Naismith Watch: College Freshmen Making Push

Naismith Watch: College Freshmen Making Push
Te'a Cooper

The Naismith Watch provides readers with a heads up on the nation’s top collegiate players. This installment focuses on three freshmen who are making a push to be featured in the initial Watch List release next month.

Te’a Cooper, 5-7, PG, Tennessee

After being named First-Team Naismith High School All-American last season as a high school senior, Cooper walked in the door of Thompson-Boiling Arena and has made an immediate impact. Through four games, she’s averaging 12.5 points and 3.8 assists per game for the nation’s No. 8 ranked team. Her assist-to-turnover ratio will be worth keeping an eye on as that stat could determine just how successful the Lady Vols are down the stretch this season.

Next Notable Matchup: November 29th vs Texas


Sophie Cunningham, 6-0, SF, Missouri

From Missouri’s opening tip, Cunningham has been locked and loaded. She’s averaged 21.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.8 steals per contest. In the process, Cunningham has the Tigers sitting pretty at 4-0 including their most recent win over ACC foe Wake Forest. In that game Cunningham poured in 42 points after being named SEC Freshman of the Week before that. Don’t be surprised at all to see the former McDonald’s All-American win the award again next week and again a couple more times before conference play tips in January.

Next Notable Matchup: December 12th at Colorado


Jessica Shepard, 6-2, PF, Nebraska

Shepard suffered a season-ending knee injury around the holidays last year. She has bounced right back posting video game like numbers in the Huskers’ first four games, tabulating averages of 23.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per contest. In doing so, Shepard led coach Connie Yori’s team to four victories. Because of her play Shepard has been named Big 10 Freshman of the Week in consecutive weeks. She’s got a marquee battle with Breanna Stewart, who is projected by as the No. 1 pick in the 2016 WNBA Draft, coming up this weekend.

Next Notable Matchup: November 28th vs UConn

Brandon Clay serves as the WNBA Director of Scouting for and owns The International Report, which is picked up by more than 150 colleges and universities nationwide. He serves as the Executive Camp Director for the Elite Basketball Academy Camps. He serves on the Naismith Trophy Men’s / Women’s College Player of the Year Academy and is chairman of the HS Boys / Girls Board of Selectors.

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