We tackled the task of trying to pin down the top five NCAA Division I women’s basketball players at each position in the country this season (so far). Some picks were obvious, some were less so.
It’s not until you set out to make such a list that you figure out just how long that list could possibly be.
What was clear was that the talent this season is spread far and wide across regions, conferences and positions. These 25 players represent 18 different teams and six different conferences. There are record-setters and up-and-comers, including two freshmen and four sophomores.
Each position includes five names listed in alphabetical order.
Chennedy Carter, Texas A&M
This spectacular junior is a dynamic scorer, averaging 23.2 points a game to rank her among the top five nationally. Carter’s consistency is impressive considering the number of teams designing defenses to stop her. She has scored in double figures in every game this season and has put up at least 20 points in seven straight games.
Crystal Dangerfield, Connecticut
Dangerfield brings perimeter shooting, quickness and a strong defensive mindset to a Huskies team in transition that relies heavily on her leadership. Dangerfield has averaged 19.2 points over the past five games and the Huskies will need more from her with some high-profile games coming up against Baylor, Oregon, Tennessee and South Carolina.
Tyasha Harris, South Carolina
On a team loaded with young talent, Harris is the steadying force. She is putting up the highest scoring average, 3-point percentage and free-throw percentage of her career. She ranks third in the SEC in assists per game at 4.6. Harris will be the key to holding the Gamecocks in place as they enter the gauntlet of SEC play, and with a big upcoming game against Connecticut.
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Sabrina Ionescu, Oregon
Ionescu is going to finish her career as one of the most decorated individual players in NCAA women’s basketball history with her triple-doubles record (which now sits at 21) and her status as the only active player to have scored 2,000 points in her career. But what she really wants is a title. She came so close a year ago that she decided to come back for a final season with the Ducks to get one. She is averaging nearly a triple-double this season so far at 15.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and an NCAA-leading 9.0 assists per game.
Destiny Slocum, Oregon State
Slocum can distribute, she can score and she is a tone-setter for the Beavers with her intensity and energy. Slocum ranks in the top 10 in the Pac-12 in scoring (14.4 points per game), shooting nearly 49 percent from the floor and ranked in the top five in assists at 5.0 assists per game.
Chelsea Dungee, Arkansas
Dungee has scored at least 20 points in 28 games during her Razorback career, with eight of them coming this season. Dungee, a redshirt junior, ranks third in the SEC in scoring thus far at 19.8 points per game behind Texas A&M’s Carter and Howard.
Dana Evans, Louisville
The junior is leading Louisville through a transition season following the graduation of All-American Asia Durr, setting the Cardinals' scoring pace at 19.1 points a game, making her the top scorer in the ACC thus far. Evans has already connected on 42 3-pointers so far this season. She's dishing out 3.9 assists per game as an improved passer and has made 90 percent of her free throws.
Rhyne Howard, Kentucky
Howard, perhaps the best sophomore in the country, is averaging 21.5 points per game for the Wildcats. Howard has hit 39 3-pointers already this season, and upgraded her free-throw shooting to make herself an even more dangerous weapon than she was as the national freshman of the year.
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Aari McDonald, Arizona
The scoring guard who followed Adia Barnes from Washington to Arizona has changed the face of the Wildcats program with her ability to put up big numbers. Her scoring is down a bit this season (20.2 points per game, down from 24.1 last season), but that’s because she has more help around her and that’s a great problem to have.
Mikayla Pivec, Oregon State
That Pivec is the Pac-12’s leading rebounder (9.8 per game) tells you everything you need to know about this work-hard guard, who is the complete package of skill, smarts and will. Pivec, a senior, leads the Beavers in points (15.4), rebounds, assists and steals.
Rennia Davis, Tennessee
Davis, the junior wing, is leading the Lady Vols’ resurgence to national prominence this season, averaging 16.7 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. She has scored in double figures in all but one game this season, including a 33-point, 10-rebound game against Notre Dame earlier this season that put her solidly on the national map.
