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Meet the Freshman Phenoms of NCAA Women’s Basketball

First-year players are shining at South Carolina, LSU, and USC.

MiLaysia Fulwiley, MiKaylah Williams, and JuJu Watkins
College basketball's freshman phenoms, courtesy of The Mirror US, SI, and Gator 99.5.

With only two months until March Madness, D1 college basketball teams are battling it out to secure their spots in this year’s bracket. An updated poll of the top 25 NCAA women's basketball teams based on records and points scored was released by AP on Monday. All teams on the list have played some of their best ball this season, but three in particular have benefitted from talented freshmen who have played large roles in their successes.

South Carolina’s newest guard, MiLaysia Fulwiley, came into the program with an outstanding resume. Fulwiley completed her high school career as the No. 13 overall player in her class and all-time leading scorer for her school with over 3,000 points. She also competed in the McDonald's All-American game, where she scored 17 points. Dawn Staley's team is the perfect fit for her; as a freshman, Fulwiley is already averaging over 10 points a game, making her the Gamecocks’ third leading scorer. She’s played a key role in her team’s wins and has gone viral for her clutch plays, no-look passes, and amazing ball handling. As her game continues to improve, she will definitely be a problem in March!

JuJu Watkins, a freshman guard for USC, is a different breed. She currently averages over 25 points a game, with a career high of 35 points in a game against Le Moyne. Watkins is the only Trojan besides Lisa Leslie to have been named the Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year and awarded a Jersey Mike Naismith Trophy (Watkins for high school player of the year, Leslie for college player of the year). She also set a new conference record on Jan 15, winning her 10th Pac-12 Freshman of the Week Award. Watkins may be a freshman, but she’s balling like a pro.

This season, the 2023 National Champions at LSU welcomed freshman Mikaylah Williams as their newest guard. The Louisiana native has been a great addition to the Tigers, and her chemistry with her teammates is unmatched. She averages over 15 points per game, with a career high of 42 points in a game against Kent State. Her dominance on the court is no shock to those who have been watching her since high school. Williams sports a list of accomplishments that is nothing short of amazing: USA Basketball 3×3 Athlete of the Year, 2023 Morgan Wooten National Player of the Year, and two-time Louisiana Gatorade Athlete of the Year. Watching her development at LSU will be a thrilling experience.

With March Madness approaching, Fulwiley, Watkins, and Williams are three athletes to keep an eye on. These freshman phenoms have demonstrated high levels of grit and tenacity and have also proven to be reliable players for their teams. From leading scoring to producing clutch plays, these ladies are truly exceptional on the court. 


Edited by Ella Chang

Social media content created by Daryl Batt

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