court in Evanston, Illinois.

By the final minutes of the half, though, Notre Dame had built a double-digit lead, and a tie-up between Irish forward Natalija Marshall and Wildcats forward Paige Mott became heated.

Marshall and Mott both received technicals, as did Notre Dame guard Olivia Miles, who stepped into the fray, Bally Sports’ Maggie Hendricks reported. Three Northwestern players were ejected for coming off the bench during the sequence, including Caileigh Walsh, who led the Wildcats with seven points at the time.

Late in the third quarter, Miles received her second technical and was ejected from the game herself after a verbal sparring match with Northwestern guard Hailey Weaver, Hendricks reported.

Still, even though she was ejected before the final frame, Miles finished second in scoring in the game with 21 points. She also added six rebounds and two assists.

No Northwestern player finished in the double digits in points scored.

The only thing more difficult than listing all the superlatives for Notre Dame’s Olivia Miles might be guarding her. The rising sophomore is coming off of a freshman season in which she led the Irish back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2019 and within a minute of the Elite Eight.

Big things are undoubtedly in store for Miles after she finished second in the country in assists per game with 7.4 and recorded a triple-double in her first NCAA Tournament game. She also received votes for the AP’s preseason All-America team. With the 5-foot-10 guard orchestrating the offense, Notre Dame enters the season ranked No. 9 in the AP Poll.

Just Women’s Sports’ Calvin Wetzel sat down with Miles to break down film from 2021-22 and talk about what she learned as she heads into a new season with high expectations.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

CW: Your team runs this play a lot of times late in the clock, where you make this little hand signal. It’s basically a ghost screen pick-and-pop … What can you tell me about this play?

OM: This is one of our late shot-clock plays. It’s a very quick hitter. It’s actually pretty hard to guard when you get two shooters or a dynamic guard and a shooter that come off the brush screen because it just confuses the defense since it’s not exactly a screen. They’re usually wide open or I take it to the basket, so it really depends. It’s just a good quick hitter play. The Warriors run it a lot actually, where they’ll have two guards coming off. It’s just very hard to guard the drive and the three at the same time.

CW: Here, I like this play because you have Maddy [Westbeld] setting the screen and it looks like the opponent is jamming her. The defender can’t stay too far off of Maddy because she’s a shooter, so that lets you get downhill. When you have those shooters setting screens for you, how much does that help you?

OM: It’s so hard to guard when you have so many things to worry about. Having Sonia [Citron], having Dara [Mabrey], having Maddy, and obviously we had Sam [Brunelle] in our offense and those kind of weapons around me — I can see where the defense is rotating, like I did there, and I knew they were gonna come on Maya because she was having a good game I remember. So it’s easy to read when you have so many great shooters around you and they can’t really guard it.

CW: On this one, Miami gets switched and tries to scram switch out of it at the end, but it’s too late. Maddy has a smaller player on her, and it looks like you’re aware of that from the start. You don’t even have the ball yet, but it looks to me like you want to get the ball into Maddy and exploit that mismatch. When you see a switch like that, is that your mindset, where you’re hunting to get the ball into the mismatch, and if it’s not there, to come off some other action to find it open?

OM: We practice mismatches all the time — I feel like that’s one of our points of emphasis that we work on all the time in practice because we have bigger guards like Maddy who do get switched onto guards a lot. It all just stems from the way we screen and the way people have to guard us. Oftentimes people will switch onto Maddy on the pop or on the rolls, so our coach really emphasizes trying to get the ball inside. In that play, they switched a little late so it was kind of easy to see, but also Maddy’s just such a big target that I can see her out of my peripheral vision and whatnot. She’s just always there and in a great position to get the ball.

I feel like those kinds of plays I make up on the fly. I’m not really thinking about it too heavily, but usually I can identify the mismatch right away and we look to hit that and exploit that immediately.

CW: I have a few clips of you attacking hedges. Are you reading something when they hedge on whether to get downhill around it, hit the roller, split it, whatever? Or is it more like, you’ve been playing basketball so long you have that feel where you don’t even really need to think about it?