Ashley Joens, Iowa State
The sophomore ranks in the top 10 nationally in scoring average (21.9) and just outside the top 10 in rebounding average (10.1). Joens, the Big 12’s leading scorer, is on pace to push for the program’s single-season scoring record, set last season by Bridget Carleton. She is also the only player in the NCAA averaging more than 20.0 points and 10.0 rebounds per game.
Michaela Onyenwere, UCLA
Onyenwere has plenty of upside as a national star in the making, who has been consistently good for the Bruins this season. Onyenwere is averaging 19.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game with a total of 20 steals. She's shooting better than 80 percent from the free-throw line.
Satou Sabally, Oregon
Sabally, a junior, has it all. She can shoot from the perimeter, compete in the paint and she’s absolutely key to a Ducks championship run. Sabally, who has missed four game this season, is averaging 15.5 points and 6.5 rebounds with six double-digit scoring efforts in eight games so far.
Megan Walker, UConn
Walker, who was highly regarded coming into UConn, has taken over the mantle as the Huskies go-to scorer, averaging 21.5 points a game. The junior, who averaged 12.1 last season, has scored at least 20 points in five of her last six games.
Bella Alarie, Princeton
A two-time Ivy League Player of the Year, Alarie is standing out not only in the Ivy League, but nationally. Alarie, the program’s all-time leader in blocks, is leading the Tigers at 16.9 points and 8.4 rebounds a game. The senior is shooting better than 62 percent from the 3-point arc and she has 37 double-doubles in her outstanding career.
Lauren Cox, Baylor
Cox missed nearly the entire non-conference schedule with a foot injury, but don’t let that diminish the impact she will have for the Bears as they attempt to win a 10th straight Big 12 title and defend their national title. They simply can’t do it without her. Cox played 22 minutes in her return last week, and put up 10 points, six rebounds, five assists and four blocks. She is a stat-sheet filler like no other player in the country.
Kiah Gillespie, Florida State
The Seminoles senior forward is pacing her team in scoring and rebounding at 15.9 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. A year ago, Gillespie became the first player in program history to lead her team in points, rebounds and 3-pointers.
Ruthy Hebard, Oregon
Efficient and heady, Hebard is the perfect complement to Sabrina Ionescu in Eugene. Hebard is the only active NCAA player with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. She is averaging 17.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, leading the Ducks in both categories. She has six double-doubles (46 overall for her career) and two 30-plus-point games so far this season.
Joyner Holmes, Texas
Holmes, a senior, has saved her best for last. She is averaging a career high in points (14.5) and rebounds (9.5) per game, along with the best free-throw percentage and assists average of her career. The power forward is helping a Texas team that started off shaky, but seems to have found its footing in time to challenge for the Big 12 title.
Aliyah Boston, South Carolina
This freshman is off to a stellar start as a dominating player inside who will only get better (and scarier) for the Gamecocks’ foes in the next three years. Boston already has 42 blocks this season, and she's averaging 12.7 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while playing just under 23 minutes per contest.
Elissa Cunane, North Carolina State
The 6-foot-5 sophomore is having a breakout season for one of the nation’s breakout teams in the ninth-ranked Wolfpack. Cunane is averaging 17.5 points and 10.4 rebounds per game with eight double-doubles. On Thursday, Cunane matched her career-high with a 28-point performance against Virginia Tech that included 23 second-half points.
Queen Egbo, Baylor
The 6-foot-3 sophomore had big shoes to fill, replacing All-American Kalani Brown. But she is well on her way, averaging 13.7 points and 7.8 rebounds a game while collecting six double-doubles so far.
Beatrice Mompremier, Miami (FL)
Mompremier, a fifth-year senior who was voted the ACC Preseason Player of the Year, has great back-to-the-basket ability and improved offensive range. She is pulling down 10.4 rebounds per game after setting the program’s single-season rebounding record last season.
Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Connecticut
This was going to be a big year for the 6-foot-5 sophomore, and so far, she’s coming up big to match the moment. Nelson-Ododa, who came off the bench for the Huskies as a freshman, is holding things down inside for the Connecticut, with 51 blocked shots already this season. She is averaging 13.8 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.