Changing schools is a momentous decision for any student, as starting at a new school is a rough adjustment for students at any age, be it kindergarten or graduate school. For an NCAA student athlete, the decision to transfer schools comes with the added factor of having to sit out a year, so the perfect fit needs to be found to prevent a second transfer and another dormant season.
Four members of Seton Hall women’s basketball made this crucial decision, and luckily for fans aboard the Pirates’ ship they decided to make South Orange their home. Barbara Johnson, Alexia Allesch, and Alexis Lewis sat out 2018-2019 after transferring and return to the court the year. Jocelyn Jones is a UNC transfer who will sit out this year. A fifth transfer, Jasmine Smith, comes from the junior college ranks.
Johnson, Lewis and Smith all cited similar reasons for choosing Seton Hall over other schools who desired their services once they entered the NCAA transfer portal. Johnson highlighted Seton Hall’s family atmosphere and proximity as key factors.
“I was really comfortable here, so I felt like it was the best decision for me and I was closer to home so that made everything easier as well,” Johnson said.
Johnson is from Canada and a transfer from Ole Miss and has already contributed key minutes in the season’s first two games, tallying 14 points against Fairfield.
Lewis comes to Seton Hall from Iona.
“When I first put myself in the transfer portal, the coaches reached out to me,” Lewis said. “I loved their energy, I loved the way they coached and I knew this is the place I wanted to be.”
Smith chose Seton Hall because of the similarity between coach Tony Bozzella and her coach at Trinity Valley Community College in Houston.
“Coach Tony is just like my JUCO coach,” Smith said. “I really loved playing for my JUCO coach [Gerald Ewing] and I know if I could find a coach that was just like my JUCO coach I would thrive in the program.”
Smith and Lewis both believe their game will grow while at Seton Hall. Lewis thinks her growth will come from playing with committed and capable teammates and Smith looks forward to shooting more with increased confidence.
Bozzella believes the transfers have what it takes to right the Pirates’ ship, even asserting that they could contribute to an NCAA Tournament bid.
“I think the transfers that were in our program for a year know the system and have a chance to get better and do real well and really help our team to the next level,” Bozzella said.
Expectations for any team in the preseason are high but they are even higher for Seton Hall this year because of a No. 3 ranking in the Big East Coaches’ Poll.
“At the beginning of the season we’ll take it game by game but we are expecting to be cutting down the net at the end of the year,” Lewis said.
Smith added the main goal for 2019-2020 is to “hang a banner in the gym.” Hopefully, Lewis and Smith’s bold predictions come true and 2019-2020 is a year in which the Pirates bring multiple championships to South Orange.
Matthew Collins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.