Thursday, September 8, 2016

Comings and Goings: George Mason 2016-17 season

Be patient while we crank out this series (William and Mary is on deck), but today we focus on George Mason.

In case you missed it:
Comings and Goings: Richmond
Comings and Goings: Virginia


Taylor Brown: the multitalented guard graduated as the school's second leading scorer all time despite playing just three years
Katrina Hutzell: the UMBC transfer who averaged 1.1 ppg graduated with one year of eligibility remaining
Reana Mohamed: the team's leader in 3-pointers her senior year has graduated
Kristi Mokube: the Patriots No. 2 scorer and rebounder has graduated


Jacy Bolton: 6-0 Freshman F: Amassed more than 2,000 points at Drexel (Missouri) High where she was also a volleyball and track star
Alexsis Grate: 5-6 Freshman G: Averaged 16.5 ppg or better at Hampton's Bethel High
Sarah Kaminski: 5-9 Freshman F: All-time assist leader at Minniehaha Academy in Minnesota
Allie McCool: 6-2 Freshman F: East Central (Lawrencesburg, Ind.) High's all-time leader in scoring, rebounding, FG percentage and blocked shots
De'Jah Williford-Kelley 6-1 Freshman F: Four-year letterwinner at Lower Richland High in Columbia, S.C.

Back in Fairfax after a rejuvenating cruise in the south Caribbean, Nyla Milleson enters her fourth season at George Mason with optimism. Of course, replacing scoring machine Brown and Mokube, right behind her last year, isn't something to envy, but with eight returners, a staff that's stayed intact and five freshmen, Milleson is excited about where the Patriots are in terms of chemistry and relationship building, those ever-important off-court intangibles that relate to how a team performs as a unit on the court.

Milleson is quick to credit the work ethic of all of her players; force her to pick out a pair and she elevates Kara Wright and Tiffany Padgett just a tad. Wright has a year under her belt as a Patriot after transferring from Southeast Missouri State and started 27 games a year ago; Padgett played in 29 games after transferring from Loyola-Maryland. Both redshirt seniors, along with 5-7 guard Sylvia Maxwell, eligible this season after transferring from Niagara, will be integral to the Patriots system.

If any of the freshmen will redshirt, it's too soon to say, and how quickly Jewel Triggs mends from offseason knee surgery will contribute to that decision. The 5-11 sophomore guard, second behind Mohomed last year in 3s, had patellar surgery on both knees and is pain free for the first time in her career.

Onto the frosh. We asked about McCool first, because, let's face it: It's a really cool name. Milleson like's McCool's hands and work on the low block. The 6-2 forward averaged a double-double 14.1 ppg and 11.1 rpg her senior year and was second in field-goal percentage (.59) in the East Indiana Athletic Conference.

Point guard Kaminski flew under the recruiting radar likely due to injuries in both knees, though one of them was in eighth grade. She missed the first three games of her senior year rehabbing from a second ACL tear, and finished as her team's leading scorer with a loss in the 2A state quarters. (Reportedly a Shel Silverstein fan, we note her good taste in authors.)

Grate can also share time at the point, and she scored plenty while at Bethel High after transferring from nearby Kecoughtan. Milleson likes her tough-minded mentality and ability in the open floor.

Long and lanky Bolton and Williford-Kelley will both benefit from the weight room. Bolton played at tiny Drexel High in really tiny Drexel, Mo., a town an hour south of Kansas City where population is about 1,000. (Let's just say Jacy knew everybody in her graduating class.) Williford-Kelley is more a slasher than Bolton, and she brings the ability to score inside and on the perimeter.

Two more transfers -- Camden Musgrave (5-7 guard from Central Connecticut) and Taylor Byrne (6-1 forward from Seton Hall) await in the wings for the 2016-17 season after sitting out due to NCAA rules. Musgrave has two years of eligibility left and Byrne, three. And while Milleson has relied heavily on transfers, she said the Patriots are able to be more selective about the talent they bring in. Next year's class already includes three freshmen with the hopeful addition of a fourth.

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