Women's Basketball Preview: Jackson State
2016-17 Record and Finish: 12-16 (6-12 SWAC); Missed SWAC Tournament
Key Returners: G Derica Wiggins, F Chelsea Causey, G/F Maria Conyers-Jordan, F Marneisha Hamer
Key Losses: F Kierra Adams, G Daisha Williams
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Despite narrowly missing the Southwestern Athletic Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament, Jackson State closed the 2016-17 season as arguably the hottest team in the league to the tune of four straight wins – three over eventual tournament-bound squads.
The Lady Tigers stand to return a bevy of last year’s corps and look to carry over that momentum this season. Head coach Surina Dixon comes into her sixth year, and with several upperclassmen in tow, there is likely a “win now” mentality on campus for Jackson State, who led the conference in overall scoring averages in the prior season.
Leading scorer Derica Wiggins (12.4 PPG) is back in the fold, and is said to be bringing a renewed focus and energy into her senior season. Considered one of the better guards in a backcourt-dominated league when she’s rolling, Wiggins may be primed for a big season.
Jackson State appears to have three breakout candidates in inside players Chelsea Causey and Marneisha Hamer and wing player Maria Conyers-Jordan. Causey (8.7 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 1.0 SPG) flashed potential as a legitimate difference maker but was limited to just 13 contests (six starts) in the 2016-17 season. Conyers-Jordan (5.9 PPG, 3.7 RPG) emerged as a solid contributor as well.
Hamer was one of the more efficient scorers last season, knocking down nearly 55 percent of her tries from the floor. With the graduation of post player Kierra Adams and guard Daisha Williams, the play of Causey, Hamer and Conyers-Jordan could be the tipping point for a successful Lady Tigers campaign. Perhaps Jackson State’s biggest advantage is the amount of in-game experience the team as a whole received last season.
Jackson State is able to return eight players that started at least five games last year, and seven of those players averaged double-figures in minutes.
Jackson State’s out-of-conference schedule features tilts versus Chicago State (Nov. 18), Nicholls State (Dec. 2), Sam Houston State (Dec. 12) and Memphis (Dec. 19). Jackson State opens the season with a home date versus Milsaps on Nov. 10.