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Senior Watch: Midseason Update

With the 2016-17 NCAA women’s basketball season reaching its midpoint, two organizations that award national player of the year honors (Wooden Award and Ann Meyers Drysdale Award) released their midseason watch list.

In this edition of the Senior Watch, we take a closer look at the nine seniors that appear on both lists. This includes some familiar names that we have highlighted in past editions of the Senior Watch and some new names to focus on over the second half of the season.

Alaina Coates, South Carolina

Coates finished one point shy (9 points, 12 rebounds) of her fifth straight double-double as South Carolina defeated Mississippi State in a top five showdown on Monday night. The senior center is averaging 14.4 points and 10.9 rebounds for the 17-1 Gamecocks that have their eyes set on a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Nia Coffey, Northwestern

Coffey is coming off an uncharacteristic off night in Northwestern’s loss to Michigan on Wednesday as the senior forward finished with 16 points on 6-of-20 (30%) shooting to go with 7 rebounds and 7 turnovers. The loss hurts the buzz the team was making in cracking the Top 25 polls, but also emphasizes Coffey’s importance to this team on a nightly basis. She leads her team in both scoring (19.4) and rebounding (11.1) and ranks fourth and second, respectively, in the Big Ten.

Nina Davis, Baylor

Davis picked up Big 12 Player of the Week honors on Monday after leading the No. 2 ranked Baylor Bears to a pair of wins last week. However, she got off to a slow start this week with just 4 points on 1-of-5 and 9 rebounds in Wednesday’s win over Kansas State. Luckily, the Lady Bears didn’t need much from their senior forward as they rolled past the No. 25 Wildcats on the road.

Brionna Jones, Maryland

“That Brionna Jones, she’s a monster.” That high praise comes from Rutgers head coach and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer C. Vivian Stringer after Jones put together another double-double (11 points and 13 rebounds) in Maryland’s 80-71 win over the Scarlett Knights on Sunday. Rutgers actually held Jones far below her season scoring average (19.4 overall, 22.6 in the conference play), but she was efficient (5-8 FG) with her shot, dominant on the glass and an intimidating presence in the paint (2 blocks).

Erica McCall, Stanford

In Stanford’s latest win over Arizona State, senior forward Erica McCall had 18 points, 9 rebounds and one emphatic block.

Those numbers are right on par with what she has done all season long for the 10th ranked Cardinal as she looks to lead Stanford back to the Final Four. From there it will be about taking the next step in her basketball career and entering the WNBA Draft, where she hopes to follow in the footsteps of her sister, Phoenix’s DeWanna Bonner.

Alexis Peterson, Syracuse

The senior guard had 24 points and 7 assists as Syracuse upset No. 14 ranked Miami on Sunday. In fact, Peterson and her backcourt mate (and fellow senior) Brittney Sykes combined to score 53 points to outscore the Hurricanes by themselves in the Orange’s 81-48 victory. Peterson ranks third in the nation in scoring (24.3 points per game) and ninth in assists (7.0 per game). She has the ability to score on her own, set up her teammates, stretch the floor with 3-point range (2.7 3s per game on 37.3% shooting) and defend (her 3.1 steals rank 17th in the nation), which make her one of this year’s top guard prospects.

Kelsey Plum, Washington

We’ll let NBA MVP candidate James Harden provide this week’s update on the scoring machine from Washington who just joined the 3,000 point club:

“Crafty, left-handed, can shoot the three, make plays for her teammates… you don’t see that a lot, especially in women’s basketball,” Harden told “I had to give her a shoutout and show her that I’m watching and I appreciate the left-hand craftiness.”

Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, Maryland

Walker-Kimbrough continues to do a bit of everything for the No. 3 ranked Terrapins. The senior guard stuffs the stat sheet with 17.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.6 3-pointers on 41.0 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Maryland coach Brenda Frese has praised Walker-Kimbrough’s relentless work to improve her game day in and day out and that drive is evident in Walker-Kimbrough’s own words.

Sydney Wiese, Oregon State

Whichever WNBA team drafts Sydney Wiese this April, their social media manager better get used to posting flame emojis to track the sharpshooter’s 3-pointers on a nightly basis. The senior guard is the Pac-12’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made and is shooting 48.3 percent from beyond the arc this season, which ranks third in the nation. Plus, it’s not like she’s just sitting in the corner waiting for catch and shoot opportunities. No, she can cross you up and drain the three off the bounce as well. See below for exhibit A.

Tune In On Sunday

Sunday features double-headers on both ESPN2 and ESPNU that highlight many of the top prospects discussed in this week’s Senior Watch.

  • Virginia vs. #8 Notre Dame: 9:00 AM PT, ESPNU
  • Iowa vs. #3 Maryland: 11:00 AM PT, ESPN2
  • Oregon vs. #11 Oregon State: 11:00 AM PT, ESPNU
  • #20 Oklahoma vs. #2 Baylor: 3:30 PM PT, ESPN2