There were many changes from COVID-19 in the 2020-21 season, but the best women’s basketball players held their own. Kentucky’s Rhyne Howard continues to lead ESPN.com’s top 25 after leading the preseason. But there are a few other changes, including six players not selected for the November Cup. That doesn’t mean the players currently eliminated played poorly; they and others could end up in the Top 25 as we head into March Madness.

These rankings – determined by ESPN.com contributors Mechelle Voepel, Graham Hays and Charlie Creme – reflect the improvement many players made despite all the challenges they faced during the pandemic.

Ranking the top 25 players in women’s college basketball 2020-21, version 2.0

1. Ryan Howard

Error! The file name is not specified. AP Photo/Name Chips

The preseason favorite for all major players of the year and No. 1 on the preseason roster in November, Howard did not start the season this way. In fact, she didn’t start the season at all, missing the Wildcats’ first two games under the suspension of new coach Kaira Elzy. An eight-point game in their debut and two weak games of 13 and 14 points the following week raised doubts. It appears there is nothing that 27.8 PPG averages over four consecutive games against top 15 opponents in Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas A&M and South Carolina can’t cure. Howard’s 25 points in the fourth quarter and overtime in the win over Mississippi State are the moments on which the Player of the Year award is based. -Charlie Creme

2. Dana Evans

Error! The file name is not specified. Scott Utterback-USA Sports

Evans had a tough road ahead for any player. He has gone from a first complementary year to a full-fledged rising star as a junior, and now finally the reigning CCA Player of the Year with all the responsibility and pressure as a senior. It accounted for 22% of Louisville’s attempts this season. This isn’t exactly Asia Durr’s territory (26% as a senior), but it does add a cornerstone to an otherwise balanced depth picture. — Graham Hayes.

3. Haley Jones

Error! The file name is not specified. AP Photo/Jed Jacobson

  • Stanford Cardinal. G. 6’0 High School.
  • Statistics 2020-21 : 15.2 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 3.5 APG52.8% FG

Watching her on the field for the Cardinals’ No1 team, scoring from every angle and playing for others, you know how much we missed her when an injury cut short her rookie season last January. Jones is a special talent that is blossoming before our eyes. It drew 52.8 percent from the field last season and 57.0 percent this year. Long ball is not her thing – she did 0 for 4 from the back of the arc and 3 for 11 in the first year, but considering what else she does, it’s not a big deal. Besides, she’ll probably add to that at some point. -Poelipse Scale

4. Aari MacDonald

Error! The file name is not specified. Jacob Snow/Sports Wire Icon

  • Arizona Wildcats. G. 6’0 Senior.
  • Statistics 2020-21 : 18.8 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 5.2 APG

The new year shows how narrow the margins are at the top of sports, with McDonald’s own difficulties in the loss to Stanford and the team’s general misconduct in the loss to Washington State. But it was McDonald’s that pushed Arizona to the edge of the top five. In January, despite the high demands, she posted the best attendance/sales ratio and a 3-point performance in her career. — Graham Hayes.

5. Charlie Collier

Error! The file name is not specified. Jay Janner-USA TODAY Sports

  • Texas Longhorns | F/C | 6’3 | Junior
  • Statistics 2020-21 : 21.6 PPG, 9.9 PPG, 57.9% HG. ST.

She wasn’t in our pre-season top 25, but it was clear from the start – she had 44 points and 16 rebounds against North Texas on the 29th. November – that she belonged there. She achieved an average of 5.9 in the first year and 13.1 in the second year. She has also made great strides as a defender this year under new coach Vic Schaefer. Because of her age, Collier is eligible to repeat as a junior and was the first to be selected in the WNBA ESPN mock repechage in December. She is coming off her worst game of the season, scoring five points against West Virginia. His record against other Big 12 defenses will therefore be another benchmark. -Poelipse Scale

6. Paige Buchers

Error! The file name is not specified. David Butler II/Pool Photo via AP

  • UConn Huskies | G | 6’1 | Freshman
  • Statistics 2020-21 : 18.9 RPM, 5.7 RPM, 5.1 RPM.

