SEATTLE -- Washington women’s basketball officially began the 2013-14 season today with the first day of practice. It is a familiar looking squad, despite former assistant coach Mike Neighbors taking over at the helm of the program.
Washington returns four starters, including two-time All-Pac-12 player Jazmine Davis who should garner All-America consideration this season. She is Washington’s all-time leader in scoring after two seasons and finished second in the conference in scoring last year at 19.2 points per game.
Also returning is senior Mercedes Wetmore who led the conference in assist to turnover ratio last year. She is back to basketball full-time after helping Heather Tarr and the softball team to a run deep into the College World Series.
Other returning starters are Pac-12 All-Defensive Team honoree Aminah Williams and Pac-12 All-Freshman team honoree Talia Walton. Williams had the second-best rebounding total in Washington history last season, while Walton was second among Pac-12 freshmen in scoring at 13.6 points per game.
“Aminah is taking on more of a leadership role,” said Neighbors. “She had an incredible year last season and we just hope she can repeat it. Talia is in the best basketball shape of her life. She looks great and can make big strides this season.”
The Dawgs also welcome a great group of newcomers led by McDonalds All-Americans Kelsey Plum and Katie Collier. Plum, a true freshman, played for Team USA at the U-19 World Championships this summer, winning a gold medal. Collier redshirted last year after a knee injury, but was a full participant in the first practice this season.
“Full credit to our athletic trainer Jenn Stueckle, “said Neighbors. “All along, our goal was to have Katie ready for September 30 -- our first day of practice and she was out there ready to go today.”
The other members of the freshman class are Chantel Osahor and Brianna Ruiz. Ruiz will redshirt this season after suffering an ACL injury during summer workouts. Osahor gives UW a true post player who along with Collier give the Dawgs a big upgrade in the paint.
The final newcomer is Alexus Atchley, a transfer from Colorado. Atchley was a walk-on for the Buffaloes last season and saw action in eight games. She played her high school basketball at Yorba Linda in Southern California.
“She is a Pac-12 caliber player,” said Neighbors. “She brings great toughness and will add depth to our guard rotation. Most importantly, she has fit in really well with our team so far.”
Washington has high expectations for the new season with the combination of key returners and an influx of new talent. Neighbors expects to continue the momentum built when he was an assistant under former head coachthat saw the Dawgs have back-to-back 20-win seasons and a pair of WNIT berths.
Notes: Macy Keen who committed to Washington as a transfer from Miami did not meet NCAA transfer eligibility requirements and has enrolled in junior college … Deborah Meeks has left the Washington program for Trinity Valley Junior College to fulfill her desire for more playing time.