After the Seton Hall women’s basketball team finished its 2016-17 season with a 12-19 overall record, an impressive group of players joining the squad in for the upcoming season has it poised to bounce back to a competitive edge.
To go along with transfers Nicole Jimenez, Inja Butina and Donnaizha Fountain, incoming freshmen Selena Philoxy and Kimi Evans are primed to come in and have an immediate impact on the young squad.
Philoxy, a 6-foot, 1-inch forward from New York, comes to Seton Hall as a three-star recruit, according to ESPN, and has been heralded for passing ability, unselfishness and basketball IQ.
“She’s an extremely unselfish player,” head coach Tony Bozzella said of Philoxy. “The thing that impressed me most about her as a player is she’s very cerebral in how she plays. She passes the ball well, has great vision, great handle and most importantly a great feel for the game. She has a chance to be a really unique and special player.”
Philoxy played on a state championship team in New York and, as she brings a winning pedigree to the table, her accomplishments align well with incoming freshman Evans’ impressive resume.
Playing for Shore Conference powerhouse St. John Vianney, Evans won two state championships and appeared in numerous Shore
Conference Tournament Championship games.
Evans, a 6-foot, 4-inch center, had heavy experience winning and success on her high school team, and that was something that appealed to Bozzella and his staff as they recruited her.
“Her winning is something that really sold us,” Bozzella said. “She’s a two-time state championship and she’s been great as a player and a person who does everything necessary to win.”
Both players will get the chance to compete for playing time in 2017, but with a solid core to learn from, Bozzella doesn’t feel like there is a need to force them into action.
“I think they’ll both have an opportunity to play and the great part of it is they have great kids that they can learn from, play behind and get better,” Bozzella said. “They’re both unique in the way they play and they’re different than what we have, but they’re not going to be forced into having to play, which is the best of both worlds for us.”
Also joining the team in 2017 will be Taylor Brown and Tyeisha Smith, both of whom have sat out a year of playing time.
Brown transferred to Seton Hall following her freshman season at Western Kentucky and has received some high praise in her time at Seton Hall, with Bozzella even saying that Brown could be one of the best players in the Big East.
Bozzella also feels that Brown took advantage of her year off, using her redshirt year as a chance to strengthen her game.
“Believe it or not, Taylor has gotten stronger and is in better shape,” Bozzella said. “She’s done an excellent job working with her strength coach and in her year off I feel she’s done a great job getting into better shape and getting ready to compete physically in the Big East.”
Smith comes on board after she redshirted in her freshman year. Her arrival brings some added depth to an already loaded guard position for the Pirates.
“Ty’s got a tremendous amount of ability,” Bozzella said. “She can shoot the three, she’s a strong physical guard and I think once she gets her feet under her, she can be one of the most explosive players in our league.”
It is a group of incoming players that has Bozzella excited for 2017-18, and in his fifth season at the helm and with a strong young core returning, Bozzella thinks he has something special on his hands.
“In my fifth year, this is our most talented group top to bottom,” Bozzella said. “We have more depth than we’ve ever had in the past and I think this group is very eager and ready to get us back into the NCAA Tournament.”
Tyler Calvaruso can be reached at tyler. firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ tyler_calvaruso.