If the rookie leads the Huskies with a goal and Geno Auriemma feels he’s not shooting enough, something special could happen. Bueckers has exceeded the high expectations they brought to Storrs and is already the best player at UConn. She leads the team in terms of points and assists, and as a playmaker she is the second best rebounder and shooter. The defense is still strong, and 3.0 turnovers per game is too much, but Bookers is an offensive player who is as well-built and balanced as Auriemma was early in his career. -Charlie Creme

7. Michaela Oninvere

Error! The file name is not specified. Jacob Snow/Sports Wire Icon

  • UCLA Bruins | F| 6’1 | Senior
  • Statistics 2020-21 : 18.7 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 2.7 APG

She won’t have to do it alone this season, as one of the best tandems in the country will take on Charisma Osborne. But sharing the spotlight did not diminish Oninver’s abilities. Her performance in UCLA’s recent win at Oregon (33 points, 10 rebounds) showed why she’s been in the top 10 all season (she was #3 in our pre-season rankings) – and why the Bruins, who were in eighth place, remain in the top 10. — Graham Hayes.

8. Elissa Kunane

Error! The file name is not specified. Ethan Hyman/ News & Observer via AP

She’s a traditional blocker, an old-fashioned cross in the best sense of the word, but she can also make 3-pointers (6 of 13 this season and 27 of 63 in her career). Kunane completed 16 double-doubles last season as the Wolfpack won its first CCA tournament title since 1991. So far it has three games out of ten, largely because the Wolfpack is a better rebounding team than last year, when it had to dominate the tables. NC State holds all the cards to be a Final Four team and Cunane was a hit. -Poelipse Scale

9. Caitlin Clark

Error! The file name is not specified. Stephen Malley/Hawkeyesports.com.

  • Iowa Hawkeyes. G. 5’8 Freshman.
  • Statistics 2020-21 : 25.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 6.5 APG

Sure, Clark was fourth in the 2020 class, but did anyone outside of Iowa City expect this in the near future? Relying on a fast-paced offense that fit her quick style of play perfectly, Clark was the catalyst from day one for Iowa, scoring 27 points in her debut. Less than two months into his career, Clark tops the Top 10 for the year with Michigan’s Hillmon Nazi. She has already played four games at 30 points and a triple-double, which was pretty prestigious for the rest of her long career. -Charlie Creme

10. Nalissa Smith

Error! The file name is not specified. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

Smith leads the Lady Bears in scoring for the second straight season. Only Baylor on the brakes of VID 19 slowed them down. With the speed and agility she has at her peak, she is often a poor guard. The concern is that since Lauren Cox joined the WNBA, Smith has been more focused on defense, and his shooting percentage has dropped from 58.6% last year to 46.9% this year. But it’s something she’s going to work on. -Poelipse Scale

11. Naz Hillmon

Error! The file name is not specified. Michigan Athletics

She took over from Kelsey Griffin, Megan Gustafson and other Big Ten players who regularly run ridiculous numbers on the court. Among those who have played more than three games this season, it ranks among the national top 10 in terms of field goal percentage, rebounds and goals. She scored at least 20 points in all but one game and had at least 10 rebounds in all but two games. — Graham Hayes.

