Transfers have become commonplace in women’s college basketball, and in the best circumstances, it works out well for both the player and the program. Transfers in their first seasons with a new squad have made quite an impact in the 2020-21 season — ranging from graduate students and seniors bringing experience to sophomores who have found a better fit. We rank 10 of the best transfer newcomers and look at how they’ve elevated their teams as the regular season winds down.
1. Destiny Slocum, Arkansas, guard
She played one season at Maryland, two at Oregon State and is now a senior with the Razorbacks. Sunday, Slocum had one of her best games of the season in Arkansas’ 74-64 victory at LSU, with 29 points on 11 of 15 shooting from the field. For the season, she is averaging 15.6 points and 3.9 assists, and combines with Chelsea Dungee and Amber Ramirez to create a backcourt that could cause a lot of problems for NCAA tournament opponents.
2. Shakira Austin, Ole Miss, forward/center
The 6-foot-5 junior joined a team that had no SEC wins last season. Ole Miss has three league victories in 2020-21, and has been competitive in most of its losses. Austin is averaging 17.4 point and 8.6 rebounds; the 3-pointer is something she can add for next season to make her even harder to guard. Ole Miss won’t be an NCAA tournament team this year, but Austin gives the Rebels hope to reach March Madness next season.
3. Kierstan Bell, Florida Gulf Coast, guard
The 6-1 Bell was on the all-Big Ten freshman team with Ohio State last year, and is now the highest-rated recruit — No. 8 by ESPN HoopGurlz in the class of 2019 — to play for the Eagles. She is averaging 25.2 points and 11.2 rebounds, and is coming off games of 36 and 42 points this weekend in victories at Jacksonville. FGCU is riding an 18-game winning streak; the only games the Eagles have lost — vs. ranked teams Missouri State and Arkansas in November — were before Bell became eligible. Bell’s teammate, guard TK Morehouse, also merits mention in her first season at FGCU; the junior-college transfer is averaging 18.3 PPG and 3.6 APG.
4. Katie Benzan, Maryland, guard
After three years as an all-Ivy League performer for Harvard, Benzan brought instant offense to the Terrapins. She is averaging 15.2 PPG and is shooting 51.1 percent from long range, leading Maryland with 68 3-pointers. Benzan also has 56 assists and 26 steals — second on the team in both categories to Ashley Owusu — and just 20 turnovers, the least of any of the Terp starters.
5. Chloe Bibby, Maryland, forward/guard
A senior from Australia, she spent her first three seasons at Mississippi State, although an ACL injury cut short her 2018-19 season. Bibby is averaging 14.4 points and 6.8 rebounds, and her 40 3-pointers are second on the team to Benzan. With Maryland having lost all but Owusu from its starting five last year due to graduation and transfers, Benzan and Bibby, along with another transfer, sophomore Mimi Collins, have Maryland in the hunt again for the Big Ten title.
6. Evina Westbrook, UConn, guard
On such a young team that includes seven freshmen, it has helped the No. 1-ranked Huskies to have a redshirt junior in Westbrook to bring a sense of calm and experience. That’s a role she has been glad to take. After two years at Tennessee and then sitting out last season, the 6-0 Westbrook has started all 19 games and is averaging 9.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.7 assists.
7. DiJonai Carrington, Baylor, guard
She’s the third graduate transfer guard in a row to work out well for Baylor, following 2019 Women’s Final Four most outstanding player Chloe Jackson and Te’a Cooper. Carrington ranks second for the Lady Bears in scoring (13.0) despite coming off the bench, and is the best 3-point shooter (25 of 77) on a team that doesn’t shoot much from long range. She’s averaging 4.5 rebounds, has a team-high 34 steals and has become one of the Big 12’s top defenders.
8. Kianna Smith, Louisville, guard
She spent her first two seasons at Cal and sat out last season; the 6-0 Smith is now filling a similar role to what current WNBA player Jazmine Jones did the past few years for the Cardinals. Averaging 11.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists, Smith has been an asset on both ends of the court for Louisville.
9. Raina Perez, NC State, guard
With Aislinn Konig lost to graduation, Perez stepped right in to help direct the reigning ACC tournament champions. She started her career at Northern Arizona, then was Big West player of the year at Cal State Fullerton and now is a senior with the Wolfpack, where she is averaging 9.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and a team-high 5.1 assists.
10. Jordan Nixon, guard, Texas A&M
It’s hard to stand out on a team with so much guard depth, but Nixon has done it by being the Aggies’ most consistent playmaker (averaging 3.3 APG) and having a knack for hitting big shots (she had game-winners in both victories over Arkansas). Nixon, who played her freshman season at Notre Dame, then sat out last year after transferring to Texas A&M, is averaging 8.8 points for a team that Charlie Creme has moving up to the No. 1 seed line in Bracketology.
Also considered: Trinity Baptiste, Arizona; Vivian Gray, Texas Tech; Bianca Jackson, Florida State; Taylor Mikesell, Oregon; Destiny Pitts, Texas A&M)
Player of the week: Aleah Goodman, Oregon State
With Oregon State’s NCAA tournament hopes on the line, the senior guard led the way in helping the Beavers get two important wins on the road. She had 17 points, four assists and four rebounds Friday in beating USC 77-52. Then on Sunday, she had 20 points, seven rebounds and nine assists in a 71-64 upset of No. 8 UCLA. Oregon State is 8-6 overall and 6-6 in the Pac-12.
Shout-outs to Florida Gulf Coast’s Kierstan Bell, with a combined 78 points and 27 rebounds in two victories over Jacksonville; South Dakota State’s Tylee Irwin, with a combined 56 points in two victories over North Dakota State; and NC State’s Jakia Brown-Turner, with a combined 46 points in wins over Wake Forest and North Carolina.
Team of the week: South Florida
The No. 12 Bulls got victories over Cincinnati and Tulane to move to 13-1, which ties their best start in program history. Senior forward Bethy Mununga had a combined 36 points and 31 rebounds in those two games.
They had a month-long COVID-19 break; after playing Jan. 13, they didn’t return to action until Feb. 13. Coach Jose Fernandez said he’s starting to see the team South Florida was before the layoff come back now. The Bulls’ only loss was to Baylor, 67-62, on Dec. 1.
“We’ve got a great bunch,” Fernandez said of a team that has players from eight different countries other than the United States. “We’ve had a lot of very good teams, but I couldn’t be prouder of this group, with everything that’s going on around the country and us doing what we’re doing right now.”
Coach of the week: Brooke Wyckoff, Florida State
It’s not easy being in an interim role, especially when it’s because your mentor and friend is taking care of an ill relative. But that’s what the former Seminoles star and longtime assistant coach Wyckoff is doing this season, with head coach Sue Semrau spending time with her mother, who is recovering from ovarian cancer. Sunday, the Seminoles got their biggest victory in 2020-21, knocking off No. 3 Louisville 68-59, a high point in a challenging season. The Seminoles are now 9-6 overall, 8-6 in the ACC, and 7-1 at home.
Win of the week: Florida State
Coming off a 62-48 loss to Georgia Tech at home on Thursday, the Seminoles might not have seemed a good bet to upset the No. 3 team in the country Sunday. But Florida State seems to have had Louisville’s number in recent years, having won six of the previous eight matchups. That includes twice last year: in the regular-season game at Louisville and in the ACC tournament semifinals.
Sunday, the Seminoles made it seven of the last nine by forcing Louisville guard Dana Evans into the most missed shots of her career; she was 5-of-21 from the field. Florida State guard Morgan Jones led the way with 26 points and 10 rebounds.