Buccaneers add athleticism and speed to the court in 2017-18

After three NJCAA Division I National Tournament appearances in the last five years, the Blinn College women's basketball team will count on its athleticism to bring the Buccaneers back in 2017-18.

"We are extremely quick and athletic, most of our positions can run, and we should be able to play hard and fast," said Jeff Jenkins, Blinn head coach. "This is one of the hardest working teams that I've had at Blinn; they come and practice hard every day."

With three returning for Blinn, including two starters that led in points and rebounds, the Buccaneers are looking to build off of last year's winning season.

"Usually the difference between a freshman and sophomore is huge in junior college, so I am expecting them to be a lot better players than they were last year," said Jenkins. "All three of our returners play really hard and really have high motors."

Returning for Blinn are forwards Ke'Asia Williams (Bryan), Jade Rochelle (Grandview), and Missy Archie (Huntsville).

Last season, Williams started in 25 games and led the Buccaneers with 13.2 points per game. She was second on the team with 8.3 rebounds per game to earn all-conference and all-region honors, while Rochelle started in 27 games and led Blinn with 8.9 rebounds per game, while following Williams in scoring with 10.1 points per game. Archie returns after redshirting last season and is a player who has shown vast improvement, is a really good shooter, and can run, jump, and rebound.

"A lot of times you don't have your leading scorers and rebounders coming back, so it's nice to have that experience," Jenkins said.

Kyler Wyatt (Cypress), Rayanna Carter (Cedar Park), and Aaliyah Holmes (San Antonio) are all transfer sophomores who will complement Blinn's returning forwards by adding depth at the guard position.

A transfer from Prairie View A&M, Wyatt is a really aggressive and extremely quick player. Carter, a transfer from Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, is an athletic point guard who is equipped with both speed and ball handling skills. Holmes played in 23 games for Southern Arkansas University before transferring to Blinn and knows how to play hard and shoot the ball really well.

"They are all really hungry this season," Jenkins said. "Our athleticism is really good, especially because of our extremely fast point guards."

The Buccaneers add seven new faces to the roster this season with incoming freshman guards Sable Barnes (Houston), Kayla Konarik (Mont Belvieu), and Alanna Spencer (Houston), along with incoming freshman forwards Skylah Hawkins (Dallas), Armani Anderson (Corpus Christi), I'mUnique Shelton (Dallas), and Alexus Wykoff (Magnolia).

Barnes can score, has great ball handling skills, and plays hard, Konarik shoots the ball extremely well, and competed in the Basketball State Championships with Barbers Hill, and Spencer is a really good three-point shooter with a quick release. Hawkins is a 6-foot forward who is really fast, long, and athletic, Anderson is a really strong post player who competed in the Basketball State Championships with Flour Buff, and Shelton is extremely athletic and can run, and Wykoff is 6-foot and can shoot the ball with a quick release.

"Hopefully some of these recruits that we brought in will be able to hit some open shots because that's where we struggled last year," Jenkins said. "I have no idea who will get the playing time because they all could be really good; it's just about how quickly they will learn and adjust."

The Buccaneers finished with a 19-12 record in 2016-17 and earned a spot in the Region XIV Tournament for the 14th consecutive year. Blinn concluded the season at the regional quarterfinals after being defeated by Tyler Junior College.  

The 2017-18 season opens tonight against Temple College at 5:30 p.m. on the road.

"There is a lot of potential this season because our athleticism is really good and we have extremely fast post guards," said Jenkins. "We will be up and down the court, so for those who like to watch up and down basketball, we will be pretty fun to watch."

Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 36 NJCAA national championships since 1987.