OM: l think most of what I try to do kind of happens on the fly, but a lot of it comes from watching film and watching the other team and their tendencies around the way they hedge. Usually I know with bigger posts, I can make my way around. What I’ve noticed with the more athletic posts is they like to try and come out a bit too high, so that’s when I like to split. So it’s all personnel, and it’s all knowing who can do what and who’s guarding you in that moment. I would say it’s, like, 70 percent me watching film and then 30 percent me making it up and just taking what the defense gives me in the game.

CW: So, you watch film beforehand and know some of their tendencies so you’re mentally prepared for a lot of that heading into the game?

OM: Yeah. Me and my position coach, we do film sessions just the two of us to break down what I’m gonna get and the areas that I can score in and work on that in practice. We drill out a lot of different personnel and playing to that with our advantages. What big can do what? Who’s good at this and that? So I feel like I’m prepared when it comes to the actual game.

CW: This one in particular I love. So, you have Mabrey cutting. It looks like she sees her defender here not recognizing her. Her defender’s focused on you mostly. And then she cuts and you see that. Obviously you’re a great ball handler and passer — you draw a lot of attention. Do you feel like you and your teammates have that chemistry where, when one of their defenders gets caught ball watching, you can make eye contact or they can make that back cut and know you’ll find them?

OM: Yeah, that play was complete luck. I honestly did not know what I was gonna do with the ball, and then I saw her and I was like, “Thank the lord.” But I feel like a lot of our team, we have such great chemistry with each other. And another point of emphasis for our coach is to just keep moving. Keep moving regardless of how much time is left on the clock. Sonia does a really, really good job of that. Her and I connect on so many backdoors and so many sneak plays like that. And Dara did a good job here.

But I feel like, to answer your question, our team — they’ve kind of gotten used to the way I play and the things that I see, and those cuts in particular are passes that I like to throw a lot, so they’re getting used to cutting like that.

CW: This one is an absolute dime. You hit Maya on the fast break, and I don’t know how that pass gets through. Watching this back, I paused it right here when you first start making the pass, and I’m counting up one, two, three, four, five red jerseys. And then there’s Maya. It doesn’t seem open, but you sneak in the pass an inch above the defender’s fingertips. What gives you the confidence to be able to make a pass like that?

OM: I mean, a lot of times it goes wrong, so I definitely kind of question myself at points. But at the end of the day, I feel like I know … and at this point in the season, I learned who I could trust and count on to catch those passes. And I feel like Maya, I knew her body, I knew her athleticism, I knew her speed, I knew she was gonna be able to rise up and get that one. And she was also looking at me like she wanted it, so I was like, “Why the heck not? Let me just heave it downcourt.”

But I feel like knowing personnel is super important, and if it were a different one of my teammates, I probably wouldn’t have thrown it. But I was like, “You know what, I’m just gonna give it a go. Why not?” It could either be a really, really good layup, or a turnover. It’s high risk, high reward.

CW: People talk about your offense all the time, but I feel like something you don’t get as much credit for is that you have good hands on defense. So on this one, you wait a little bit for the player to turn and then you time it up perfectly so you get your hands in there on the dribble without fouling. Is that another thing where you know their tendencies from film? Or do you work on timing those up and swooping in at the right moment? Or is all of that natural?

OM: Part of it is definitely tendencies — I like learning what other people are gonna do. I don’t study bigs that much; I more so study guard tendencies. But I know that, especially when we’re in zone, a lot of the bigs like to turn their back so it’s easy to get those pluck steals really quick or catch them off guard when they turn around. I feel like I’ve always had good reflexes and good hand speed, and that’s helped me get quite a few steals. I definitely could be a little better — I’m aiming for more steals this year — but I feel like that’s just something that I’ve always had. I know the timing and I’ve been playing basketball long enough to know what people like to do, so it’s easy for me to predict in certain situations where I can get the ball. Just scanning the floor, similarly to offense.

CW: I had one more question for you, unrelated to the clips. Did the extra spring semester you got for COVID-19 eligibility help you prepare for the game at the Division I level?

OM: It definitely helped me prepare more. I obviously didn’t really get that many minutes on the floor like I did this past season, but I feel like just knowing the ins and outs, starting to get that knowledge of the game, knowledge of our playbook, of our teammates a little earlier helped me and my teammates adjust to each other better. That year definitely helped me mature mentally, physically, emotionally in aspects of the game. I came in the first game [last season] more confident than another freshman who might have been a little nervous for their first game. So, while I do still get nervous and I do still get worked up for games, I feel like having that intro with no pressure on me, and just using that as a learning experience, helped me to settle my nerves and be more familiar with our playbook, our coach, and just play the game better, honestly.

