NCAAW: Prior to WNBA, can Ashley Owusu guide VA Tech to an ACC title?

The NCAA transfer website was possibly the most popular it’s ever wanted the 2022 season, with many prominent gamers changing college groups. The break up of the core of the Maryland Terrapins, who stopped working to fulfill the lofty expectations they set on their own prior to 2022, made especially huge waves, with star guard Ashley Owusu’s option to leave the program for Virginia Tech a relocation that might effectively alter the regular-season results of both the Big Ten and the ACC.

Owusu, who is initially from Woodbridge, Va., picked to return near house at a bottom line in the trajectory of the Virginia Tech program. The Hokies had actually been on the cusp of ACC contention for numerous previous seasons under head coach Kenny Brooks, however weren’t able to take over the conference’s powerhouses — NC State and Louisville, to call a couple.

With the abovementioned programs weaker getting in the 2022-23 season, it’s now or never ever for Brooks and Virginia Tech, and Owusu might be the piece that puts the Hokies over the top.

“[Owusu’s] versatility will give us the ability to play multiple people in multiple positions,” Brooks stated of his treasured transfer. “She adds an element that we haven’t had here before. Her desire to win and willingness to do what’s best for the team will elevate our program.”

Expectations are naturally high for Owusu as she signs up with the Hokies, and how rapidly she gets used to her brand-new environment — both the Hokies and the ACC as a whole — will be important in figuring out simply how far she can lead Virginia Tech. Let’s gone through what she’s accomplished so far in her college profession and what Virginia Tech fans can get out of her, along with which of her abilities stick out most in regards to WNBA capacity.

Honors and data

Owusu was ranked as the No. 7 possibility (No. 2 point player) in the recruiting class of 2019 by ESPN HoopGurlz, having actually been called a McDonald’s All-American and the state of Virginia’s Gatorade Player of the Year as a high school senior at Paul VI.

During her time at Maryland, Owusu acquired an excellent quantity of awards and achievements. She was called to the All-Big Ten First Team as a sophomore and Second group as a freshman and junior, made All-American honors from the USBWA and Associated Press in 2021, and took house the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award that exact same season as the country’s leading shooting guard. Owusu balanced 14.6 points and 5.1 helps per video game in her 3 season at Maryland.

Internationally, Owusu has actually been contending for Team U.S.A. given that 2016, when she took part in group trials for FIBA’s U17 World Cup. Most just recently, Owusu won a gold medal with Team U.S.A. in the 2021 FIBA Women’s AmeriCup, playing together with other huge names such as Aliyah Boston, Rhyne Howard, Haley Jones and Destanni Henderson.

Owusu’s playmaking brings additional measurement to title-hungry Hokies

As a guard who stands out at pressing the basketball and making plays for others, Owusu includes an additional measurement to Virginia Tech’s offense.
Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

One thing that instantly stands apart about Owusu is her construct: She stands at 6-foot with a stockier frame than a lot of guards, which, as suggested by the various position-based awards she’s routinely in factor to consider for, makes it challenging to pin down which position she’s matched finest to play.

This can be either a strength or a weak point when weighing how a private gamer compares with their particular project (in some cases a gamer has the physical tools to play several positions however doesn’t stand out at any among them), however in Owusu’s case, it will highly likely be to Virginia Tech’s benefit. She’ll sign up with a backcourt including Georgia Amoore (a minimum of 11 points and 4 helps per video game in her last 2 seasons) and Kayana Traylor (a previous Purdue Boilermaker standout who can likewise score and help) that, with Owusu, figures to have a lot of positional interchangeability and offer Brooks the choice to play 3 ball handlers if he so picks.

This is where the abundant get richer. At Maryland, Owusu rapidly ended up being understood for leading an uptempo Terrapins offense that looked for shift chances as frequently as possible; in Owusu’s 3 seasons at Maryland, the Terrapins tape-recorded 27.5 percent, 27.7 percent and 23.5 percent of their ownerships in shift (Synergy Sports), routinely ranking near the top of the NCAA in speed of play. While this is frequently a sign of a team-wide buy-in to press the ball for a complete 40 minutes, it’s tough to do without a lead guard who can dip into a quick pace and make plays for others regularly — 2 locations Owusu masters.

Compare that design of have fun with how the Hokies played last season — simply a 10 percent shift frequency and a heavy reliance upon center Elizabeth Kitley (28.6 percent use rate in 2021-22; Her Hoop Stats) — and it’s clear just how much of an increase Owusu can offer her brand-new group. In playing through Kitley and recently-graduated sharpshooter Aisha Sheppard, Virginia Tech has actually been far more of a halfcourt group in current seasons.

To be clear, Kitley will most likely still be the Hokies’ go-to gamer; the ruling ACC Player of the Year is an interior existence couple of groups have a response for and, just like a lot of low-post gamers, she’ll require to get the ball routinely for Virginia Tech to get the most out of her minutes on the flooring.

It will depend on Owusu, then, to change her own video game to those of her brand-new colleagues, something Big Ten expert Christy Winters-Scott believes she’s currently proficient at:

“[Owusu] is able to differentiate between her making a play or facilitating for the team to make a play … I also think the way she operates is very strategic, it’s very surgical. She’s probably thinking two or three steps ahead of her opponents.”

An effective marital relationship of the skills of Owusu and Kitley won’t just advantage Virginia Tech. In the WNBA, low-post play is still a considerable part of lots of groups’ playbooks, so as a lead guard, Owusu will require to be able to be as reliable optimizing the skills of her colleagues in the halfcourt as she is producing plays on the quick break. As a taller guard, her capability to protect up will likewise be under the microscopic lense as she makes her case for the WNBA; for Virginia Tech, she’ll be the de facto little forward in three-guard lineups, however the quantity of athleticism throughout the WNBA at that position is a totally various monster. If she can show to be an effect playmaker on offense and a multi-position protector, Owusu will really satisfy the positional adaptability Brooks has actually mentioned.

Watch her play

Virginia Tech’s non-conference schedule isn’t the greatest, however a set of early-December matches versus Nebraska (Dec. 1; ACC Network) and Tennessee (Dec. 4; ESPN2) stick out. After 3 seasons in the Big Ten, Owusu is plenty knowledgeable about Nebraska, while Tennessee will be anticipated to complete for an SEC title and has numerous of its own WNBA potential customers in the 2023 draft class.

Once ACC play starts, nevertheless, practically every group in the conference will be gunning for the Hokies. They’ll get 2 video games versus competing NC State on Feb. 6 and Feb. 19 (both telecasted on ESPN2); Virginia Tech went a combined 1-7 versus NC State in the previous 3 NCAA seasons, however the Hokies remain in a position to turn the script thanks to their brand-new addition and a crucial current Wolfpack graduate in Elissa Cunane.

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