A “ticket-selling” player is not necessarily an All-American or a team’s star, but rather someone who brings energy and passion to the court; they make the game exciting. Some players have the ability to score the ball well, while others stand out because of their athleticism.
There were many viable candidates to land on our list, but these eight players will make new fans, and will satisfy the always-loyal women’s basketball community. These are players that fans will pack the arena to watch.
Kristine Angiwe Cal, 6-4, forward/center, senior
A three-time WBCA All-America honorable mention and one of Cal’s all-time leading scorers, the accolades are endless for the Phoenix native. Angiwe missed the end of the 2017-18 season with an undisclosed injury, and had to watch Virginia eliminate her team in the NCAA Tournament first round. An ultra-athletic player, Angiwe is a nightmare match up, and dropped 37 points and snatching 13 rebounds in the Bears’ season opener vs Houston. It is clear that she is determined to put the squad on her shoulders this season. However, Angiwe won’t have to do it alone, as Cal added graduate transfer Receé Caldwell and McDonald’s All-American McKenzie Forbes, and will have more options surrounding Angiwe when teams double her in the post. This makes the Bears one of the most slept-on teams in the country this season.
Allazia Blockton Marquette, 6-0, guard, senior
The reigning Big East Player of the Year, Blockton does a little bit of everything for the Marquette Eagles. The Milwaukee native can score, rebound, and drop dimes, and she shot nearly 52 percent from the field last year, including just over 39 percent from behind the three-point line. Marquette returns nearly everyone from last season’s team, which was eventually bounced in the second of the NCAA Tournament by the Louisville Cardinals, who went on to the Final Four. Blockson was tabbed the Big East preseason player of the year, and Marquette was named the favorite to win conference, so expectations are high for both. If the Eagles want to have a successful season and make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament this year, Blockton will have to lead the charge.
Sophie Cunningham Missouri, 6-1, guard, senior
A first round exit in last year’s NCAA Tournament surely has not set well with Cunningham and the Tigers this offseason. Missouri lost two of its leading scorers from last year, and will lack size in the post this season, but Cunningham is capable of carrying the load. The four-year starter from Columbia, Missouri does it all, averaging 16.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.1 assists throughout her collegiate career. Last year she averaged 18.5 points and shot 54 percent from the floor and 46 percent from deep. It’s not only her versatility that makes her exciting to watch, but the energy and passion that she brings to the court. A true competitor, Cunningham should compete with Teaira McCowan of Mississippi State for SEC Player of the Year. She is no doubt the heart of her team, and will surely give fans a show they won’t forget.
Arike Ogunbowale Notre Dame, 5-8, guard, senior
Ogunbowale has been selling tickets for a long time, and her resume only got longer last season when she hit two consecutive game winners to power Notre Dame to the National Championship. The Irish had been decimated by injuries during the year, but Ogunbowale stepped up again and again the fill the gap. Despite usually drawing the opponent’s best defender, she still managed to average over 20 points a game, dish out 105 assists (she had 110 in her first two seasons combined), and grab 204 rebounds. The spotlight will be on her in her senior campaign, as she tries to lead No. 1 Notre Dame to a repeat title.
Leaonna Odom Duke, 6-2, guard/forward, junior
The Lompoc, California native’s skill set is off the charts, as she is able to play the one through four positions. With her long and athletic frame, Odom is able to cause havoc on the defensive end of the court while creating mismatches on the offensive side. With her ability to score from every area and get out into transition, as well as clean up the boards, Odom’s game is smooth. In Duke’s three games of the 2018 NCAA Tournament, she averaged 21 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. She has improved every yearm and will lead the Blue Devil attack this season. Odom is one to watch; she has the chance to be special.
Destiny Slocum Oregon State, 5-7, guard, redshirt sophomore
The 2017 WBCA freshmen of the year sat out last year after transferring from Maryland. There, the Meridian, Idaho native averaged 11.5 points, 6 assists and 3 rebounds per contest. Slocum was known for her ability to see the court and to knock down big shots when the Terps needed the most. Her most notorious shot was her ¾ court dagger vs. West Virginia in the NCAA Tournament. Though the smallest player on the Oregon State roster, Slocum brings high energy and a lot of personality to the court. She is a true leader, and will be instrumentally in the Beaver’s run through the Pac-12 and into the Big Dance.
Destiny Pitts Minnesota, 5-10, guard, sophomore
First-year head coach Lindsay Whalen has to be excited to have the 2018 unanimous Big Ten freshman of the year on her squad. Pitts is tough, and doesn’t mind doing work on the boards. The Detroit, Michigan native averaged 7.2 rebounds and 13.3 points per game last year and is a natural leader, sees the floor and has a high basketball IQ. She does a little bit of everything for the Gophers, and her skill will help give the team multiple options on the court. Even more exciting is that she has room – and time – to grow.
Zarielle Green Tennessee, 6-0, guard, freshman
Tennessee liked what they got from Duncanville High School product Tamika Catchings, and are hoping that another signee from that school, Zarielle Green, will helped lead the Lady Vols back to the Final Four for the first time since 2008. Green originally committed to the Kansas Jayhawks, but changed her mind. She will add more size, speed, and athleticism to an already-talented Tennessee back court, but she also brings a scoring punch that the eight-time National Champions desperately need. A high-energy player and the ultimate competitor, Green plays both sides of the court – a rare commodity for a freshman. The Lady Vols have to be pleased from what they saw from the Dallas, Texas native in their lone exhibition game Nov. 5, where she netted 28 points on 10-17 shooting, and snatched 10 rebounds and 3 steals. Green has the talent to not only compete for SEC freshmen of the year, but national freshmen of the year.