North Texas Daily

Women’s basketball building chemistry with new team

Women’s basketball building chemistry with new team

Women’s basketball building chemistry with new team
November 10
12:00 2022

Women’s basketball is coming into the 2022-23 season with a new-look team.

Longtime members of the team like Madison Townley and Amber Dixon ran out of eligibility after last season. Seven total players have departed from the program. Of those seven, six were seniors. Needing to rebuild her team, head coach Jalie Mitchell brought in a class of four freshmen.

“The freshmen have done an outstanding job,” Mitchell said. “They show up every day, they are ready to work, they go hard [and] they compete — a stranger can come watch our practice and not really know which ones are the freshmen.”

North Texas’ freshmen class was guard-heavy as Mitchell brought in four to supplement the position. Freshman guard Desiree Wooten was the top player in the Mean Green’s recruiting class. A native of Mansfield, Texas, Wooten was ranked No. 9 in Premier Basketball’s list of Texas women’s basketball prospects.

The Mean Green additionally added freshmen guards Ereauna Hardaway, Breanna Davis and Jahcelyn Hartfield. Davis carries a legacy to North Texas, as her father is Mean Green hall of famer, Chris Davis. Breanna wears her father’s number five.

While the team lost a number of its players last season, it retained five. Two starters are returning from last season, senior guard Quincy Noble — North Texas’ top scorer in 2022-23 — and senior forward Jaylen Mallard.

“We had a really mature team with six seniors last year,” Mallard said. “[But] that does not change the talent we have [now].”

Following the transfer of former guard Jazion Jackson to the University of Texas-El Paso, sophomore guard Kendall McGruder looks to step up after playing in an off-the-bench role last season. McGruder was the most played freshman in 2021-22, appearing in 28 games. In her 28 games played, McGruder developed into one of the Mean Green’s better shooters, coming in at third on the team with 25 three-pointers made.

McGruder started in North Texas’ exhibition contest on Nov. 3. In her new starting role, McGruder said she wants to share success with her teammates.

“I want to be more of a team player,” McGruder said. “I want to get the team involved so they can help me get involved, not necessarily looking out for me, but looking out for everybody else on the court.”

Many of the Mean Green’s players have not played together competitively yet. The variance on the team means North Texas will be learning how one another play throughout the beginning of the season. Mitchell said assimilating this season is imperative for the Mean Green.

“Obviously number one [this] season is for them to come together and gel, the earlier the better of course,” Mitchell said. “I am really thankful that we have had so much time together in the summer, with our foreign tour, preseason has been good.”

Like all team sports at North Texas, the 2022-23 athletic season is women’s basketball’s final in Conference USA. Mitchell has been at the helm for a majority of the team’s C-USA years after being named the head coach before the 2015-16 season. Team success has improved under Mitchell the last two years, with two winning seasons in a row, but a conference title — regular season or tournament — eludes the team.

This season offers the last chance for Mitchell and the Mean Green to win a C-USA title. In July 2023, North Texas makes a move to the American Athletic Conference. The American will usher in a new era of Mean Green athletics. Teams at the university will attempt to positively end their time in C-USA. 

“Just want to build that chemistry as early as possible — trying to go out with a championship,” Mitchell said.

Featured Iamge: Senior guard Quincy Noble is surrounded by defenders in a match against Texas A&M International at the Superpit on Nov. 3, 2022. Photo by Marco Barrera

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Andrew Hermes

Andrew Hermes

Reed Smith

Reed Smith

fall sports editor

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