Michelle Smith: Evaluating some of Pac-12 women's basketball's most improved players in 2021-22
From bench to starter. From role player to go-to player. What defines improvement? An increase in playing time, points, rebounds, all of the above? There are plenty making the jump in terms of their impact on Pac-12 teams this season, and the seven below are some of the players lining up to be considered among the league’s most improved in 2021-22.
Shaina Pellington, Arizona
In 2020-21, Pellington's first season of eligibility after transferring to Arizona from Oklahoma, she played in all 27 games last season, primarily coming in off the bench as the backup to Aari McDonald. Pellington showed her potential in the national championship game, scoring 15 points, pulling down seven rebounds and collecting three steals. In her new role as a starter this season, the senior is firmly entrenched in the Wildcats' starting lineup and has become a tone-setter as well as the team’s floor general. In addition to averaging 10.3 points a game, Pellington is shooting nearly 47 percent from the floor, has bumped her free-throw shooting percentage to 63 percent and has had five double-figure games in the last eight, including a 28-point performance against Colorado.
Hannah Jump, Stanford
Jump came to Stanford as a 3-point shooting specialist in the mold of Bonnie and Karlie Samuelson and, like the Samuelson sisters, she has become much more than that for the deep Cardinal. Jump, a junior wing, played in all 32 games off the bench last season, averaging 6.7 points per game. This season, Jump has started 12 games and is averaging 11.5 points a game, shooting 42 percent from beyond the arc and leads the Pac-12 with 59 3-pointers. She has put up double-digit scoring totals in 10 of her last 13 games and her ability to spread the floor has made life much easier inside for Cameron Brink and Fran Belibi, who are both playing as well as they have in their careers.
Johanna Teder, Washington State
The junior guard from Estonia has continued the WSU tradition of talented offensive players from abroad with a strong season that only appears to be building momentum. Starting with the 20 points she put up against USC on January 14, Teder has been in double figures in six of her last eight games, averaging 12.8 points as the Cougars have gone 5-3. Teder has drained 40 3-pointers, putting her third in the league. She is averaging 10.1 points a game, second on the team behind sophomore Charlisse Leger-Walker, after averaging 7.1 points a game last season.
Jordyn Jenkins, USC
Jenkins, the sophomore forward from Washington, averaged 6.3 points a game as a part-time starter for the Trojans last season. She is having a breakout sophomore season under Lindsay Gottlieb, averaging 14.7 points and 6.3 rebounds, including 12 straight games in double figures. Jenkins is averaging 22.5 points a game over her last three games, including a 46-point weekend against Stanford and Cal.
Sydney Parrish, Oregon
The sophomore guard from Indiana has been a steadying presence in the lineup during this injury-impacted season for the Ducks. Parrish appeared in 23 of 24 games last season as a true freshman, with two starts, averaging 6.0 points and 2.7 rebounds a game. This season, Parrish, who has made 22 starts, is averaging 9.5 points and has had three games in which she has scored at least 20 points. Her offensive numbers have tailed off since Nyara Sabally, Endyia Rogers and Te-Hina Paopao have returned to the lineup, but Parrish is a potent perimeter shooter when she gets hot and will help the Ducks down the stretch of the season.
Quay Miller, Colorado
The junior center who played last season at Washington has been a key player for the Buffaloes on both sides of the ball. Miller averaged 9.9 points and 6.0 rebounds a game for the Huskies last season and has upped her production for JR Payne, averaging 11.7 points with 12 games in double figures. Last weekend against her former team, Miller came in off the bench and finished with 18 points in 19 minutes. She averaged 15.0 points a game last season in the Pac-12 Tournament and the Buffaloes have to be hoping for a late-season surge from Miller in a few short weeks as they make their NCAA Tournament push.
Evelien Lutje Schipholt, Cal
In a difficult season for the Bears, freshman Jayda Curry has been a bright spot as the Pac-12’s leading scorer, but Lutje Schipholt has also been a big contributor. The 6-foot-2 junior from The Netherlands, has started all 16 games, is second on the team in scoring at 10.3 points, leads the team with 7.8 rebounds per game, and is sixth in the Pac-12 in blocked shots with 23. Lutje Schipholt averaged 7.1 points a game last season.