CoBL Staff (@hooplove215)
(Ed. Note: This article is part of our 2022-23 season coverage, which will run for the six weeks preceding the first official games of the year on Nov. 9. To access all of our high school and college preview content for this season click here)
It’s time to start preparing for another season of hoops.
Yesterday — Monday, Sep. 26 — marked six weeks before the first official games of the 2022-23 Division I season, the first games of the CoBL coverage calendar in what will be our 10th season of operation. As is tradition, that means it’s time to announce our preseason City 6 awards, our picks at which players are set for big seasons ahead, and which under-the-radar players to keep an eye on.
Over the next six weeks, we’ll be running a plethora of season preview content from team previews and player features to in-depth looks at the storylines to follow, games to watch and stats to track this season, from Division I through Division III; our small-college coverage will start with the beginning of their practices on Oct. 15.
Be sure to bookmark our season preview page to keep track of all the content that’s about to hit the site, not to mention the dozens upon dozens of high school previews we’ll be running between Oct. 1 and Dec. 1.
Without further ado, this year’s selections:
Preseason Player of the Year
Maddy Siegrist (Sr. | Villanova)
Villanova senior Maddy Siegrist, the 2021-22 CoBL City 6 Player of the Year is an obvious choice for the CoBL PoTY. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
The reigning CoBL City 6 Player of the Year and Big East Player of the Year is back for at least one more season on the Main Line. After being slowed by an injury to start the season, Siegrist exploded in Big East play and earned herself third team All-American honors. Siegrist led the Wildcats with 25.3 ppg (second in that nation) and 9.2 rpg and did so efficiently, shooting 49.3 percent from the field and 34.6 percent from 3-point range. She averaged 27.9 ppg in Big East play, breaking a conference record dating back to 1991-92. With the Wildcats second leading scorer Lior Garzon (13.1 ppg, 4 rpg) and third leading scorer Brianna Herlihy (10.7 ppg, 8.2 rpg) both gone, there’s a chance the Wildcats somehow will have to lean on Siegrist even more in 2022-23 as they try to make returns to the Big East title game and NCAA Tournament. Siegrist finished last season as the third leading scorer in Wildcats history with 1,815 points and has the chance to continue to climb up the record list as she enters her senior campaign 200 points shy of second place Nancy Bernhardt (1980-84) and 600 back of Shelly Pennefather (1983-87) for the top spot. She scored 684 points last season…
Talya Brugler (So. | St. Joe’s)
Following an impressive debut season on Hawk Hill, Brugler is poised for even bigger things in her sophomore campaign. The 2021-22 Big 5 and Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year led the Hawks with 10.6 ppg and 5.7 rpg last season. She shot 50.4 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3-point range. Brugler was even better in conference play, averaging 12.7 ppg and 7.5 rpg as the Hawks went 7-8 in the A-10. The 2021-22 City 6 second team selection should have ample opportunity for even more production this season. If she and the rest of the sophomore class take another step forward after extended action last season, it could mean big things for St. Joe’s.
Aleah Nelson (Sr. | Temple)
Nelson followed Owls first-year head coach Diane Richardson from Towson to North Philadelphia. Following second team All-Colonial Athletic Association honors with the Tigers as a sophomore in 2020-21, Nelson earned first team all-conference honors as a junior last season, averaging 16.6 ppg, 4.6 apg and 5.3 rpg while shooting 37.7 percent from the field and 33.9 percent from 3-point range.The 5-6 guard also ranked 12th in the country in assist to turnover ratio. Temple has a young core and quite a few new parts joining the mix under a first-year coach, so Nelson’s experience will be leaned on immediately as the Owls try to find a way to replace the production of the program’s all-time leading scorer, Mia Davis.
Kayla Padilla (Sr. | Penn)
Penn's Kayla Padilla is one of four first team All-City 6 players returning this season. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Along with Siegrist, Padilla is one of four CoBL 2021-22 first team selections back playing in the city this season. Padilla was the Ivy League Rookie of the Year and a first team all-conference selection in 2020 before a COVID shutdown of the Ivy League wiped her sophomore campaign. She picked up right where she left off last season, averaging 18.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 4.2 apg on 40.1 percent shooting from the field and 36.8 shooting from 3-point range. The two-time first team All-Ivy League selection was a bright spot for the Quakers during a down year in 2021-22. With another big year from Padilla and several other returning key pieces, she should help Penn right the ship in 2022-23.
Kayla Spruill (Gr. | La Salle)
The word ‘versatile’ is probably a bit overused nowadays in the hoops world, but Spruill truly fits the description. The 6-foot wing/forward averaged 15.9 ppg and 7.1 rpg while shooting 51 percent from the field and 45.9 percent from 3-point range last season and was first team All-City 6 and All-Atlantic 10 selection, following up second team honors in 2020-21. She also led the A-10 in free throw shooting at 86 percent and her percentage from deep ranked fourth in Division I. There’s a good chance Spruill puts together an even better campaign in her graduate year as she’s improved in every season of her career thus far. That would mean good things for the Explorers, who are coming off a strong 2021-22 campaign (16-12 overall, 9-6 A-10).
