Coach Yo guided her team to a monstrous season this year, finishing 23-9 (10-6). The Rebels beat three ranked teams and made the NCAA tournament before losing to a Sweet 16-bound South Dakota (with two players who recently declared for the WNBA). While certainly fans hoped to go further in the tournament, it’s impossible to view the team’s first tournament berth since 2007 as anything but a huge success.
Now comes the tricky part.
Shakira Austin, point guard Lashonda Monk, point guard Mimi Reid, shooting guard Donetta Johnson, and centers Andeija Puckett and Iyanla Kitchens have all graduated. Shooting guards Tiya Douglas and Jacorriah Bracey, along with power forward Caitlin McGee, have entered the transfer portal.
The Rebels currently have six scholarship players on roster with seven spots open. Yo only signed one high schooler, top 100 stretch-four Ayanna Thompson, which means she’s looking for six transfers to bolster the roster. It’s a tall task, but she’s trying to take the Lane Kiffin approach to roster management.
While I don’t have insider information on who she’s targeting, I’ve tried to piece together a list of who she should go after, among those who are actual possibilities. By my estimate, she needs to find 1-2 stars in the portal along with a couple of bigs, a point guard, and some three point threats. Good players are entering the portal every day, so now’s the time the staff is working hard.
SG Aijah Blackwell - Missouri
Blackwell averaged 15.4 points and 13 rebounds per game for a Missouri team that struggled to produce much outside of her. She finished the season with twenty double-doubles, and the Tigers somehow missed the tournament. Blackwell shot 34% from behind the arc this season and has two years of eligibility remaining. Coach Yo seems to be actively pursuing her, having recently liked a few of her posts on twitter.
PF Dre’una Edwards - Kentucky
Edwards averaged 16.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. She also shot 34% from outside and has two years of eligibility remaining. While Ole Miss is relatively set at power forward (with former SEC freshman of the year Madison Scott at the position), Edwards has some positional versatility that would make her incredibly valuable in Oxford.
The Cavinder twins - Fresno State
Haley and Hanna Cavinder are both point guards who are successful on and off the court. At Fresno, they averaged 19.8 and 14.5 points per game, respectively. Haley also averaged 9.4 rebounds per game, which is insane, given her 5’6” frame. Both are effective from long range as well. On top of that, they’re darlings of the NIL era, having signed lucrative deals with Boost Mobile, Sleeper, Champs Sports, and the WWE (among many others). They’ve appeared on a billboard in Times Square. Signing the duo would bring incredible attention to a program in need of it.
Chrislyn Carr - Syracuse
Carr is a dynamic point guard who hit 37% of her threes as a senior at Syracuse on her way to averaging 14.2 points. She’s experienced and would be a very nice short-term solution to the position. Coach Yo follows her on Twitter.
KK Deans - West Virginia
Deans is another major option for the future of the point guard position. She shot 32% from three last season (averaging 14.5 ppg overall) and is a capable passer. Coach Yo follows her on Twitter.
Myah Taylor - Mississippi State
A pass-first guard, Taylor has ben an instrumental player the past three years at State. The Olive Branch native isn’t a great shooter but could be a good piece to the puzzle if this team can find scoring elsewhere.
Rita Igbokwe - Pitt
Igbokwe is a 6’4” center who averaged 2.3 blocks per game last season with 6.1 points and 7.4 rebounds as well. The Georgia native has two years of eligibility remaining. Coach Yo follows her on Twitter.
Trinitee Jackson - Arkansas State
Jackson is a 6’3” center out of Dallas who was offensively dominant last season. She averaged 11.3 points per game, primarily on the back of 3.8 offensive rebounds per game (8.3 total). She only recorded one block on the year, so that may not be the direction Yo pursues, but there are worse outcomes than ending up with Jackson on the roster.
Olivia Owens - Kentucky
The 6’4” center was a five-star out of high school three years ago. her production in college hasn’t matched that at all (only averaging 13 minutes per game last season), but there’s still potential there, especially if she’s willing to be a backup.
3 Point Shooters
Brinae Alexander - Vanderbilt
The Murfreesboro native connected on 37% of her threes last season on the way to averaging 15 points per game for the Commodores. At 5’10” she’s tall enough to not be a liability defensively. In fact, she averaged 2 steals per game, already playing in the SEC.
Brynna Maxwell - Utah
Maxwell is a true three-point specialist, shooting 38% from three and 39% overall last season. She likely wouldn’t be an option as a starter, but having her come off the bench would be a real boon to the team.