The Kansas State Wildcats’ women’s basketball season is done. Here are five thoughts about the 2021-22 season and what’s ahead for the basketball program.
Kansas State challenged itself to start the season with games against North Carolina State, eventual national champion South Carolina and Oregon. The Wildcats won the game against Oregon, and that served as a sign of things to come. The Wildcats opened Big 12 play with a home win over defending Big 12 champions Baylor. A few weeks later, the country focused on Manhattan as center Ayoka Lee scored an NCAA single-game record 61 points in a win over Oklahoma. Shortly after, Lee made it clear that she would return for the 2022-23 season. But the Wildcats weren’t done yet. Kansas State slipped into the Top 25 a couple of times, made the 20-win mark and won its first NCAA Tournament game since 2017. Kansas State saw its season end against North Carolina State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. But, by then, Lee was racking up All-America honors and guard Serena Sundell was considered one of the Big 12’s best freshmen.
Guard Jada Moore, guard Malene Lind Pedersen and forward Rachel Ranke have entered the transfer portal. Savannah Simmons, Cymone Goodrich and Laura Macke were all honored at senior night and have a COVID season of eligibility to tap into. Macke had the most impact, playing 33 games, making six starts and averaging 4.5 points.
Who’s Coming Back?
Kansas State is returning every significant contributor from last season’s team, starting with Lee, who averaged 22 points, 10.3 rebounds and was one of the nation’s top shot blockers, averaging nearly three per game. Sundell was on the All-Big 12 Freshman team and averaged 10.6 points. Brylee Glenn also made that All-Big 12 Freshman Team and averaged 8.2 points. Jaelyn Glenn (6.6 points) and Emilee Ebert (5.8 points) are also set to return. With that quintet, the Wildcats have a returning starting lineup. Rebekah Dallinger, Heavenly Greer and Taylor Lauterbach are the depth that head coach Jeff Mittie has to work with.
Who’s Coming In?
The Wildcats have a Top 25 recruiting class for 2022 — guards Michayla Gatewood (Glenn Heights, Texas), Ja’Mia Harris (Lancaster, Texas), Mikayla Parks (Norman, Oklahoma) and forward Eliza Maupin (Webster Groves, Missouri). Maupin looks like the centerpiece, as she was ranked No. 71 by All-Star Girls Report and is a three-sport athlete. Gatewood and Harris both play at the same Dallas-area high school — DeSoto.
What to Watch For
The Wildcats appear to have at least one scholarship to work with, so the Wildcats could be active in the transfer portal. Lee’s return and the terrific work of Sundell and the Glenn sisters means they’re an attractive team for a player looking to be a missing piece for a program looking to elevate next season. Lee will get all of the preseason attention, but it’s the development of those younger players that will determine if the Wildcats can go farther next season.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.