Keishana Washington (Gr. | Drexel)
The final of the returning CoBL 2021-22 first teamers, Washington is poised for another terrific season to conclude her career in University City after guiding her squad to a program record 28 wins and CAA regular-season title (16-2) a season ago. Washington averaged 19.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg and 2.6 apg on 42.5 percent shooting from the field and 32.4 percent shooting from 3-point range in 2021-22. She boasted a 21.2 scoring average in CAA play, which ranked second in the conference and placed her on the All-CAA first team. Washington is the only starter returning for the Dragons, who don’t return anyone else who averaged more than four points per game, so the 5-7 guard from Canada should be in line for another monster season.
Gabby Crawford (Sr. | La Salle)
From Ole Miss then Morehead State, Crawford arrived at Olney and made an impact in her 16 games on the floor after sitting out the team’s first 10 games. Crawford averaged 11.5 ppg and 5.3 rpg on 40.8 percent shooting as she came off the bench for the Explorers, reaching double figures in 10 of the 16 games she played. It will be fun to see what type of campaign the former Top 100 recruit can put together in a full season at La Salle.
Kendall Currence (Gr. | Temple )
Currence, a graduate transfer from Northeastern, is part of a large group of newcomers joining the Owls this season in head coach Diane Richardson’s first season. She had a breakout season with the Huskies last season, averaging 15.9 ppg and 3.9 rpg, while shooting 42.9 percent from the field and 27 percent from 3-point range to earn first team All-CAA honors. It will be interesting to see how Currence and Nelson fit together in the backcourt, but the talent is certainly there to form a dynamic scoring duo at the guard position for Temple.
Aniya Gourdine (So. | Temple)
Temple sophomore Aniya Gourdine posted the first triple-double in program history last season. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Gourdine did a little bit of everything for the Owls in her freshman season, highlighted by notching the first triple-double in program history. She actually accomplished the feat twice in wins over ECU and Tulsa. Gourdine averaged 7.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg and 4.5 apg on 36.6 percent shooting from the floor and 24.1 percent from three, earning AAC All-Rookie honors. The Owls brought in a large group of transfers, including Currence and Nelson, but Gourdine is positioned for a big sophomore campaign as she should find multiple ways to contribute on a nightly basis even if it isn’t always a monster scoring night.
Katie Jekot (Gr. | St. Joe’s)
Jekot has been a consistent contributor at the point guard spot in her career at St. Joe’s and is now gearing up for her fifth and final season for the Hawks. Last season, she averaged 9.6 ppg on 30.7 percent shooting from the field and 30 percent shooting from 3-point range. She also posted career-highs with 3.6 rpg, 4.8 apg and 1.6 spg as she earned second team All-CoBL honors. With St. Joe’s still relatively young as the Hawks lean on their sophomore class, Jekot’s experience as a two-time captain will be a valuable asset. Her playmaking may also take another leap as most of her supporting cast now has a season of experience to build on.
Jordan Obi (Jr. | Penn)
The final returner from last season’s All-CoBL teams, Obi impressed as a sophomore in her first college action last season after having her freshman season canceled by COVID. Obi averaged 14 ppg and 7.5 rpg, while shooting 40.6 percent from the floor and 28.8 percent from 3-point range last season, also earning second team All-Ivy League honors. Obi totaled seven double-doubles last season, which ranked second in the conference. She reached double figures in 15 of the Quakrs’ final 16 games and scored 15+ in seven of their final nine contests. With some collegiate experience finally under her belt, she’s primed for even more this season.
Lucy Olsen (So. | Villaova)
After starting all 33 games for Villanova as freshman last season, the Wildcats’ point guard is positioned to step into the No. 2 role in the offense behind Siegrist with the team’s other top scorers gone from last season. Olsen averaged 7 ppg, 2.7 rpg and 2.7 apg and shot 37.2 percent from the field and 30.7 percent from 3-point range in her debut season to earn Big East All-Rookie Team honors. Expect a significant jump in those numbers for Olsen this season as the Wildcats attempt to put together another NCAA Tournament appearance. She had double-digit shot attempts in both tournament games last, a sign she won’t be afraid to relish a larger role this season.
Honorable Mention: Jasha Clinton (So. | Temple), Claire Jacobs (Sr. | La Salle), Maura Hendrixson (Gr. | Drexel), Molly Masciantonio (Gr. | La Salle), Brooke Mullin (Sr. | Villanova), Mackenzie Smith (So. | Saint Joseph’s)
Preseason Breakthrough Player
Jasmine Valentine (Jr. | Drexel)
The Dragons graduated the majority of their rotation, so opportunity will be ripe it’s just a matter of who grabs it. After playing in 32 games as a sophomore, Valentine is a prime candidate to be one of the players to take a major jump in responsibilities heading into her junior campaign. Valentine averaged 2.1 ppg and 2.5 rpg in 11.1 minutes per contest, but saw extended action in the postseason. She scored seven points on 3-of-5 shooting and grabbed five boards in 17 minutes during a WNIT second-round win over Bucknell and added four points and three boards in 25 minutes in a season-ending loss to Seton Hall.
Honorable Mention: Talya Brugler (So. | St. Joe’s), Maddie Burke (Jr. | Villanova), Lizzy Greoetsch (So. | Penn), Floor Toonders (Jr. | Penn), Jaden Walker (Sr. | St. Joe’s)