Kansas women's basketball program subtracts three sophomores and welcomes seven newcomers
It has been another offseason of roster upheaval for the Kansas women’s basketball program headed by Brandon Schneider.
One year after two-year starter Lauren Aldridge’s surprising decision to transfer to Missouri, three sophomores who combined for 30 starts this past season have left the program.
The departure of McKenzie Calvert, whose sharp decline in production during Big 12 play and team-second attitude led to a permanent spot on the bench by the end of the season, did not come as a surprise. She started 12 games and scored 30 points in a non-conference game vs. UC Riverside before heading into a shooting slump she couldn’t shake.
Jayde Christopher started 16 games, averaged 19.4 minutes and three points and had a team-high 82 assists.
Aisia Robertson started two games, averaged 15.2 minutes, 4.4 points and 3.4 rebounds.
All three players who left the program had rough shooting seasons: Robertson (.287 shooting percentage), Calvert (.294), Christopher (.307).
As a team, the Jayhawks shot .338 from the field. TCU was ninth in the conference with a .410 accuracy rate.
At this point, coach Brandon Schneider enters his third season with five returning players, four transfers from junior college and three freshmen.
Three of the returning players started last season for the Jayhawks (8-22 overall, 2-16 in conference). Jessica Washington (17.1 points, 4.1 rebounds) and Chayla Cheadle (4.7, 4.7) are rising seniors, Kaylee Kopatich (9.5, 4.4) a junior. Junior Chelsea Lott played sparingly in her first two seasons. Tyler Johnson spent last season as a redshirt while recovering from a knee injury. During a promising freshman season, Johnson averaged 5.2 points and 3.5 rebounds and shot 50 percent from the field. She started seven games, including the final four of the season.
To a large extent, it appears, Schneider is starting over. He has one terrific player in Washington, but she might be forced to look to score too often again this season if more scorers don’t develop around her than was the case last season.
The challenge in taking on a rebuilding project like the one for which Schneider signed up is that moving up the standings in the powerful Big 12 requires climbing past another school.
That’s tough to do without changing perceptions about the program embedded in recruits’ heads. So far, it doesn’t look as if Schneider has been able to do so.
None of the incoming freshmen made the HoopGurlz top 100 recruiting rankings.
Eleven top 100 high school players signed with Big 12 schools. The Jayhawks were not the only school skunked. Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas Tech did not land any top 100 players either. The four schools that didn’t add a top 100 recruit finished seventh through 10th in the Big 12 standings.
Texas (3, 4, 33) and Baylor (19, 20, 64) landed three top 100 recruits apiece, Kansas State picked up two (59, 97) and Oklahoma (32), Iowa State (42) and West Virginia each added one.
Unless a few of the seven newcomers catch on quickly and have productive seasons, Kansas likely is headed for a third consecutive last-place finish in the Big 12.
The two-season conference records of Big 12 women’s basketball teams since Schneider took over for fired Bonnie Henrickson: