Jared Leveson (@jared_leveson)
Nearly a month into the college basketball season, Philadelphia has already shown why many describe it as the country’s best college basketball city. The City 6 is always loaded with talented players from Philadelphia and elsewhere who make huge impacts for their respective teams.
So far, not one program has distinguished themselves from the rest of the pack as the better squad. But these six players, men and women, have started off 2022-2023 on the right foot and are hoping to continue their success as conference play is right around the corner.
Maddy Siegrist (Villanova)
The nation's leading scorer, Maddy Siegrist is off to her typical dominance. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
The 6-foot-1 senior forward is starting 2022-2023 on fire. Siegrist cannot be stopped on the offensive end as she is the country’s leading scorer. The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) native is averaging 27.4 ppg through the Wildcat’s first seven contests, helping her team to a 6-1 overall record. Last year’s Big East Player of the year is also contributing on the glass, averaging 10.1 rpg.
On November 27, she scored her 2,000th career point in a win over USF (7-2) at the Gulf Coast Showcase, becoming the third person in program history to do so. Shelly Pennefather (2,408 points, 1983-87) and Nancy Bernhardt (2,018 points, 1980-84) welcomed Siegrist into the elite club, and she’s on pace to pass both of them by season’s end — and she has a year of eligibility left, if she chooses to use it.
Siegrist’s most impressive performance so far was in Villanova’s 74-71 win over Temple. The double-double machine finished the game with 16 rebounds and a season-high 41 points after shooting 14-25 from the field. Siegrist fell just short of her career highs in points (42) and rebounds (17). The forward’s offensive play and rebounding effort helped the Wildcats erase a 12-point deficit and secure the victory.
Keishana Washington (Drexel)
Washington is hot on Siegrist’s tail for the nation’s leading scorer title, averaging 26.7 points per game, tied with Caitlin Clark (Iowa) and Aneesah Morrow (DePaul) for second behind Siegrist. A 2021-2022 CAA first-team selection, Washington is continuing her dominance. The Pickering, Ontario native’s offensive production has propelled the Dragons (5-1) to a hot start this season as they look to avenge their CAA Championship game loss.
The 2021-2022 first-team All-Philly honoree scored 30+ points in three contests this year. Washington has 34 points in a season-opening win versus Rider (2-3), a season-high 37 points in a 66-61 win over the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (1-6), and a 33-point performance in a 23-point victory over Lehigh.
Despite losing quite a bit of offensive production from the 2021-2022 season, the Dragons got picked to finish first in the CAA. Drexel got 10-first place votes due in large part to Washington, their only returning starter; the Durham Prep product was named CAA Preseason Player of the Year after averaging 19.2 ppg and 2.6 apg during the 2021-2022 campaign.
Amari Williams (Drexel)
Amari Williams (above) has become Drexel's leading scorer and rebounder as a junior. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Questions about Williams' expanded role dominated Drexel's CAA media day press-conference. The Drexel Dragons (4-4) lost 60% of their offensive production from the previous season. With the departure of big-men James Butler, Williams has fulfilled those expectations. The 6-10 forward is averaging a career-high 16.1 points per game while playing an average of 28.1 minutes per game.
The Nottingham, England native also leads the Dragons in several statistical categories. Williams leads the Dragons in field goal percentage (53.8%), rebounds per game (7.9), blocks (12), and steals (14).
So far, Williams has shined brightest in Drexel’s season opener against Old Dominion. The sports management major played a season-high 32 minutes, one minute shy of his career high, and registered a 14-point and 11-rebound double-double in the 71-59 win.
Laura Ziegler (Saint Joseph’s)
Ziegler’s play has helped the Hawks (6-0) get off to their best start in more than a decade. The 6-2 forward has started every game for the Hawks this season and recently earned Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week honors for the third consecutive week.
Before playing ball at Hagan Arena, Ziegler played for IK Eos Lund in Sweden’s highest professional basketball division. In the 2021-2022 season, she averaged 12 points and seven rebounds per game. The transition to Division I basketball has not been difficult for Ziegler.
