Jasmine Simmons Verbally Commits To Oregon State

The number of players from New South Wales playing in the Pac-12 Conference is set to increase with Jasmine Simmons’ announcement of her verbal commitment to join Oregon State in 2018. With Sara Anastasieska set to commence playing at California in 2017 and Danijela Milisic continuing at USC, the strongest conference in women’s college basketball will soon feature three players from NSW as part of an Australian contingent that will stretch across no less than seven of the conference’s twelve schools.

Hailing from the town of Gol Gol on the banks of the Murray, just a stone’s throw from Mildura, Simmons has long been earmarked as one of NSW basketball’s brightest prospects. The NSW Country star’s obvious talent was on show at the 2016 FIBA Under 17 World Championship, where Simmons led the Australian team to a gold medal. The Sapphires went undefeated throughout the competition, and also handed the much-vaunted United States team its first loss in the history of the tournament in the semi-finals.

Simmons averaged 11 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game in that tournament to earn a nomination as one of Australia’s three players in the tournament’s all-star five alongside Monique Conti and Ezi Magbegor. Simmons capped her outstanding week in Spain with a dominant 14 point, 12 rebound performance in the final as the Sapphires routed Italy 62-38 to bring the gold medal back to Australia. Simmons also dished out six assists in the Sapphires’ 73-60 semi-final win over the United States. Exhibiting a range of skills, Simmons’ vision, athleticism, and ability to get to the basket were on show throughout the tournament.

Simmons will be joining Oregon State at an exciting time in the program’s history. Coach Scott Rueck has turned the Beavers from one of the bottom-feeders in the Pac-12 to a national powerhouse, with the team reaching the Final Four in 2016 and the Sweet Sixteen in 2017. The list of outstanding players produced by Oregon State is growing as well, with WNBA players Sydney Wiese, Jamie Weisner, and Ruth Hamblin all coming through the program in recent years. In recent weeks, Rueck has captured the commitment of Maryland freshman star Destiny Slocum, who chose to transfer despite an outstanding freshman season with the Terrapins. Slocum will commence playing for Oregon State in 2018, and the idea of Slocum and Simmons linking up in their first year with the program is certainly an exciting one.

2017 Division I College Season Wrap

The 2016/17 NCAA Division I season saw a number of players from New South Wales take the court, with a raft of state and national representatives making a name for themselves in the United States. Despite missing out on NCAA Tournament spots, a number of players had outstanding seasons. Meanwhile, others had solid freshman campaigns which will set them up for the remainder of their college careers.

Lauren Calver

Freshman | Forward | Houston Baptist | Illawarra

Despite winning just six games this season, Lauren Calver has plenty to look forward to after a solid first season in college basketball. The freshman earned 14 starts in her opening campaign, and duly delivered time and again. In just her second game, Houston Baptist came up against powerhouse Texas. Despite going down 98-46, Calver finished with 11 points, and followed this up with 13 points against Rice the very next game. Four more double figure efforts followed throughout the season, including 14 points in an upset win over McNeese State in the team’s final regular season game.

Abi Curtin

Freshman | Forward | Denver | Hornsby

It was a tough year for Denver, who finished the season with just 6 wins from 30 games, but there were positives that came out of a freshman class that saw five first year players earn multiple starts. One of these players was Hornsby’s Abi Curtin, who started 6 of her 22 games this season. Curtin’s rebounding efforts were perhaps her shining light. Despite limited minutes, her 48 rebounds came at a rate of 9.1 per 40 minutes played. In a team that will have to improve its rebounding next year – Denver ranked 284th in rebound margin this season – Curtin’s ability on the glass could be crucial to the team.

Alex Delaney

Junior | Forward | St. Francis (NY) | Comets

In a young St. Francis team that needed an extra leader this season, Alex Delaney was the player that stepped up alongside the seniors to provide the team with direction. The junior improved her scoring to break the 10 point barrier for the first time, averaging 10.4 points per game. Delaney also improved her rebounding from 3.2 to 5.2 boards per contest. The junior’s ability to step up for her team was on show regularly, but never more so than in the team’s must-win game against Mount St. Mary’s. Requiring a victory to reach the Northeast Conference tournament, Delaney shot 6-10 from the field on her way to 18 points and also dished out 7 assists in a 71-55 win after the previous match between the two teams had ended 62-44 in their opponents’ favour.

