Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Elite 25 - Kicking off the Top 20

Virginia Tech's Monet Tellier

Our countdown of the state's best returning players continues with three outstanding rebounders, a pint-sized powerhouse from Longwood and a Virginia Tech star who shines brightest against the Hokies' toughest foes.

Janaa Pickard
20. Janaa Pickard, 6-1 R-Sr. F, George Mason
Efficiency score: 9.11
The Patriots struggled mightily as a team, but Pickard contributed her usual solid rebounding and shot-blocking numbers and delivered a career-high 18 points in Mason's season-ending loss to UNC Wilmington at the CAA Tournament. Pickard also served as a legitimate 3-point threat (21 of 61, 34.4 percent) for a team that, in general, shot poorly from distance.

Jasmine Gardner
19. Jasmine Gardner, 6-2 Sr. C/F, Liberty
Efficiency score: 9.97
A late-season knee injury and two subsequent surgeries have raised the specter that Gardner will miss at least the start of the 2013-14 season and could possibly redshirt. Still this list reflects what players have already done, and before she got hurt, Gardner was a solid across-the-board contributor while holding it down as the second-best rebounder (7.3 rpg) on the nation's best rebounding team.

Daiesha Brown
18. Daiesha Brown, 5-3, Soph. G, Longwood
Efficiency score: 10.73
The Lancers threw Brown into the Big South fire as a freshman, and the Richmond native responded with 12.2 points a game on 44 percent shooting and surprisingly solid rebounding numbers (128 total boards, the third-most on the teams) for such a shorty. It all made her an easy choice for the Big South All-Freshman team, and she was also named the state's rookie of the year by the Virginia Sports Information Directors. More importantly, Brown's play was a big reason why the Lancers, after being picked to finish last in the conference, made it all the way to the league's title game.

17. Monet Tellier, 5-11 Sr. G, Virginia Tech
Efficiency score: 11.03
In addition to having one of the all-time great names, Tellier has developed a knack for flat-out lighting up one marquee team every year. As a freshman, she went for a then-career high 23 points as the Hokies stunned Vanderbilt. The following year, she torched No. 8 Maryland for 33 points as the Hokies rocked the Terrapins in College Park. And last year, she dropped a game-high 24 points as Tech spanked 19th-ranked Florida State by 19. Now, Tellier isn't that player every game - then again, who is? But when she's good, she's really, really good.

Toia Giggetts
16. Toia Giggetts, 6-0 Jr. F, JMU
Efficiency score: 11.30
While we've been appreciating Giggetts' skills since she was a freshman at Norfolk's Lake Taylor High, in all honesty we weren't exactly expecting to see her this high on our list. That is, until we ran the numbers. Turns out this formula loves Giggetts,  not only for how much she does well (rebound, block shots) but also how little she does that hurts her team. She doesn't take bad shots (51.1 percent field goal percentage). Makes her free throws at a solid clip (73.3 percent). And doesn't cough the ball up much (a mere 1.4 turnovers per game). Could she manage her fouls better? Sure. But overall she is a really efficient player who may poised for a breakthrough season.

Previous rankings:

Wednesday: Inside the Top 15

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