The Danish forward is averaging 11.5 points and 8.0 rebounds per game, shooting 43% from the floor and 32.1% (9-of-28) from 3-point arc, a terrific complement to Talya Brugler (13.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg). Ziegler leads the teams in rebounds per game and recorded double-digit figures in scoring five of the Hawks’ first six games.
Jordan Dingle (Penn)
Jordan Dingle (above) is averaging more than 20 ppg for the second consecutive season. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
The junior guard has been the Quakers’ (5-5) most consistent bright spot during 2022-2023. So far this season, the 2021-2022 first-team All-Ivy selection is the Quaker’s leading scorer, averaging 21.9 ppg. He is also finding his teammates for open shots, averaging 2.4 apg.
This past weekend, during the first-ever Cathedral Classic at the Palestra, Dingle dominated his opponents. The 2021-2022 First Team All Big-5 honoree helped Penn secure the title on their home floor. In the semi-final against defending Patriot League champion Colgate, Dingle poured in 26 points while shooting 10-16 from the field.
In the Cathedral Classic Championship game against the Delaware Blue Hens, last season’s CAA champions, Dingle had another strong performance, scoring 22 points and shooting 7-15 from the field; tthe Blair Academy product also recorded a season-high four assists in the win.
Kylie Lavelle (Drexel)
Hailing from Moosic, Pa., Lavelle has found her stride early on in her collegiate career because of her ability to get open and knock down shots. Paired with Washington, Lavelle’s early offensive production has silenced many doubts about the Dragon’s ability to replace all that their offensive production gone from their 2021-2022 CAA runner-up squad
Lavelle scored 20 points through 26 minutes in her Drexel debut against Rider. In the next game, the freshman scored a career-high 31 points in a buzzer-beater loss to City 6 rival La Salle (5-2). She earned CAA Rookie of the Week honors for both performances.
The Riverside High School product is averaging 18.6 ppg, shooting 60% from inside the arc and 50% from outside of it, going 5-of-10 from 3-point range early on in her career. However, the 6-2 forward isn’t all about scoring. Lavelle leads the Dragons in rebounds, averaging 5.6 rpg, and also is averaging one steal per game.
On the flip side, here are three players whose production — especially shooting the ball — has left something on the table through the first month of the season:
Brandon Slater (Villanova)
The Wildcats (2-5) and Slater have struggled in their first season without Jay Wright at the helm. Slater emerged as one of Nova's most reliable shooter’s last season during their Final Four Run, shooting 47.8% from the field (33.7% 3PT) and averaging 8.5 ppg. This year, while he’s scoring 11.7 ppg, he’s doing so far less efficiently, shooting only 37.5% overall and 25.0% (6-of-24) from the 3-point arc. After playing 30+ minutes in all of Villanova’s first five games, including all 40 against Iowa State, he only played a total of 36 minutes in losses to Portland and Oregon, shooting 4-of-16 overall and 2-of-8 from deep in those games.
Jhamir Brickus (La Salle)
The 5-11 guard from Coatesville started the La Salle season opener against Villanova, but has been in-and-out of the starting lineup ever since. Head coach Fran Dunphy has experimented with different starting fives this season for the Explorers (3-4), but Brickus is not doing himself any favors. The former A-10 All Rookie Selection is scoring only 4.0 ppg, down from 8.9 ppg the season prior; after making more than 45% of his shots his first two seasons, including 35.8% from 3-point range last year, he’s shooting only 33.3% overall and 28.6% from deep (4-of-14). He has only scored double-digits once, (14) in a 69-62 loss versus Georgetown.
Mate Okros (Drexel)
Okros has not shared the success that his highschool and college teammate Williams has experienced this season. Known for his shooting ability, Okros has not found his rhythm, yet. The 6-6 senior is averaging 4.9 ppg, down from 7.2 ppg as a sophomore and 5.6 ppg last year, off of 31% shooting from the field and 33% from 3-point land; he’s a career 38.8% 3-point shooter. He’s still starting and playing big minutes (29.1 ppg), putting up career-best rebounding (4.8 rpg) and assist (1.8 apg) numbers, but the shooting hasn’t come yet.
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