Freshmen Are Dominating NCAA Womens Hoops 

WHN | Mar 12, 2024

By Brandolyn Hellams After record breaking numbers last season in the women’s game, this season there isn’t much drop off…

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By Brandolyn Hellams

After record breaking numbers last season in the women’s game, this season there isn’t much drop off at all. Caitlin Clark setting the all time leading scorers record in NCAA D1 history. Paige Beuckers back on the court with the UCONN huskies, and South Carolina having back to back undefeated records heading into the postseason.

Several viral moments have happened throughout the season, with a lot of those moments being from freshman! Two rookies are top 3 in the country for points per game. One leads the nation in steals. These ladies are leading the charge for their programas. Let’s look closer into some of the top freshmen in the NCAA this season.

JuJu Watkins, University of Southern California:

JuJu Watkins came in as the no.1 recruit in the country, and she has done nothing but proved why that is. Watkins has lead the Trojans to their highest AP ranking since 1986, as they now sit at no.3. She is averaging 27ppg, is shooting over 40% and sits at no.1 on the list for free throws. JuJu has broken the record for most points scored in a game (51), most Pac 12 freshman of the week honors (14). She also broke Lisa Leslie’s record with the most 30 point games, just 6 games into her collegiate career. Watkins currently holds the record of most points in a season by a freshman. She’s currently in the running for National Freshman of the year, as well as the Ann Meyers Drysdale award which goes to the top shooting guard in the country. 

Hannah Hidalgo, University of Notre Dame: Hannah Hidalgo is listed as 5’6’’ but her game is larger than life. She came in as the no.5 recruit in the nation, and has had her foot on the gas since the first game of the season debuting with 31 points against undefeated South Carolina. Hidalgo is currently averaging 23.3ppg off of 45.3% shooting, and currently sits at no.3 in the nation for points per game. Hannah holds the record for most steals in the nation by a freshman, and sits on top of that list overall with 147 on the season. She has already one ACC defensive player of the year and Freshman of the year honors. She awaits the results of National Defensive player of the year, and National Freshman of the year. Hidalgo just lead her team to a 2024 conference championship, and took home the title of tournament MVP. 

MiKaylah Williams, Louisiana State University:

The two-time reigning Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year and no.2 recruit in the 2023 class according to ESPN. Williams is averaging 14.4 ppg on 47.2% shooting. She was named 2023-24 SEC Freshman of the year. Williams had a career high 42 points against Kent State, breaking the program single-game freshman record. Williams was named MVP of each 3×3 tournament from 2021 to 2023, and has 3 gold medals. The Tigers currently sit at no. 8 in the AP poll.

Madison Booker, University of Texas: Madison Booker comes in at no. 12 in the 2023 recruiting class. Booker is the leading scorer on the Longhorns averaging 16.6ppg on 45.5% shooting. She’s the Big 12 Player of the Year, and the  first freshman to earn the honor in Big 12 women’s basketball history. Naturally she won Freshman of the year honors for the conference as well. Madison has led her team to the Big XII championship, and they currently sit at no. 5 in the AP Power rankings. 

MiLaysia Fulwiley, University of South Carolina: Dawn Staley has a wonderful gift of getting student athletes to stay home and play in their own backyard. Fulwiley is another example of a player who has been added to a roster of dominance, but still pulling her own weight. Coming in as the no.13 recruit in the 2023 class, Fulwiley has proven that rankings don’t matter when you’ve got game. She’s averaging 11.8ppg on 44.4% shooting. Whenever Fulwiley enters the game, there’s an immediate impact on both ends of the floor, but especially defense. She has a total of 56 steals on the season and always shows an immediate pact as soon as he hits the floor for the Gamecocks. Although her numbers may not size up to some of her hoops classmates, you can’t deny her impact on the floor and amongst fans. Dommed the “highlight reel,” Fulwiley is known to have grab oohs and aahs from the crowd, and viral moments among social media. Fulwiley is the team’s X-factor. They don’t win games without her. Having lead her team to the SEC tournament Championship, she went home with All Tournament team honors, and MVP of the tournament. The nation can’t wait to see what Fulwiley does in the NCAA tournament to help her team get to Cleveland.

Audi Crooks, Iowa State University: Coming in at No. 57 in the 2023 recruiting class, Audit Crooks has had eyes on her for quite some time now. The 6’3’’ freshman stayed home to represent her state of Iowa. She’s averaging 18.4ppg on 58.3% shooting. Crooks is number 5 in the conference in scoring, and no.7 in the conference in rebounding.  It’s hard to guard Audi once she gets the ball in the post. She will battle for the boards, and go up strong. Crooks lead all scorers with 25 as the Cyclones won 85-68 victory over top seeded Oklahoma. They wait to take on the Longhorns for then conference championship.

Brandolyn Hellams is a journalist and producer in Atlanta, who covers sports and entertainment.

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