Jasmine Forcadilla

Freshman | Guard | Saint Mary’s | Central Coast

Named to the West Coast Conference All-Freshman team, conference honours were reward for a solid season that gives Forcadilla a platform to build from in her three remaining years at college. Averaging 13 minutes per game off the bench, the freshman hit double figures twice and showed quite the penchant for getting to the line. More than one third of Forcadilla’s 94 points for the season came from the charity stripe, where she shot 72% for the season. Forcadilla played more minutes this season than all bar one of Saint Mary’s returning guards, so there should be increased opportunities come Jasmine’s sophomore year.

Megan Johnson

Freshman | Forward | Texas-Rio Grande Valley | Newcastle

Texas-Rio Grande Valley, or UTRGV as they are more widely known, are out to prove they are a team on the rise and freshman Megan Johnson fit the bill perfectly for the Vaqueros this season. Of the four players to feature in every game this season, Johnson was the only freshman on the UTRGV roster, and earned nine starts in the process. Offered token minutes off the bench early, Johnson quickly proved her prowess with an 11 point, 8 rebound effort against nationally ranked Oklahoma in what was an otherwise tough evening in a 33 point loss. Johnson tacked on three more double figure scoring efforts late in the season to average 4 points and 4 assists per game in her first campaign.

Anais Kirvan

Senior | Forward | Fresno State | Comets

2015/16 may have been disappointing for Kirvan, but her senior year saw vast improvement in both playing time and production for Fresno State. One of four players to feature in 32 of the team’s 33 games this season, the senior increased her total playing time from 63 minutes to 330 minutes, and with that increase in playing time came an explosion in her other stats. Tripling her per game scoring and doubling her per game rebounding, Kirvan even earned a solitary start. Missing out on a WNIT bid, Fresno State reportedly turned down an offer to play in the third-level WBI tournament meaning that Kirvan’s college career unfortunately ended with a loss in the Mountain West championship game.

Elizajane Loader

Freshman | Guard | Portland State | Hornsby

A late addition to the Portland State side, Loader was cleared to play in mid-December and played her first game for the Vikings just after Christmas. Despite being in and out of the side throughout the year, the freshman saw playing time in 13 games and was even afforded three starts in a shortened first season in college. Coming in late is never easy for a player, and with a full preparation under her belt before next season, Loader will surely have far more opportunity to showcase her skills in 2017/18.

Danijela Milisic

Freshman | Forward | Southern California | Hills

Despite a lean year in terms of minutes for Milisic, it wasn’t all bad news for the freshman. Featuring in twenty games this year, Milisic was even afforded a couple of starts midway through the season as injuries conspired to leave a hole in the USC frontcourt. Although Milisic only averaged six minutes or so a game, those starting berths show that she has a place in the squad, and with a new coach coming in following the resignation of USC and WNBA legend Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, there may be more opportunities next season.

Vanessa Panousis

Senior | Guard | Virginia Tech | Comets

Despite not reaching the lofty heights achieved in her first two seasons at Virginia Tech, Panousis rebounded slightly from a relatively lean 2015/16 to improve her scoring numbers from 8.6 to 9.1 points per game. This was despite the senior playing her few minutes per contest of any of her four college seasons. Panousis’ top performance this year possibly came at Auburn, where a 20 point effort helped Virginia Tech keep an unbeaten start to the season alive in a 92-87 overtime win. That winning streak would extend to 16 games before the conference season well and truly stopped the Hokies in their tracks. Panousis went 9 games without scoring in double figures in this time before rebounding late in the season as Virginia Tech earned a WNIT bid. Although the Hokies bowed out at the quarter final stage, Panousis produced a vintage performance in her final game. Finishing with 17 points, Panousis shot 5-9 from the field to further extend her school record for three pointers. The Comets product finished her Virginia Tech with 269 three point field goals, and also holds the record for games started, career free throw percentage and three point attempts.

