Monday, October 14, 2013

The Elite 25 - the state's best returning players

JMU's Jazmon Gwathmey
Who will be the best Division I performers in Virginia in 2013-14? We'll let the players sort that out on the court over the next few months. But the top players heading into the season? That we can take a stab at. So before we start looking ahead, let's sort out what's already gone down and determine the state's 25 best returning players.

Our rankings rely heavily on efficiency rating, which credits a player for positive contributions (points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks) while deducting for negatives (missed shots, turnovers). But of course, no one statistic can completely measure a player's value, particularly defensively, so we tried our best to look beyond the numbers in breaking things down.

Since we're basing this on what players have already done; freshmen and other newcomers will have to wait for our 2014-15 list. With that in mind, check out the LadySwish Elite 25, five studettes at a time.
Jordynn Gaymon

25. Jordynn Gaymon, 6-1 Jr. F, Radford
Efficiency score: 7.69
Gaymon averaged just 14.3 minutes per game on the senior-laden Highlanders a year ago, but she made excellent - and efficient - use of the time. In addition to being the only Radford player to make at least 50 percent of her shots, Gaymon blocked a team-high 26 shots - more than any three other Highlanders combined - and ranked third in rebounding despite being 10th on the team in minutes played. Now imagine what she might do in starter's minutes....

Emily Frazier
24. Emily Frazier, 5-7 R-Jr. G, Liberty
Efficiency score: 7.92
Call her the epitome of the heady point guard, and not just because Frazier finished her undergraduate work in just three years and will spend the next two working on her master's. OK, that's part of it. But Frazier showed her smarts on the court, too, racking up nearly twice as many assists (121) as turnovers (67), dishing out at least 10 dimes on three different occasions and leading the Big South in assist-turnover ratio before a mid-February knee injury prematurely ended her season. The efficiency model highly values playmakers who execute with a minimum of mistakes. Obviously, so do the Lady Flames.

Jessica Pellechio
23. Jessica Pellechio, 5-8 So. G, VCU
Efficiency score: 8.07
Great hair, and an even greater 3-point shot. As a freshman, Pellechio was a bit of a one-trick pony, er, Ram, as 76 percent of her made baskets came from beyond the arc. But it was one heck of a trick - a quick-trigger long-range stroke that Pellechio, when hot, nailed with stunning frequency. A member of the Atlantic 10's All-Rookie team, Pellechio buried nine treys in one game - one shy of the school record - made a conference-high 77 on the season and ranked 15th in Division I in made 3s per contest.

22. Jazmon Gwathmey, 6-2 R-So. G, JMU
Efficiency score: 8.11
A unique combination of length and agility, Gwathmey is already an impact shotblocker (a team-high 34), defender and rebounder and figures to be a key for the Dukes going forward if that's all she does. And as she fine-tune her offensive arsenal, the stage is set for Gwathmey to take her place among the very best players in the Colonial Athletic Association - at least.

Kelsey Wolfe

21. KelseyWolfe, 5-10 Sr. G, Virginia
Efficiency score: 8.72
A bit player for the Cavaliers her first two seasons, Wolfe used her lethal perimeter shot to blossom into her team's second-leading scorer until a knee injury - didn't all the Cavaliers get hurt last season? - shelved her down the stretch. We sometimes take for granted how much work is involved when athletes come back from major surgery in a matter of months, but all indications are that Wolfe is on track to return to the lineup at the start of the season. Here's hoping it won't take long before she can pick up where she left off in 2012-13.

Tuesday: Kicking off the Top 20

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