Editor's note: In college basketball, it’s next season already. The 2019-20 season paused into oblivion, now rosters are building busily for 2020-21. Meet the Gophers men’s and women’s teams, new player after new player.
After completing a 16-15 season — one that contained its fair share of controversy — the Gophers women’s basketball team will enter its third season under coach Lindsay Whalen next fall with a roster that looks significantly different and a good bit deeper.
Three starters return, and two — point guard Jasmine Powell and wing Sara Scalia — were Big Ten all-freshman selections. Gadiva Hubbard, a prolific three-point shooter last season, also returns.
The Gophers should be able to score. It remains to be seen how Whalen will make up for the loss of Taiye and Kehinde Bello; Taiye Bello was one of the Big Ten’s best rebounders the past two seasons. Defending in the post and providing a viable offensive threat in the paint are issues that will need solving.
Here’s a look at what to expect from next season’s roster:
Jasmine Powell, PG, 5-6 sophomore
After coming off the bench for much of this past season, Powell moved into the starting lineup for the final 12 games, averaging 17.1 points and scoring in double figures in 11 of them. She also averaged 3.4 assists and shot nearly 36% on three-pointers in those 12 games. Named an All-Big Ten freshman by both the media and the coaches.
Outlook: Powell returns as a point guard with promise whose game should continue to grow.
Sara Scalia, G/F, 5-10 sophomore
A hard-nosed wing who moved into the starting lineup in the second game and never left. Twice conference freshman of the week, she averaged 10.8 points and 32.2 minutes per game. Her 59 threes made — she shot 36.9% — rank fourth among Gophers freshmen all-time.
Outlook: Will be a key player, as the team’s most efficient returning three-point shooter.
Gadiva Hubbard, G, 5-9 senior
She ended 2019-20 seventh in Gophers history in three-pointers made and attempted (178-for-510) and 20th in points (1,072). She started all 31 games but was up-and-down in her scoring, ultimately averaging 11.2 points while leading the team in minutes played (1,002), three-pointers made (63) and steals (53).
Outlook: As one of only two seniors on the roster, her leadership will be important.
Kadi Sissolo, G/F, 6-2 sophomore
The Gophers waited a year for Sissolo, a top-10 prospect in her high school recruiting class who sat out a year after transferring from Syracuse. Much will be expected of this 6-2 wing from France. Her length and athletic ability will help on both ends of the floor.
Outlook: An almost certain starter whose impact could be significant.
Laura Bagwell-Katalinich, F, 6-0 senior
A transfer coming home. A former Holy Angels standout who started 50 of 52 games at Cornell and averaged 14.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.9 steals, shooting 45.6%.
Outlook: Will vie for significant playing time and could start against bigger teams, especially in the physical Big Ten.
Barbora Tomancova, F/C, 6-2 sophomore
A backup post player, Tomancova had her best game at Illinois when she got significant minutes with Taiye Bello not making the trip, pulling down nine rebounds.
Outlook: Will vie for minutes as a reserve in the frontcourt.
Klarke Sconiers, C, 6-2 sophomore
Played in 17 games, starting two. The New York City product averaged 10.6 minutes and 2.5 points per game. Started against Illinois and scored six points with five rebounds. She was playing her best at the end of the season.
Outlook: Will vie for a starting role in the post.
Justice Ross, F, 6-0 freshman
One of two Gophers freshmen who redshirted in 2019-20. Both were from Des Moines.
Outlook: She will compete for playing time at wing on a team that will be deeper at the position.
Grace Cumming, F, 6-3 freshman
A strong rebounder and shot-blocker in high school in Iowa.
Outlook: She will be given the opportunity to help fill the hole created by the graduation of Taiye and Kehinde Bello.
Kayla Mershon, F/C, 6-3 junior
With help needed in the post, the Gophers are hoping Mershon, a former Minnetonka star who was a part-time starter in two seasons at Nebraska, will be eligible. That could come if she got an eligibility waiver or if the NCAA were to change its rule.
Outlook: She would be a veteran presence with 15 Big Ten starts on her résumé.
Alexia Smith, PG, 5-8 freshman
The 68th-ranked player in the 2020 recruiting class by ESPN’s Hoopgurlz and 20th-ranked at her position, Smith led Columbus Africentric to consecutive Ohio Division III state titles in 2018 and ’19 and was pushing for a third when this spring’s tournament was canceled. The 5-8 Smith is explosive, athletic and able to penetrate to — and finish at — the rim.
Outlook: Much like Powell last season, Smith should see significant playing time from the start.
Erin Hedman, C, 6-3 freshman
Agile in the post, she is a strong rebounder from New Berlin, Wis.
Outlook: Provides more depth at a position the Gophers have been lacking in recently.
Caroline Strande, G, 5-11 freshman
A 5-11 combo guard from Racine, Wis., she is a big-time scorer. She finished her high school career fifth in Wisconsin girls’ basketball history with 2,539 points, averaging 35.3 points and 10.2 rebounds as a senior.
Outlook: Ability to score makes her likely to be a part of Whalen’s rotation.