PG: Jessica Washington — 3 stars
Washington sat out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer rules, but will play a vital role in Schneider’s offense this season. She was ranked the No. 14 overall player in the 2013 high school women’s basketball recruiting class and was the No. 2 overall point guard according to ESPN HoopGurlz. Washington averaged 7.3 points during her sophomore year at North Carolina. She went on to average 12.5 points per game while shooting 50% from the floor during the 2015 ACC Tournament. Washington is a quick guard who will bring some fire to this Kansas team.
PG: McKenzie Calvert — 3 stars
Calvert is a redshirt sophomore who also sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. In 2014, Calvert was a five-star point guard and ranked as the No. 15 overall recruit by ESPN HoopGurlz. In her freshman year at Southern California, she averaged 10.2 points per game and was able to capture a Pac-12 freshman of the week honors. In the women’s European tour this past summer, Calvert showed that she can be an answer to Kansas’ lackluster scoring last season.
SG: Kylee Kopatich — 4 stars
In her freshman campaign, Kopatich showed just how valuable she is to this Kansas squad. Last year, Kopatich led the team with 43 steals and 67 trips to the free-throw line. Kopatich was the second leading scorer on the team, averaging 9.5 points per game behind former Kansas point guard Lauren Aldridge. She was also able to lead the team with 113 defensive rebounds on the season. Her raw talent and go-to scoring ability will help her emerge as an elite player on the team this season.
SF: Chayla Cheadle — 2 stars
Cheadle started 23 out of 31 games in the 2015-16 season and was able to rack-up 30 steals. Cheadle was an important factor in Kansas’ win over TCU in the first round of the Big 12 championship last year. She posted 15 points while shooting 5-of-8 from the field. Expect Cheadle to be an important role player on the court this season.
C: Caelynn Manning-Allen — 2 stars
Kansas head coach Brandon Schneider will look for senior Manning-Allen to dominate down low this year. Last season, Manning-Allen was an intimidating presence in the paint as she led the team with 38 blocks and 4.9 rebounds per game. Manning-Allen shot 40.7% on the field for the season but averaged only 6.7 points per game. If Kansas really wants to bring their play to new heights this season, Manning-Allen must create more scoring opportunities and finish at the rim.
At a glance:
This year, head coach Brandon Schneider will look to be a threat in conference play after going 0-18 in the Big 12 last season. Jessica Washington and McKenzie Calvert will help provide Schneider with the extra scoring ability Kansas desperately needs. Their opening-round win against TCU in the 2016 Big 12 tournament is something this team can build off of. After going on a 4-0 run during their European tour this past summer, this Kansas team should have great chemistry heading into the season.
Player to watch: Kylee Kopatich
Kopatich has emerged as a key player for this Kansas team and will be called upon to elevate her game to a new level this season. Kopatich started 30 out of 31 games last season and was ranked eighth in the Big 12 for minutes played. She was able to hit 45 of her 171 three-pointers in 2015-16 and will look to improve that number this year. As a freshman, Kopatich was just shy of averaging double-figures in points per game last season. In her transition from a Freshman to a Sophomore, expect Kopatich to have a break-out season in 2016-17.
Question Mark: Who will replace Lauren Aldridge?
With Lauren Aldridge no longer at Kansas, who will make up for her 344 points and 73 assists? Jessica Washington and McKenzie Calvert are two capable guards that can help fill the gap Lauren Aldridge left behind when she transferred to Missouri last spring. Washington is an athletic guard who can dish the ball and take it to the hoop. Calvert is a natural scorer and has great handles on the floor. These two guards have the ability to emerge as stars in their own right this season. Kylee Kopatich is also a viable option to not only fill, but improve, last year's amount of scoring opportunities.
By the numbers:
0 — The amount of games Kansas won on the road last season.
1 — The number of players that posted a double-digit point per game total for the 2015-16 season.
46 — The difference between the highest (81) and smallest (35) point totals in a game last season.
Big Jay will cheer if:
Kansas’ guards consistently create scoring opportunities while Manning-Allen is a dominant force in the paint. Although Manning-Allen led the team in total rebounds last season, she failed to lead the team in offensive and defensive rebounds. At 6'4", Manning-Allen must use her size to clean up the boards and finish at the rim. It should also be a successful season if Kylee Kopatich can lead Kansas to victories with key players like Tyler Johnson contributing off of the bench.
— Edited by Lexanna Sims