Joey Piatt (@joey_piatt)
There’s been quite a bit of moving and shaking in the City 6 over the last few weeks, with coaching changes, transfers, signings, and more. Here’s a roundup of the recent action on the WBB side:
Diane Richardson’s staff takes shape ahead of her first season
The Diane Richardson era is fully under way for Temple women’s basketball. Things are starting to take shape, with Richardson hiring a trio of assistant coaches over the past month. All three coaches — Cheyenne Curley, Myles Jackson, and Zach Kancher — follow Richardson from Towson University, where she was the head coach for five years.
Curley served as an assistant under Richardson’s staff for three seasons. The former Howard University point guard served as Towson’s director of basketball operations prior to her promotion. Jackson succeeded Curley as the director of basketball operations at Towson before earning an assistant role ahead of last season. Kancher, who served as associate head coach on Richardson’s staff at Towson but got his coaching start at the Shipley School in the mid-00s, will fill the same role with the Owls.
Richardson rounded out her basketball staff with the hirings of Jasmine Allen and Aaron Thomas. Allen will fill the role of director of basketball operations, one she held last season with Richardson’s staff at Towson, and Thomas will join as video coordinator.
Temple adds five and loses two in flurry of offseason transfer portal moves
Just days after Richardson finished assembling her coaching staff, the Owls’ new coach brought in a quintet of transfers, including three from her former program.
The first of the transfers, Tarriyonna Gary, follows Richardson over from Towson. In her second year with Towson, Gary started all but three games and averaged 8.2 points per game on the back of .363 shooting from beyond the arc.
She’s not the only former Tiger who’s coming to Temple; on Wednesday, the Owls’ social media accounts announced the transfer of 6-foot-1 forward Rayne Tucker, a day after they announced 5-6 guard Aleah Nelson. Nelson, a first-team all-CAA selection who began her career at Cincinnati before playing two years at Towson, averaged 16.6 ppg, 5.1 apg and 4.5 rpg; Tucker averaged 6.0 ppg and 5.5 rpg in 26 games (18 starts) in her only year at Towson after two seasons at James Madison, where she averaged 10.3 ppg as a sophomore in 2020-21.
Gary and Tucker are joined in this transfer class by Denise Solis and Kendall Currence. Solis arrives at Broad Street by way of UMass-Lowell, where she was an every-game starter. The 6-1 forward has two years of eligibility. Currence comes to the Owls after finishing four seasons at Northeastern University. This past season was Currence’s first as a full-time starter, and the Bourne, Mass. native averaged 15.9 points per game in 27 starts.
Gary, Solis, and Currence will help Richardson replace forwards Alexa Williamson and Kyra Wood, both of whom transferred from Temple in the past month. Williamson, who averaged 8.2 ppg and 5.0 rpg, will continue her career at Penn State and Wood will head to upstate New York to suit up for Syracuse.
Katie Jekot (above) will be returning to Hawk Hill for her final year of eligibility. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Jekot announces one final ride on Hawk Hill; Hawks sign Danish forward
Saint Joseph’s will retain two-time captain and two-time Philadelphia Big 5 second-team honoree Katie Jekot for one final season. The 5-foot-9 point guard has been a centerpiece in the Hawks’ offense since the 2018-2019 season, in which she started 25 games.
Since then, Jekot has started every single one of Saint Joseph’s games and has been the team’s undisputed floor general. This past season, she averaged 9.6 ppg, second-best on the team, and was third in the league in assists per game (4.8).
"I'm super excited and thankful that I get the opportunity to play another year at Saint Joseph's," Jekot said in a statement released by the program. "I'm coming back because it is an amazing opportunity for me to be a leader on a great team. I love my coaches and teammates and I am looking forward to a great season!"
After recording 70 assists last season, Jekot dished out 116 from the point this year; she also has 153 career 3-pointers, and is 67-of-209 (.320) from deep over the last two seasons. Her return will help the Hawks in their quest to bounce back from a disappointing 13-17 (7-8 Atlantic 10) season that ended without a trip to the postseason.
In addition to Jekot’s return, the Hawks also announced the addition of 6-2 forward Laura Ziegler, a native of Herlev, Denmark, who will be a freshman this fall. A member of the Danish National Team program since she was 13 years old, Ziegler played for IK Eos Lund in the highest level of Swedish basketball last year, averaging 12.0 ppg and 7.0 rpg.
Ziegler’s arrival will help offset the departure of Laila Fair, who transferred from Saint Joseph’s to UMass last month. The 6-1 forward from New Jersey averaged 8.6 ppg and 4.7 rpg last year, scoring 65 points over the final four games.
Pair of Drexel seniors return for another year
Keishana Washington and Maura Hendrixson will be on the floor of the Daskalakis Athletic Center once again, as the pair of Drexel women’s basketball seniors are returning for their last seasons and a chance to rebound from a disappointing end to the 2021-2022 season.
Washington was the team’s most prolific scorer this season, averaging 19.2 points per game. Hendrixson appeared mostly off the bench, appearing in 28 games and drawing three starts. The Cardinal O’Hara product averaged 3.4 points and 3.3 rebounds per game this past season.
The Dragons are coming off a season that saw them go 28-6 (16-2 CAA), reaching the NIT Quarterfinals after losing to archrival Delaware in the CAA championship game. With four other key seniors exhausting their eligibility, the return of Washington and Hendrixson will be crucial for a young, inexperienced squad under third-year head coach Amy Mallon.
Villanova adds sharpshooter Burke from Penn State
Maddie Burke will hope to return to her freshman form with a change of scenery. After earning Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year and Big All-Freshman Team honors, Burke averaged just 2.8 points per game this season and didn’t start a single game for the Nittany Lions. A major part of Burke’s game as a freshman was shooting from beyond the arc, where she ranked 38th in the nation with 58 made threes.
The Doylestown native and Central Bucks West grad will also be returning home to join Denise Dillon’s Wildcats program, which saw its season stretch into the second round of this year’s NCAA Tournament.
The Wildcats also picked up a verbal commitment this week from Sparta (N.J.) 2023 wing Brynn McCurry, who helped the Spartans to a Group 3 state championship this winter, their first in 21 years. According to the school’s Twitter account, McCurry is also the school’s recent record-setter at javelin.
Explorers see a trio transfer
According to WBB recruiting and transfer expert @Raoul_000, who runs WBBlog.com, La Salle has had three players hit the transfer portal: freshman Kenya Cote-Lysius, junior Christina Kline and sophomore Michelle Kozicki.
All three were valuable reserves for head coach Mountain MacGillivray last year: Cote-Lysius, a 5-8 point guard from Quebec, averaged 3.1 ppg in 17.7 minutes; Kline, a 5-10 guard from Florida, averaged 2.6 ppg in 8.5 minutes; Kozicki, a 6-0 forward from Wilmington (Del.), averaged 2.2 ppg in 8.0 minutes. All appeared in at least 24 of the Explorers’ 28 games.