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Senior Watch: Frontcourt Focus

After taking a closer look at the top backcourt prospects in our last Senior Watch, today we focus on the frontcourt and some of the top forwards and centers set to enter the WNBA this April. Each of the five prospects below is averaging a double-double during her senior campaign.

Alaina Coates, C, South Carolina

Coates and the No. 5-ranked Gamecocks just won their fourth straight SEC title and are set to open postseason play in the SEC Tournament on Friday. Whether or not Coates will be available Friday is a question as she re-injured her right ankle late in the regular-season finale against Kentucky. She missed practice on Wednesday and is listed as “day to day.” Before she went down with the injury, Coates capped off senior day with 13 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and this emphatic block in her final regular season game.

Coates has posted a team-high 15 double-doubles this season and is averaging a double-double with 13.4 points and 11.1 rebounds (7th in the NCAA) for the second straight season. She is also shooting a career-best 67.0% from the field, which ranks 3rd in the NCAA this season.

Nia Coffey, F, Northwestern

Another senior big averaging a double-double this season is Northwestern’s Nia Coffey, who enters conference tournament play averaging 19.5 points (23rd in NCAA) and a career-best 10.6 rebounds (16th in NCAA). The 6-foot-1 lefty can score on the block, from mid-range and beyond the arc (23 treys in 27 games this season, 31% career 3-point shooter).

She became just the fifth women’s basketball player in Big Ten history to score 2,000 points and collect 1,000 rebounds in her career, joining former WNBA first-round picks Jantel Lavender (2007-11) and Jessica Davenport (2003-07), second-round pick Jenna Smith (Illinois, 2007-10) and Laura Coenen (1981-85).

Brionna Jones, C, Maryland

In her final regular season home game, Brionna Jones posted 24 points and 14 rebounds as the No. 2-ranked Terps defeated Minnesota, 93-60, to clinch a share of their third straight Big Ten title (co-champions with Ohio State at 15-1 in conference play). Immediately following the game, Jones and fellow senior Shatori Walker-Kimbrough had their jerseys raised to the rafters of the Xfinity Center.

Jones and Walker-Kimbrough, who went 64-5 (.928) during their four years in College Park, will look to lead the Terrapins back to the Final Four after last year’s second-round exit as they continue to pursue Maryland’s first NCAA title since 2006. Jones has been dominant all season long, averaging 19.3 points (26th in NCAA), 10.7 rebounds (13th in NCAA) and an NCAA-high 69% shooting.

Evelyn Ahkator, C, Kentucky

Evelyn Akhator had a special senior night at Memorial Coliseum last week as she posted 27 points and 16 rebounds — her 15th double-double of the season — to lead the Wildcats to an upset win in overtime over No. 3-ranked Mississippi State.

The 6-foot-3 forward from Lagos, Nigeria played only two seasons at Kentucky, but has left her mark in Lexington. Her 28 career double-doubles ranks second in the program’s history, while her rebounding ranks 20th in the NCAA (10.5 rpg) and her shooting percentage ranks 15th (59.2%). While Akhator and the Wildcats were not able to upset No. 7 South Carolina in their regular season finale, they enter the SEC Tournament as the No. 4 seed and look to return to the NCAA Tournament, where they advance to the Sweet 16 a year ago.

Chantel Osahor, F/C, Washington

While Kelsey Plum has received most of the attention in Seattle this season — and rightfully so for the new NCAA all-time scoring leader — Chantel Osahor has put together an impressive season of her own. The 6-foot-2 forward/center from Phoenix is a double-double machine. She leads the NCAA with 26 double-doubles (in 30 games) her 14.9 rebounds per game also leads the country. Her most impressive double-double of the season came against Washington State on Jan. 22, as she posted 20 points and 30 rebounds to go with 2 assists and 2 steals.

While she can dominate in the paint, her game goes well beyond that of a traditional big. She can catch it on the perimeter and ether drain the three (1.5 per game on 38.6% shooting) or find cutters with precision passes for layups (4.1 assists is second on the team).