Big 12 Basketball

Big 12 Portal Report: Cincinnati Women Leaning Into Development for 2024

Cincinnati Coach Katrina Merriweather. (photo courtesy Big 12)

The Cincinnati Bearcats women’s basketball team hope to prove one doesn’t have to completely rely on the transfer portal to get better.

The Bearcats are coming off a 14-18 season, their first in the Big 12 Conference and first under coach Katrina Merriweather.


While Cincinnati won just five league games, they did win their Big 12 Tournament debut against UCF and then squeezed into the WNIT, where it lost its first game against Purdue Fort Wayne.

For Merriweather, getting Cincinnati basketball turned around is personal. She was a four-year letterwinner as a player. Now, entering her second season as coach, she’s hoping player development is her team’s ticket to a winning record.

In this edition of the Portal Report, we look at what the Bearcats have done and what they have left to do this offseason.

Cincinnati’s Losses (2)

The Bearcats lost just two players to eligibility after the season.

Mya Jackson was able to play just seven games last season and averaged 7.9 points in nearly 20 minutes per game. That was Jackson’s fifth season of college basketball and she is not on this year’s roster.

The other is Nia Clark, a guard who played just 8.2 minutes per game a season ago.

Cincinnati’s Transfer Losses (4)

The Bearcats lost four players to the transfer portal, one of which was a significant part of their frontcourt last season.


Forward Malea Williams is at Florida State now after she finished the season as the Bearcats’ third-leading scorer. She averaged 8.3 points and 5.9 rebounds.

The other three transfers averaged less than five points. Guard Braylyn Milton (4.9 ppg) is now at East Tennessee State, guard Ta’Ziah Jenks (4.6 ppg) is now at Florida Atlantic and forward/center Clarissa Craig (4.5 ppg) is now at New Mexico.

Cincinnati’s Transfer Gains (3)

The Bearcats have three players coming in through the transfer portal, though all are looking for more opportunities for production this season.

Texas A&M guard Tineya Hylton helped the Aggies reach the NCAA Tournament a season ago but averaged just 4.1 points. Another guard, Daylee Dunn, played for Loyola Marymount last year and averaged 2.7 points.

The most intriguing transfer is forward Alliance Ndiba from Arizona Western, who averaged a double-double for her career at the two-year college — 14 points and 11.8 rebounds. She was one of the top NJCAA players in the country.

Cincinnati’s Recruiting Gains (1)

The Bearcats signed just one player during the early period, guard Chloe Mann. The 5-foot-8 guard is from Texas power Duncanville, where she helped the Panthers remain a Top 25 program. Mann’s parents have Big 12 ties, as both played sports at Kansas State.

Set to Return (9)

The Bearcats have one of the more stable rosters returning in the Big 12, led by forward Jillian Hayes.


Hayes was Cincinnati’s leading scorer and rebounder last season, as she averaged 12.9 points and 8.4 rebounds. When she opted to trigger her COVID waiver, Merriweather and her staff breathed much easier.

Guard A’riel Jackson is also back after a tremendous second season in which she averaged 9.4 points in 29 games. Guard Reagan Jackson was the Bearcats’ fourth-leading scorer a season ago after she poured in 8.2 points.

From there, the Bearcats have six players looking for more playing time. Guard Aïcha Dia, guard Abby Holtman, forward Brianna Byars, center Destiny Thomas and center Delaney Snyder all played last season. Forward Ramiyah Byrd redshirted.  

What’s Left?

With 13 players on the roster, the Bearcats look set for next season. They have continuity to build around with Hayes and the Jacksons, along with a swath of opportunity for the Bearcats’ young players and transfers.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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