Blinn College women's basketball coach Jeff Jenkins has added depth and athleticism to the roster as the Buccaneers pursue a winning season in 2019-20.
"Our goal is to have a 20-win season and to be playing our best at the end of the year at the Region XIV tournament for a chance to go back to nationals," Jenkins said.
The Buccaneers have made the regionals the past 16 seasons, but this year's talent could take Blinn women's basketball back to nationals for the first time since 2015-16.
"We have more depth than I have had in 20 years of coaching and our athleticism is good, so my main focus will be to figure out the best combination as far as team chemistry early on," Jenkins said. "We aren't going to be the traditional team in the sense that we aren't very big, but we shoot the ball well and are athletic so can rebound. We are fast and can score pretty quickly."
"Our five sophomores are looking to have a special season and leave Blinn following a successful year," Jenkins said. "They have gotten so much better and we are expecting a lot out of them this year."
Last season, Ezimako started in 31 games and led Blinn with 63 steals and 40 blocks, while recording 15.1 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game.
"We expect Kristine to be one of our best players this season," Jenkins said. "She can hit three-pointers, rebound, shoot free throws, get into the paint, defend, and blocks shots. If she stays focused the whole year, she has a chance to be really special."
Wimbish-Gay played in 31 games last year and was second on the team with 112 assists and third on the team with a 75.8 free throw percentage, while Spencer played in 26 games her freshman season (2017-18) and was third on the team with 239 total points.
"Imani is a smart kid, good defender, and good at the free-throw line," Jenkins said. "Alanna is a really good three-point shooter and when she gets hot in a game, she can rack up a lot of points."
Wade played in 29 games and recorded 6.4 points per game, while Sanders played in 20 games and was fourth on the team with 121 rebounds.
"Wade is a good three-point shooter and it has been fun to watch her improve so much from a freshman to a sophomore," Jenkins said. "Jordan had surgery last year and so far hasn't participated in practices, so we don't know what to expect from her yet."
Three transfers will join the Buccaneers this season. Gabriela Bosquez (Kyle) joins Blinn after appearing in 18 games for St. Edward's University, Mia Cherry (Brock) comes from Oklahoma Baptist University where she played in 27 games, and Tanea Sims (Houston) transfers from Howard College where she played in 28 games.
"Gabriela is one of the hardest working players I have ever coached, Mia is really competitive and a good three-point shooter, and Tanea is a post player who can get rebounds and plays really hard," said Jenkins. "I am really happy with all three transfers and they will play a lot."
The Buccaneers add 10 incoming freshmen this season in forwards Deja Adrian (Houston), Ah'Jaya Johnson (Houston), Jessica Soders (Houston), and Alex Bowen (Kaufman), and guards Hailey Atwood (Austin), Jenessa Souza (Fairfield, Calif.), Acajia Dickerson (Edna), Keaundra Eddings (Navasota), Briauna Johnson (Crosby) and Wynter Taylor (Cuero).
"We have brought in a good freshmen class that is athletic, plays hard and is not afraid to compete," Jenkins said. "Every single one of our freshmen does something really well. It makes practices a lot better and gives us a lot of options this season."
Adrian played for Aldine Senior High School and was named the district's MVP in 2019, Ah'Jaya Johnson was named the Offensive Player of the Year her junior season at Aldine Nimitz High School, Soders was named the team MVP at Westside High School in 2019, and Bowen earned all-region honors while playing for Crandall High School.
Atwood was named the district's MVP for two seasons and picked up all-state and all-Centex honors at James Bowie High School, Souza was named the league's MVP at Vanden High School, Dickerson was named the team's MVP and defensive MVP at Edna High School, Eddings earned all-state honors and helped lead Navasota High School to the playoffs all four seasons, Briauna Johnson earned all-state honors at Crosby High School, and Taylor played basketball and ran track at Crosby High School.
The Buccaneers finished with a 12-19 record in 2018-19 and earned a spot in the Region XIV tournament for the 16th consecutive year. The Buccaneers concluded the season at the regional quarterfinals after being defeated by No. 4 Trinity Valley Community College.
The 2019-20 season opens on Friday, Nov. 1, at 5:30 p.m. when the Buccaneers take on Seminole State College in the Grayson Classic in Denison.
"All of these kids have really big motors and are quick and extremely aggressive," said Jeff Jenkins, Blinn head coach. "They can all play really hard and I have been really impressed so far, so I am really looking forward to this season."
Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 41 NJCAA national championships since 1987.