Big 12 Basketball

BYU Women’s Basketball Transfer Portal Top Takeaways

The BYU Cougars women’s basketball team is facing an offseason of transition as they prepare for their second season in the Big 12 Conference.

Last season the Cougars went 16-17 overall and 6-12 in conference play. BYU lost its Big 12 Tournament opening game against Kansas but earned a spot in the Women’s Basketball Invitational Tournament. The Cougars lost in the first round to Santa Clara.


It will be a season of significant change as the Cougars must replace their leading scorer and rebounder, along with their second-leading scorer and top 3-point shooter. How did they do it?

In this edition of Portal Thoughts, we look at what BYU has done this offseason and what it has left to do.

BYU’s Losses (2)

BYU lost two players to eligibility but both were significant.

Forward Lauren Gustin averaged a double-double in each of her last two seasons with the Cougars. Last season she was BYU’s leading scorer and rebounder with 16.7 points and 15.3 rebounds. BYU will miss her presence in the paint.

Guard Kaylee Smiler, a native of New Zealand, averaged 7.2 points and played more than 35 minutes per game last season.

BYU’s Transfer Losses (3)

The Cougars lost three players to the transfer portal, per On3.

Guard Nani Falatea will play for Oregon this season. She played just three games for the Cougars last season and averaged 8.7 points and 3.3 rebounds. But she’s a significant loss. As a sophomore in 2022-23 she averaged 15.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.6 steals while earning All-West Coast Conference honors.

Forward Rose Bubakar played 14 minutes and averaged 3.2 points last season. She might have gotten more playing time in the wake of Gustin’s departure. Bubakar is staying in Utah and will play at Weber State.


Forward Ali’a Matavao is in the portal but has not landed with a school after she averaged less than a point per game as a freshman.

BYU’s Mission Trips (2)

Kailey Woolston, a freshman guard last season, announced in February that she would be participating in an 18-month mission trip, which means she won’t play in the 2024-25 season. That’s a significant on-court loss for the Cougars. Woolston was the team’s second-leading scorer with 13.3 points per game and shot more than 46% from the 3-point line.

Forward McKinley Willardson is also on a mission trip this season. She played in just six games last season.

BYU’s Transfer Gains (4)

The Cougars pulled four players out of the portal for next season.

Cal guard Kemery Martin, a Sandy, Utah, product returns to her home state as a redshirt senior who averaged 10.6 points and 3.7 rebounds last season.

Another guard, Hattie Ogden from Buffalo, should give them length offensively after she averaged 7.5 points and 4.5 rebounds for the Bulls.

Santa Clara guard Marya Hudgins averaged 7.7 points and 5.4 rebounds a year ago. She played her prep ball in Aurora, Colo.

Kendra Gillispie joins BYU after spots at Baylor and Arkansas State. The senior forward averaged 3.5 points and 5.1 rebounds last season.


BYU’s Recruiting Gains (5)

The Cougars have a huge recruiting class, with five freshmen joining the team. The class is filled with state champions and state players of the year and two were high school teammates.

Guard Naia Tanuvasa from Lone Peak High School in Highland, Utah, led her school to three Class 6A state championships. She even led them to a state soccer title. Her teammate, center Sarah Bartholomew, was also on all three of those state championship teams.  

Guard Brinley Cannon was a two-time Idaho 4A Player of the Year in Shelley, Idaho. She won a state championship in the spring and left Shelley High School as its all-time leading scorer and rebounder.

Another Idaho recruit, guard Kambree Barber from Rigby, Idaho, was a Class 5A all-state player.

Guard Delaney Gibb played for Raymond High in Raymond, Alberta, Canada, and was named Miss Alberta basketball two years in a row. She already has international experience with the Canadian U-17 and U-19 teams.

Set to Return (7)

Guard Amari Whiting is the player to look to from last year’s team. As a freshman, the daughter of the head coach averaged 10.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists. Her overall shooting percentage needs to improve from a season ago, but she has a high ceiling for improvement.

Forward Emma Calvert averaged 7.4 points and 4.1 rebounds last season, and she’ll get a crack at more playing time with Gustin out the door.

Guard Lauren Davenport is back after she averaged 6.0 points in 23 minutes per game.

From there, guard Kyle Krebs, forward Marina Mata, guard Arielle Mackey-Williams and forward Heather Hamson will vie for opportunities to produce after spending most of the season on the bench. Mackey-Williams missed all of last season with a knee injury.

What’s Left?

Right now the Cougars have 15 players on the roster so there doesn’t appear to be any more work left to do on the recruiting front. Now it’s all about player development and finding the players that will take up the slack left by Gustin and Woolston.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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