12. Alia Boston

Error! The file name is not specified. Athletics in South Carolina

Boston’s point average, scoring percentage and free throw percentage are down from their first season on the varsity team. Part of this situation can be attributed to the defense, which is without striker Mikiah Herbert Harrigan (now in the WNBA) on the court. But Boston found out: Take Sunday’s win over Kentucky, for example, where she scored 20 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks. The 31st. In December, she had 28 points and 16 boards against Florida. That’s how Boston can be dominant. But between those two games, she finished with just five points on two of the 10 shots she took against Alabama. If you avoid these games, she’ll keep working on it. -Poelipse Scale

13. Arella Girantes

Error! The file name is not specified. John Jones/Sportswire Icon

She leads Rutgers in minutes, scores, rebounds, assists, flies and blocks. So here’s the thing. So far, Rutgers has worked hard to provide consistent support in the Big Ten game, but the guard, who may head to the WNBA after last season, continues to improve his stock. Forget the team leaders, she ranks in the top five in the conference in all of the above statistics – and she’s a more than respectable 12th in the league in terms of rebounding. — Graham Hayes.

14. Zia Cook

Error! The file name is not specified. AP Photo/Your Yacht

Cook has increased his average by five points from his first season and leads the Gamecocks in this category. She’s also the best three-point shooter at 50% (18 of 36), and on a team that doesn’t have many long-ball forwards, she’s very important. Apart from the defeat of 3. In December against NC State, the Gamecocks’ record was spotty despite the loss of former veteran playmaker Taisha Harris, who graduated and went on to the WNBA. Much of the credit goes to Cook, who played well in the backcourt with junior goaltender Destanny Henderson. -Poelipse Scale

15. Ashley Joens

Error! The file name is not specified. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

The points for the game have gone up. They also improved their hitting percentage and free throw percentage. After a second season that was one of the best in Cyclones history, Joen continues to improve. Jones may not be the tallest or strongest jumper, but he has the ingenuity and IQ of basketball at the height of a science. She constantly uses angles and levers to get the most out of her opponents, and has a natural ability to finish plays that many others do not. -Charlie Creme

16. Rikea Jackson

Error! The file name is not specified. Austin Perryman/Mississippi State Athletics

Jackson’s game continues to evolve. Already this season, Jackson is extending his reach with more three-point attempts than in 2019-20 with his fluid and elusive movement in the lane, and his high post work is the centerpiece of the Bulldogs’ offense. Jackson and Jessica Carter’s improved play makes Mississippi State one of the best inside combinations in the SEC. Last season, Jackson was much better in February and March than in December and January. If it happens again, the Bulldogs will be fighting for the title. -Charlie Creme

17. N’dea Jones

Error! The file name is not specified. Craig Bisacre / Texas Track & Field

  • Texas A&M Aggies | F | 1,90 m | Senior
  • Statistics 2020-21 : 13.1 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 58.4% FG

For the past three years, the Aggies have been known for just one superstar: Guard Channedi Carter, who left for the WNBA after her junior season. They are so deep and balanced that it’s hard to tell one player apart. But for the second time this season, Jones is averaging a double, and his percentage of hits from the field and from the foul line (72.5) is the highest in his career. It played a big role in the Aggies’ win, hitting 50.4% from the field and remaining undefeated at 12-0. -Poelipse Scale

18. Fran Belibi

Error! The file name is not specified. AP Photo/Darryl Webb

  • Stanford Cardinal | 6’1 sophomore year
  • Statistics 2020-21 : 12.0 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 57.6 FG

Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said before the season started that Belibi is ready for big things in 2020-21. It turns out you don’t win more games than any other coach in the history of women’s basketball without having good instincts. Belibi is really on the rebound in the second year. She averaged 23.9 points and 12.9 rebounds in 40 minutes. This will worry opponents – more than their promised virality – as their actual minutes continue to increase. — Graham Hayes.

