Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Elite 25: Cracking the Top 10

Genevieve Okoro
Another defensive ace, a freaky athlete who starred despite playing out of position and the female answer to Bo Jackson highlight this eclectic array of stars as our countdown rolls on.

10. Genevieve Okoro, 6-0 Sr. F, Richmond
Efficiency score: 15.50
Heading into the 2012-13 season, Okoro seemed poised to join the ranks of the Atlantic 10's top players, and she was averaging 10.3 points and 11 rebounds through six games against rugged opposition before an ACL injury ended the show. The first season after knee surgery is often tricky, and athleticism is one of Okoro's best assets. But even if she's merely close to her old form, near her old standard, Okoro should close out her Richmond career in fine style. And if she gets to be 100 percent healthy, look out, Atlantic 10.

Lexie Gerson
9. Lexie Gerson, 5-11 R-Sr. G,  Virginia
Efficiency score: Did not play last season
Gerson didn't play a minute last season after succumbing to offseason hip surgery. So what's she doing in our Top 10? It's certainly not because we love the name Lexie. OK, that's part of it. But mostly it's because the last time we saw her, she was the on-court maestro of a superior Virginia defense. As was the case with JMU's Nikki Newman, efficiency scores don't accurately reflect the value of this kind of player. But in our view, Gerson is a major impact player.

Rachel Gordon
8. Rachel Gordon, 6-0 Sr. F, Norfolk State
Efficiency score: 15.53
If there's such a thing as being too efficient, Gordon might be Exhibit A. The Spartans star shot a team-leading 47 percent but ranked just fourth on the team in shots taken. Of the three NSU players who took more shots than Gordon, none shot higher than 35 percent (one was at 29 percent). Also, the fact that Gordon had just 37 turnovers on the season despite playing 33.2 minutes per game suggests the ball wasn't in her hands nearly as much as it could have been. Memo to NSU players - how 'bout getting Rachel a few more touches around the hoop? Of course, there are no issues with Gordon's rebounding (9.7 rpg last season, 10.4 rpg in 2011-12). In fact, if our lives depended on getting one rebound and we could send anyone on this list to the glass to pull it down, this young lady might very well be our choice.

Nicole Hamilton
7. Nicole Hamilton, 5-8 Sr. G, Hampton
Efficiency score: 11.79
A super-athletic elite defender - 48 blocked shots from a guard? - occasional big-time scorer and first-team All-MEAC pick who did a spectacular job after offseason injuries forced this natural two-guard to man the point all season. "Nicki" still had a bit of a sweet tooth for 3-point shots - a team-high 166 of them - of which she made only 23.5 percent. But given her versatility and otherworldly defense - not to mention that Hampton went 28-6 and blitzed through MEAC play unbeaten with Hamilton running the show - we'll live with a few missed shots.

6. Becca Wann, 5-10 Sr. G, Richmond
Efficiency score: 12.12
The ultra-versatile Wann provides a broad assortment of statistical contributions, but what has always stood out to us is how hard and passionately she plays, as though each game could be her last. That's why it was ironic when, last month, Wann had to step away from an All-American soccer career for the Spiders after suffering the latest in a series of concussions. Wann credited her faith for her ability to move forward without regret, and we're sure that's true. But it has to help to have the knowledge that you poured everything you have into the games you did get to play.

Becca Wann
Previous rankings

Friday: The Final Five

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