Last week, the Seton Hall women’s basketball program put the final touches on its 2017-18 roster by finalizing the signings of junior college guards Nicole Jimenez and Inja Butina to go along with Temple graduate transfer Donnaizha Fountain.
Jimenez hails from Miami and spent her freshman and sophomore seasons at Broward College in Florida. She averaged 15.5 points per game a year ago and chose Seton Hall over Florida Atlantic, Middle Tennessee and Coastal Carolina.
One thing that was a major selling point for Jimenez was the family atmosphere that she saw at Seton Hall.
“It stood out to me that they’re really family oriented,” Jimenez said.
To go along with that family atmosphere, Jimenez pointed out that former Seton Hall point guard Shakena Richardson sold her on South Orange.
“[Shakena] Richardson played a huge role in my recruitment,” Jimenez said. “Because of her story I was able to really trust that Seton Hall will have my best interest at heart.”
Joining Jimenez in the backcourt next year will be Butina, the Hutchinson College product from Zagreb, Croatia.
Butina had a highly successful junior college career, leading the Blue Dragons to a 33-2 record and the No. 4 seed in the NJCAA tournament last season. She also ranked top four in total assists in the NJCAA as a freshman and sophomore.
To go along with her time playing at Hutchinson, Butina has also played overseas for the Croatian U16 and U18 national teams, an experience that head coach Tony Bozzella thinks has played a major role in her progression as a point guard.
“I think Inja brings a level of experience that you wouldn’t get from the average high school or even junior college kid,” Bozzella said. “She’s played against women six to 10 years older than her throughout her whole career and she’s learned to be tougher, more physical and handle tougher situations on the court.”
As for Fountain, Bozzella believes that Seton Hall has found something special in the Temple graduate transfer.
“I feel that Donnaizha is the best fifth-year transfer in the country,” Bozzella said. “To get her was a stroke of good luck.”
Fountain averaged 12 points and 7.1 rebounds per game in her two years at Temple after beginning her college career at Georgia Tech. Her double-double performances against Villanova and DePaul last season put her on Bozzella’s radar as a player who can make some noise playing against Big East competition.
“What put her over the edge was her games against DePaul, Villanova and even South Florida,” Bozzella said. “If you look at her performances against them, it’s not like she scored all her points against lower level teams. This kid’s a player.”
Her talent on the court is undeniable, but Bozzella noted her intangibles as the main reason as to why he was so interested in bringing her to Seton Hall.
“We didn’t need a kid who was going to score 15 points a game, we needed a kid who was going to bring all these intangibles to the program and she was exactly what we needed,” Bozzella said. “I think she’s going to give us exactly what we were missing in terms of experience and leadership.”
With Jimenez, Butina and Fountain joining the program along with incoming freshmen Kimi Evans and Selena Philoxy, Bozzella has every reason to be excited about next season and beyond.
“This is as excited as I’ve been in a while,” Bozzella said. “Obviously because of their talent level, but with the kids that we have in our program now, they’re excited to get us back to the level that we were at. I think the kids that we have coming into the program are ready to go.”
Tyler Calvaruso can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tyler_calvaruso.