The 2022-23 NCAA women’s basketball season tips off on Monday and before the week is out fans will be able to see two of the game’s best go against each other when South Carolina meets Maryland on Friday.
Yahoo Sports breaks down the top players to watch from each major conference.
Aliyah Boston, South Carolina
Unanimous player of the year. Unanimous preseason Associated Press All-American. Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. National champion. Projected No. 1 WNBA draft pick.
There’s not much more one should need to know about South Carolina senior 6-foot-5 center Aliyah Boston. She’s the conference coaches’ pick to win her second SEC Player of the Year award and a full four-year sweep of All-SEC accolades. The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and Women’s Basketball Coaches Association have already placed her on the 20-player Lisa Leslie watch list for the nation’s best center. It would also be her fourth.
Boston, who was on the early roster for Team USA at the World Cup in Australia, averaged 12.5 rebounds (fourth in Division I), 16.8 ppg and 2.4 bpg. Her 30 double-doubles in 37 games led the nation. She holds a and can overtake more this season.
Honorable mentions: Angel Reese, LSU; Tamari Key, Tennessee
Caitlin Clark, Iowa
Iowa point guard Caitlin Clark attempting — and hitting — shots from the logo. She’s made it look so easy she that maybe just like Steph Curry, she’s setting a “bad example for young kids” who should work on fundamentals before flair.
That route is what led Clark to a unanimous preseason AP All-America nod in addition to her first-team honors in 2022. The 6-foot point guard averaged 27 points and eight assists per game as a sophomore, both best in Division I.
Her Hawkeyes were upset in the second round by a strong Creighton team, but are poised to make more noise with Clark and dynamic duo pal Monika Czinano leading the charge. The 6-3 center, who returned for a fifth year, averaged 21.2 points per game, ranking 12th.
Honorable mentions: Diamond Miller, Maryland; Taylor Mikesell, Ohio State
Haley Jones, Stanford
Haley Jones, another preseason All-American pick and 2022 first-team selection, is one of four seniors returning with an eye on another championship. The 6-1 point guard was named the Most Outstanding Player of that 2021 title run and followed it up with a similarly productive season, averaging 13.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.
"Watching her play as a young girl, she never was really stereotyped as a post player," Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer . "She really has a good handle. She has her head up. She's kind of the Magic Johnson of women's basketball."
Jones was one of to sign with Nike last month, joining Clark and Juju Watkins, the top prospect in 2023. She’s projected as a lottery pick with many placing her at No. 2 behind Boston, one of her best friends from their time at USA Basketball. Stanford is a title favorite with its experience and could win a fourth title, which would break the tie with Baylor for the third-most titles.
Honorable mentions: Cameron Brink, Stanford; Kiki Rice, UCLA
Elizabeth Kitley, Virginia Tech
Elizabeth Kitley, the reigning ACC Player of the Year, is one of the best centers in the nation and was named to the preseason All-American list. The 6-6 senior scored a season-high 42 points in the Hokies’ 84-81 loss to Florida Gulf Coast in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
“Kitley is one of the best basketball players I’ve seen in a very long time,” North Carolina coach Courtney Banghart said at ACC media day. “She’s basically a combination of Dirk Nowitzki and Elena Delle Donne with Brittney Griner-esque. She can just do a little bit of everything. So she’s really special. Hard for us to guard in so many ways.”
Kitley is “more determined than ever,” teammate Georgia Amoore , which should be concerning for opponents. She averaged 18.1 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game and will have the advantage of guard transfer Ashley Owusu out of Maryland. Virginia Tech has an ACC-best nine players in their fourth or fifth seasons.
Honorable mentions: Olivia Miles, Notre Dame; Hailey Van Lith, Louisville; Diamond Johnson, NC State; Dyaisha Fair, Syracuse
Ashley Joens, Iowa State
Ashley Joens, a second-team All-American and preseason nominee, opted to take advantage of the extra year of eligibility and come back for a fifth season. She already leads all active players in the nation in career points (2,369) and took the Cyclones to the Sweet 16 last year.
The 6-1 guard/forward averaged 18.8 points on 43% shooting, 8.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. She was a projected first-round pick in the 2022 WNBA mock drafts and teams liked her versatility, head coach Bill Fennelly . But they’ll work on improvements in small areas like limiting her turnovers (two per game last year), improving her shooting clip and becoming a better defender.
Honorable mentions: Rori Harmon, Texas; Aijha Blackwell, Baylor
Aneesah Morrow, DePaul
Aneesah Morrow was named a preseason All-American as a sophomore and is the first DePaul player to earn the honor since Latasha Byears in 1995. The AP started its women’s team announcements ahead of the 1994-95 season.
The 6-1 forward is the reigning WBCA and USBWA National Freshman of the Year and earned a spot as a Second Teamer on the AP All-American team following a record-shattering rookie season. She led the nation in rebounding (13.8 ppg), led the team in scoring (21.9 ppg) and put up 27 double-doubles, three short of Boston’s nation-leading total.
Her 30 points and 14 rebounds nearly put DePaul over UConn in a December conference meeting last year. The Huskies won by a layup in the final two seconds.
Honorable mentions: Azzi Fudd, UConn; Maddy Siegrist, Villanova
Myah Selland, South Dakota State
Myah Selland, the 2020-21 Summit League player of the year, led South Dakota State to a runner-up finish in the conference and a WNIT championship after dealing with an injury early in the season. She averaged 14.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.1 steals in 24.8 minutes per game last season.
The 6-1 senior redshirt forward went 51.5% from the field and improved her 3-point shooting to 46.6% (48-of-103). It was 25 more attempts than any of her five years and bested the 36.4% (16-of-44) clip she posted as a freshman.
Her Hoop Stats presents a named for the Las Vegas Aces’ championship coach. South Dakota’s Ciara Duffy won the inaugural award and Florida Gulf Coast shooter Kierstan Bell, who won a title with the Aces in September, won it in 2021 and ’22.
Honorable mentions: Tishara Morehouse, Florida Gulf Coast; Julia Cunningham, Princeton; Destinee Wells, Belmont