Beyond boldface names, KU women’s basketball cultivating new depth

Kansas City, Missouri—Kansas women’s basketball coach Brandon Schneider vividly recalls the stark difference he observed during their 2022 NCAA Tournament matchup against Stanford. He reflected on the competitiveness of his starting lineup, with players one through five, but noted a significant gap when they went deeper into their roster.

Schneider aims to change that narrative for the upcoming season, ensuring that depth won’t be an issue for the Jayhawks. The spotlight shines brightly on the returning super-senior all-conference trio of Zakiyah Franklin, Taiyanna Jackson, and Holly Kersgieter, along with senior guard Wyvette Mayberry and the highly touted five-star freshman S’Mya Nichols, who Schneider plans to insert as the fifth starter.

However, Schneider emphasizes the importance of depth as “the key to our team.” Beyond the familiar faces, like forward Zsófia Telegdy, the Jayhawks are welcoming a variety of new talents, including first-year guard Laia Conesa, who is part of a promising four-woman freshman class alongside Paris Gaines and McKenzie Smith. Additionally, transfers Ryan Cobbins and Skyler Gill are joining the team, both eager to make an impact in their home state of Kansas.

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Cobbins, who spent time at North Dakota State and Alabama, brings valuable experience with her. She has already shown her ability to perform at the Power Five level, making her a significant addition to the team.

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Gill, an intriguing 5-foot-11 player known for her shot-blocking prowess, is set to share the frontcourt with Jackson, forming a formidable shot-blocking duo that has everyone excited about the defensive possibilities.

Schneider plans to utilize Gill in different ways, with a focus on her defensive prowess. He believes she will be a crucial asset on the court, making a significant impact in the league.

Laia Conesa, despite her freshman status, is expected to log substantial minutes. Hailing from Spain, she brings international experience and a high basketball IQ to the team, making her a key contributor.

The newcomers made an immediate impression during the Jayhawks’ summer trip to Italy and Greece, with Conesa posting impressive statistics against the Greek Select team. Cobbins showcased her long-range shooting ability, addressing the team’s need for outside scoring.

The experienced core of the KU team has seamlessly integrated these newcomers, highlighting their coachability and adaptability, emphasizing the positive impact they’ve had on team dynamics. The Jayhawks are determined to build a strong and cohesive team, incorporating both the core players and the promising new additions.


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