What has made this season in Division I women’s college basketball in New York and New Jersey especially interesting is the emergence of teams that were fighting for a handful of wins only two or three years ago. With the season now concluded, we are naming the Amsterdam News Top 10 Players from our area. They are listed in alphabetical order.
Sarah Benedetti, St. Francis College
The senior forward, who this season became the 13th St. Francis women’s player to score over 1,000 points, is an undeniable Cinderella story. Her freshman year, the Terriers were 4-25. Benedetti ended her senior season playing in the NCAA tournament.
Kahleah Cooper, Rutgers
The leading scorer for the Scarlet Knights, Cooper, a junior guard-forward, continues to have an outstanding college career.
Blake Dietrick, Princeton
The senior guard averaged 15.1 points, 4.9 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game while leading her team to a 30-0 regular season, the only undefeated team in Division I. The Tigers also won their first-ever game in the NCAA tournament.
Aliyyah Handford, St. John’s
The best part of Handford’s success story is that the 5-foot-9 guard from Newark still has another year of college to get even better. Named WBCA All-Region for the second year, Handford led the Big East conference in scoring with 19.3 points per game.
Danaejah Grant, St. John’s
Fourth in the Big East in scoring, the 5-foot-9 junior guard from Piscataway settled in splendidly during her first full season at St. John’s, averaging 17.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.
Betnijah Laney, Rutgers
Named an Honorable Mention All-American by the Associated Press, the guard-forward notched 20 double-doubles during her senior season. She was a First Team All-Big 10 Conference selection by both the media and coaches.
Damika Martinez, Iona
Averaging 23.8 points per game, the senior guard has been the Gaels’ go-to player. She was named the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Player of the Year for the third consecutive year and was the third-highest scorer in the nation.
Kelsey Minato, Army
The junior guard made Black Knights history by being the first player from the program to be named to the WBCA All-Region 1 team. The future Army officer ranked eighth in scoring in the nation, averaging 22.3 points per game.
Tabatha Richardson-Smith, Seton Hall
An outstanding offensive and defensive player, the junior forward will be the Pirates’ undisputable star next season because of the graduation of three teammates. Third in the Big East in scoring, she averaged 17.8 points per game.
Ka-Deidre Simmons, Seton Hall University
Success was worth the wait for Simmons, a graduate student guard who survived an 8-22 freshman season and a knee injury sophomore year to become probably the best of the best in New York and New Jersey. Named an Associated Press Division I Honorable Mention All-American, Simmons leaves a legacy of excellence.