CW: Are you able to manage those nerves better now? Have you learned some strategies on that?

OM: Yeah, I mean I’m still working on it, but it’s definitely something that has progressed. I’ve found that when I’m nervous, I’ve just told myself that it’s a good thing because I care and I wanna do well. And I turn those feelings into more of an excited feeling so I can just convince my brain that we’re on the biggest stage, I’m having fun, it’s just a sport. At the end of the day, I’m still the person that I am and still have the people around me that I love, so whatever happens on the court happens on the court. I’ve just been working on my mindset a lot, and I feel like that’s helped me prepare before games. And even more so this year, I hope it helps me play on a higher level than I did last year.

Calvin Wetzel is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports, covering basketball and betting. He also contributes to Her Hoop Stats, CBS SportsLine and FiveThirtyEight. Follow him on Twitter at @cwetzel31.

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Niele Ivey doesn’t like to waste time.

It took her four days after being named the new head coach of Notre Dame women’s basketball in August 2020 to land two of the top recruits in the nation. Those freshmen, guards Olivia Miles and Sonia Citron, have quickly evolved into two of the top scorers and playmakers on the roster.

Then it took her one season to lead Notre Dame back to the Sweet 16, a place the program has become familiar with after two championships and four runner-up finishes under Muffet McGraw, Ivey’s former coach and predecessor.

And after Notre Dame’s heartbreaking 66-63 loss to NC State in the Sweet 16 on Saturday, Ivey said it wouldn’t take long for her to turn the page and begin preparing for next season.

“I’m excited to get back to work. Maybe I’ll take 24 hours off, and then I’m going to start watching film and get back to work because that’s what it is. This is a grind,” she said.

For nearly three quarters on Saturday, Notre Dame played like it didn’t want to waste any time, either. After going down 16-12 in the first quarter, Miles led the Fighting Irish on a 24-10 run in the second, scoring eight of her team-high 21 points during that stretch.

Notre Dame maintained its lead all the way into the fourth quarter, not letting NC State get within more than four points for nearly 15 minutes. Citron and Maddy Westbeld, the other two underclassmen in Notre Dame’s starting lineup, were key offensive catalysts, combining for 21 points and 13 steals in the game.

Notre Dame’s offense was so potent, five days after scoring 108 points in their win over Oklahoma, that NC State coach Wes Moore switched things up at the start of the fourth quarter. The Wolfpack started pressing Notre Dame higher up the floor, forcing Miles as the ball-handler into making tough decisions.

From there, NC State methodically clawed its way back into the game, exploiting Notre Dame’s 16 turnovers for 22 total points. Raina Perez sealed the comeback with under 30 seconds to go, stripping Dara Mabrey of the ball at halfcourt and hitting the layup at the other end to put NC State up 64-63. She then closed out the win with two made free throws.

“I could have done a way better job of getting my team more organized,” Miles said after the game. “I was kind of quiet because I was trying to figure it out for myself, figure out the spots that I can go and get the ball up the floor. That caused some of my team to create turnovers, and I take the blame for that.”

Ivey spoke before practice on Friday about Miles’ leadership being the next step in her career evolution. Being vocal isn’t something that comes naturally to the freshman, so she’s had to push herself into uncomfortable situations to help her team.

“Coach Ivey is a national champion point guard, so she’s seen the worst of it, and she knows and she helps me,” Miles said.

A game like Saturday’s, though demoralizing for the way it ended, only strengthens that bond between a coach and her star player.

From now until the start of preseason next fall, Ivey can mull over Miles’ performance and the fact her team was 30 seconds away from upsetting No. 1 seed NC State and advancing to the Elite Eight. But she won’t be thinking about it that way.

Niele Ivey doesn’t have time to dwell on the past when her present and future are so bright.

“I was told, oh, you’re going to need three to four years. Well, I needed one,” Ivey said. “I’m hoping that what we showed as a program and as a team, I hope that attracts even more talented players to want to play for this family.”

Hannah Withiam is the Managing Editor at Just Women’s Sports. She previously served as an editor at The Athletic and a reporter at the New York Post. Follow her on Twitter @HannahWithiam.