Dru Toleafoa

Sophomore | Guard | Santa Clara | Bankstown

Toleafoa featured regularly enough for Santa Clara this season, playing in 22 of the Broncos’ games. However, the sophomore’s playing time was on the thin side, averaging just 7 minutes of playing time per contest. Toleafoa’s opportunities have been limited so far and this may continue next season as both members of the Broncos’ backcourt will return for 2017/18. A strong offseason could certainly see the Bankstown product increase her minutes off the bench, though.

Katherine Ups

Junior | Guard | Buffalo | Illawarra

Emerging as a starter for Buffalo in her junior season, Katherine Ups started the season with a 16 point performance against Massachusetts that was good enough to set a new career high for the junior. Whilst her minutes dipped through the middle of the season, Ups’ playing time saw a resurgence towards the pointy end of the season to play a vital role for Buffalo. The reduction in minutes saw the Illawarra product’s per game numbers drop slightly, but when given the opportunity, Ups was still a solid contributor for Buffalo.

Liisa Ups

Junior | Guard | Buffalo | Illawarra

Coming off the bench in 20 games this season, Liisa Ups may not have been as visible on court as her sister, but still maintained a presence for Buffalo throughout the campaign. Averaging seven minutes of playing time per game, Ups played more than 10 minutes on seven occasions, including 20 minutes of action against Kent State. However, at other times her impact was limited to garbage time minutes, somewhat curbing the junior’s ability to make her mark. With Buffalo’s star guard Joanna Smith graduating after this season, there will no doubt be minutes opening up and Liisa will certainly want to make some of that redistributed playing time her own in her senior season.

Courtney West

Sophomore | Forward | Portland State | Sutherland

A block party in downtown Portland sounds like a lot of fun, but if you’re an opposition team and Courtney West is hosting, it may be best to turn down the invitation. The sophomore swatted away 94 shots this season, which was good enough for top 10 in the nation, but that was hardly her only contribution to a Portland State side that reached the conference tournament semi-finals. Averaging 10.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, West also picked up six double-doubles to quite literally lead the team from the front throughout the season. One of only two Portland State players to start all 32 games this year, West’s crowning achievement came in the first round of the conference tournament. Shooting an efficient 6-8 from the field, the Sutherland product dropped in 14 points and also finished with 10 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 blocks as the #7 seeded Vikings knocked off Northern Arizona 88-76 for the second time in two weeks to set themselves up for a run to the semi-finals.

NSW Player Of The Year: Courtney West (Portland State)

Whilst Alex Delaney also had an outstanding season, it is difficult to go past a player who had the kind of dominant season that Courtney West put together in 2016/17. In a conference not stacked with tall players, having a shot-blocker like West can be a real point of difference, and it showed. Whilst Portland State finished with the #7 seed after a solid but unspectacular regular season, West proved to be a tough matchup for some of the top sides in the conference and at times unstoppable against the lower teams in the Big Sky. The Sutherland product led the conference blocks list by over 40, and also produced at the offensive end to average double figures in points.

Player Team Games PPG RPG APG
Calver, Lauren Houston Baptist 26 4.81 2.31 0.46
Delaney, Alex St. Francis (NY) 30 10.40 5.27 3.17
Curtin, Abi Denver 22 2.05 2.18 0.27
Forcadilla, Jasmine St. Mary’s 31 3.03 0.97 1.68
Johnson, Megan UTRGV 33 4.12 4.06 0.49
Kirvan, Anais Fresno State 33 2.76 2.00 0.21
Loader, Elizajane Portland State 13 1.08 0.77 0.85
Milisic, Danijela USC 20 1.50 0.35 0.00
Panousis, Vanessa Virginia Tech 33 9.00 3.00 4.00
Toleafoa, Dru Santa Clara 22 0.36 1.09 0.18
Ups, Katherine Buffalo 32 3.38 3.22 1.72
Ups, Liisa Buffalo 20 0.90 1.25 1.15
West, Courtney Portland State 33 10.49 7.46 2.09