The 2017-18 Marquette women’s basketball season is quickly approaching, with the Golden Eagles set to tip off against New Mexico on Monday night. With that being the case, we’d better start previewing the team, huh?
We’ll start with the freshmen, which, by the way, will be the MUCH SHORTER of the two articles looking at the players on the team. Marquette has 11 returning players, one transfer sitting out the season (we’ll check in with you next year, Tori McCoy), and two freshmen. Like I said, this one will be much shorter.
Freshman - #24 - Guard - 5’11” - East Greenbush, New York
While we’re going in alphabetical order for the two women here, it’s safe to say that Selena Lott has already grabbed the attention of Marquette women’s head coach Carolyn Kieger. Ready for this?
One big addition that will help the Golden Eagles’ defense will be freshman guard Selena Lott. Kieger said she thinks Lott “is one of the best defenders in the whole entire country.”
That’s from the Marquette Wire story by John Hand that talks about Marquette’s efforts to improve defensively this coming season. We can expand on that quote from Kieger in this story by Ben Steele in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
“Selena is one of the best defenders in the whole, entire country. I can say that honestly, even as a freshman. I think she has a chance to be very special for us.”
That is far from faint praise, and it’s not the first time Kieger has noticed this about her. Let’s flash back to last November when Lott signed with the Golden Eagles:
“Selena is the best guard defender I have ever seen at her age.”
Perhaps it’s a bit of a big mantle of responsibility to place on the New York native, but hey: when the coach calls your number, you get out there and do what you need to do.
Lott comes into Marquette with a grade of 90 and a three star prospect rating from ESPN. The Worldwide Leader ranked her as the #30 guard in the country, with the #29 guard coming in at #99 in their top 100. For what it’s worth, ESPN only differentiates between point guards and guards in their women’s basketball recruiting setup. ESPN has three top 100 players coming out of New York altogether in this recruiting cycle. Beyond them, there’s three players, including Lott, that had a grade of 90.
As a junior, Lott led her Columbia High School team to the New York AA semifinals, and as a senior, she was named Player of the Year by the Troy Record after averaging over 20 points a game. She’s likely the best player in her high school team’s history. Her coach had this to say about her prep career:
“Selena is kind of a one of a kind,” Columbia head coach Sean McGraw said. “She’s such a versatile athlete that she can impact the court on every level and in every position. So she really does put herself a step up on all the players that she plays against.
“Her talent is just at such a high level that we don’t see it very often. She’s at a level of her own.”
Maybe Kieger’s not wrong about Lott’s ability to defend anyone at any time. Worst case scenario? Lott already has Kieger’s trust on the defensive end and that means the Golden Eagles have depth that they can tap into, which was a major weakness for them last season.
Freshman - #35 - Forward - 6’2” - Whitewater, Wisconsin
While Kieger has glowing reviews about Lott already this season, that’s not to say that her classmate is some kind of a slouch. Smith-Traore won a Wisconsin state title with Whitewater High School in 2015 when she was a sophomore, so she knows what it takes to win. After recording 17 points, 18 rebounds, and four blocks in the title game, Smith-Traore turned around and averaged 17 and 15 as a junior, and found time for three assists, three steals, and nearly six blocks per game, too. That’s how she won her first Jefferson County Player of the Year award and her first Rock Valley Conference North Division POY award, and she won both again as a senior, too. Last season, Smith-Traore matched all of her stats from her junior campaign and led the state - yes, the whole damn state - in blocked shots with 126.
The most boggling part about Whitewater’s all-time leader in rebounds and blocks is that she doesn’t seem to have gained all that much national acclaim for her accomplishments. In 2016, she was one of three juniors on the all-state First Team as decided on by the Associated Press, and the only unanimous choice, which would seem to make her the best player in the Class of 2017 in the state. Unsurprisingly, she earned First Team honors again following her senior season. Even with all of that, she still doesn’t have a recruiting profile on ESPN.com. Go figure. What I can tell you is that back last year when she signed with Marquette, Smith-Traore was ranked #39 in the country by one recruiting service that the athletic department mentioned, and #185 by another. That, kids, is what we like to call “a lack of consensus.”
As you can probably guess by all the discussion of rebounding and shot blocking, Smith-Traore most needs to work on her offensive game. That’s fine. The Golden Eagles roster is loaded with scorers in the junior class, so all Smith-Traore needs to do is the thing that she does best in order to earn playing time. Carolyn Kieger has already said that Smith-Traore “does the right thing every time” and that she’s “the most coachable kid” as a freshman that Kieger has worked with in her career, so odds are it won’t be long before we see her start to assemble a few double-doubles on the collegiate level.