19. Chelsea Dungeon

Error! The file name is not specified. Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors wants his teams to play fast and shoot, both on the perimeter and at the rim. The more 3-pointers and free throws, the better. Dungey embodies that philosophy. His relentless running to the basket is the only part of his game that transcends his fearless barrage of shots. The centerpiece of Arkansas basketball, which transferred from Oklahoma after Dungey’s first season, ranks 11th in the country for 3-point attempts and 2nd for free throws. His free throw percentage is down, but otherwise his efficiency is up in what has been the best season of his already brilliant career. -Charlie Creme

20. Christina Williams

Error! The file name is not specified. David Butler II-USA Monday Sports

  • UConn Huskies | G 5-foot-11 | Junior
  • Statistics 2020-21 : £14.6, £5.6, £3.4

Williams’ second season was good, but not good enough by their standards. His rebound and assist averages have improved this season, while his scoring has remained the same. Last season, Williams took 45.6 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three-point range, both of which she has looked to improve. It’s now 47.1%, with the same 3 point percentage. Williams’ best game so far this season was against Xavier on Dec. 19 (24 points), and she is coming off her worst game ever where she did not score on Saturday against Providence. But it’s too hard to handle the starts and interruptions of this particular season because of COWID-19. -Poelipse Scale

21. Olivia Nelson-Ododa

Error! The file name is not specified. David Butler II-USA Monday Sports

  • UConn Huskies. F. 6’3 June.
  • Statistics 2020-21 : 16.3 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2 BPG

Maybe she’ll attract more attention as a star elsewhere. It can be perfect for those who draw attention to themselves, like Paige Buchers and Christina Williams. What is non-negotiable is that it is invaluable to the program, which makes the merits of this label damn hard to find. Throws, blocks and even points are easily scored by the position player. But her ability to help consistently only underscores how well she fits into the world around her. — Graham Hayes.

22. Ashley Owusu

Error! The file name is not specified. AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Although Owusu was named Big Ten Rookie of the Year, he still had some things to learn about consistency. She has only started half of Maryland’s games for the 2019-20 season. Remember the lesson learned. Owusu is now the catalyst for the second-best scoring team in the country and has scored double-digit goals in every game for the Terps this season. He has become even more important and played even better since freshman star Angel Reese came out with a leg injury in game four, forcing Maryland into a seven-game rotation. -Charlie Creme

23. Kiana Williams

Error! The file name is not specified. AP Photo/Jed Jacobson

Stanford’s 10-0 mark is the best statistical evidence of Williams’ continued relevance. While sophomores Haley Jones and Fran Belibi and newcomer Cameron Brink took the lead role, Williams had to adjust. When she’s needed – as she did in December when she buried USC with a solid second half – she always has the potential to take the game in hand. And even when her shot doesn’t fall, she’s almost always on the court because the number one team in the country is better with her. — Graham Hayes.

24. Rennia Davis

Error! The file name is not specified. Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

She is entering her first season and will battle for the WNBA title this summer with Lady Flights. Davis is a first-round pick; her progress may depend on how she performs with the rest of Tennessee’s top prospects, including the University of Bonn and South Carolina. Their performance in the win over Arkansas at 7. January – 26 points, 11 rebounds – had Lady Vols place in the top 25 for the first time this season. Davis’ scoring average is down from last season (18.0), but that’s because Tennessee – with players like junior Ray Burrell scoring 17.8 PPG – is the better team. -Poelipse Scale

25. Destanny Henderson

Error! The file name is not specified. AP Photo/Name Chips

Without captain Taisha Harris, Henderson took advantage. She leads the Gamecocks in minutes played (32.3 MPG) and has 47 team assists. Its medium bounce for its size is also remarkable, and it has a speed that changes the game with the ball. Henderson was the top ESPN HoopGurlz leader in the 2018 class, and now that she’s in a rookie role, her full range of skills is out there for all to see. -Poelipse Scale

 

You May Also Like

College basketball picks — Can Texas keep rolling at West Virginia?

Last season, the Clemson Tigers finished one of the most historic series…

Kiley McDaniel’s 2021 American League team-by-team prospect rankings

Last week I ranked the top 100 candidates and the 30 farming…

College Football Playoff debate – What would an ideal system look like?

7. January 2021 ESPN staff Complaining about the college football playoffs has…

Detroit Lions hire Chris Spielman as special assistant

Chris Spielman, the former Detroit All-Pro Lions defender, left the broadcast booth…