The top scorers are back. That could make the ACC women’s basketball race even tougher

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — From her debut college game, Ta’Niya Latson exhibited a scoring prowess that surprised many, elevating her above all others in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Now, she’s set to return for another season with the 18th-ranked Seminoles, joined by a wealth of returning scorers and all-ACC selections for the upcoming 2023-24 season.

Latson, a 5-foot-8 guard who averaged 21.3 points and earned the league’s Rookie of the Year award, is one of eight players coming back from last year’s all-ACC first team. This list includes two-time Player of the Year Elizabeth Kitley, representing the eighth-ranked Virginia Tech, fresh from their first-ever Final Four appearance.

The ACC is also welcoming back 12 of its top 15 scorers from the previous season, including Syracuse’s Dyaisha Fair, who averaged 19.9 points in her first year with the Orange, and Kitley, who was fourth in scoring (18.2) while leading the league in rebounding (10.7).

These impressive statistics don’t even account for the addition of the ACC’s incoming transfers, such as Iowa State’s Lexi Donarski joining North Carolina or Louisville’s acquisition of former Sun Belt Player of the Year and 1,800-point scorer, forward Kiki Jefferson, from James Madison. Furthermore, the league is also set to introduce talented freshmen, including McDonald’s All-Americans like point guard Hannah Hidalgo for Notre Dame, Duke wing Jadyn Donovan, and North Carolina State guard Zoe Brooks.

Georgia Tech coach Nell Fortner aptly describes the ACC as “not for the faint of heart.”

Louisville coach Jeff Walz echoes the sentiment, expressing his admiration for the wealth of talent among rosters, players, and coaches, predicting an outstanding season ahead.

Notably, this season is expected to deliver plenty of offense, considering the number of proven scorers. It’s a time when the women’s game has seen a shift towards older players due to extended eligibility granted amid the pandemic and increased player mobility through the transfer portal.

Experience matters, especially for players accustomed to being the focus of opposing defenses. For example, Elizabeth Kitley, who is already Virginia Tech’s all-time leading scorer, has embraced the opportunity for another season.

North Carolina’s Deja Kelly, who has averaged 15 points over her three-year career, has grown into a playmaking guard, enhancing her effectiveness.

Notre Dame boasts returning first-teamers Sonia Citron and Olivia Miles (currently recovering from a knee injury), with Citron adapting to a more prominent role after Miles’ injury.

Florida State coach Brooke Wyckoff is excited to have Latson back, who had a spectacular debut season, including multiple 30-point games and key performances against Georgia Tech.

Wyckoff believes the return of these seasoned players with added experience will raise the level of the game, increasing overall competition in the ACC. This promises an exciting season with every game carrying immense significance.


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