Michelle Smith Feature: Introducing 10 Pac-12 women's basketball freshmen

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The Thanksgiving tournament season is here, time for teams around the Pac-12 to hit the road and face some of their toughest competition of the non-conference schedule. For veteran players, this is a routine they know well – the travel, the back-to-back-to-back games, even the time spend in the sunshine with teammates making memories in places such as the Caribbean, Hawai'i and Mexico.

But for the freshmen, the first-year players who making up the freshest pool of talent in the conference, this will be just another new experience as a college basketball player.

The youngest players in the Pac-12 are a diverse group of positions, experience and talent. They are already making an impact as the momentum of the season picks up.

Let’s meet 10 of the Pac-12’s premier members of the Class of 2022.

ARIZONA
Cate Reese, Cypress Texas, Forward
Reese came to Tucson as the first McDonald’s All-American in program history and the highest-ranked recruit in school history. Reese is already making her presence known with a pair of 21-point scoring games and is averaging 16.3 points a game. Wildcats head coach Adia Barnes has called her “a fearless player” and the kind of aggressive, confident player she wants to build the program around.

ARIZONA STATE
Taya Hanson, British Columbia, Guard
Hanson, who has played on the Canadian National Team since 2015, comes to Tempe as an experienced international player who averaged 11.5 points and 4.8 rebounds in the FIBA U18 Championships. She had a strong debut game at ASU, putting up 14 points against Incarnate Word. Hanson has veteran players to learn from as she settles into her college career.

COLORADO
Peanut Tuitele, Chico, Calif., Forward
Tuitele, the 6-foot-1 power forward, is coming off the bench to give the Buffaloes a great spark inside. She is currently leading Colorado in rebounding at 8.7 rebounds per game. Tuitele brings energy to the floor that is impressing coach J.R. Payne, who said, “She can do everything.” Looks like she will get an early opportunity to show it.

OREGON STATE
Jasmine Simmons, Australia, Guard
The Australian guard, who has a significant amount of international experience, is learning the ropes behind the Beavers’ deep backcourt, but has already shown potential with seven points and four assists in 18 minutes against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on November 14. Simmons, who is 5-foot-11 as a shooting guard, said she loves playing defense and rebounding, which makes the Beavers a very good fit. 

STANFORD
Lexie Hull, Spokane, Wash., Forward
Hull, who came to Stanford with her twin sister Lacie to play for Tara VanDerveer, was rated the 14th best player in the country out of high school and the two-time Washington State Player of the Year. Her impact has been immediate. She has started all three Stanford games to date, and is averaging an impressively consistent 10.7 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. She is currently the Cardinal’s leading rebounder. Hull is proving to be a strong inside complement to Alanna Smith. 

WASHINGTON
TT Watkins, Walnut, Calif., Guard
Watkins, a versatile wing player who came to the Huskies as one of the top 20 players in California, showed her potential on November 11 against Northern Arizona when she put up 11 points and three steals. She is averaging 7.0 points a game in the early part of the season.

UCLA
Lindsay Corsaro, Indianapolis, Guard
Corsaro is a redshirt freshman, after missing most of the last two years with injuries and receiving a NCAA waiver. The 2016 McDonald’s All-American from Indiana is on the floor full-time for the first time, working to fill some of the scoring void left by the graduation of Jordin Canada. Corsaro is averaging 11.0 points a game thus far for the Bruins. Bruins coach Cori Close has praised Corsaro’s work ethic and coachability.

USC
Shalexxus Aaron, Apple Valley, Calif., Guard
Aaron, a redshirt freshman whose brother Shaqquan plays for the USC men’s basketball team, broke out on Saturday against Santa Clara with 20 points, including a 5-for-6 effort from the 3-point line and a 6-for-6 effort from the free-throw line to push the Women of Troy to a 4-0 start. Aaron sat out last season while recovering from a knee injury, but is ready to make up for lost time.

UTAH
Dre Edwards, Las Vegas, Forward
Edwards, one of the top players out of the state of Nevada, has made an early first impression, with a double-double in her first college game in the opening week, it was the first time since 2010 that a Utah freshman opened her career with a double-double. She has been named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week after the first two weeks of the season, and is averaging 11.3 points and 8.0 rebounds a game. She said she learned toughness by playing against her older brothers.

Dru Gylten, Rapid City, S.D., Guard
Glyten, who was a four-time state champion in high school, is averaging 5.5 assists a game to go with 9.5 points, scoring in double digits in two of the Utes’ first four games. Gylten missed her first collegiate season with a knee injury and redshirted, waiting for her opportunity to play. Gylten has posted six or more assists in each game she’s played thus far. Her assists total ranks her fourth in the Pac-12 and in the top 5 nationally.

Michelle Smith is a contributing writer for pac-12.com. She has covered pro and college sports for espnW, the San Francisco Chronicle and AOL Fanhouse. For previous Michelle Smith features on pac-12.com, visit the archives page.

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