The top 25 players in women’s college basketball 2019-20

Who are the best women’s college basketball players in the country?

We’ll leave categories to the Academy Awards. We’re not worried about point guards or centers, small forwards or big guards. All we care about is that you are better at what you do than someone else is at what she does. Score points, set up points or prevent points. Better yet, do all of those things. Just be excellent wherever you play on the court and whatever your skills.

After tallying the votes from Charlie Creme, Graham Hays and Mechelle Voepel, espnW ranked the best players in the nation.

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports1. Sabrina Ionescu, Oregon, G, 5-foot-11, senior

2018-19: 19.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 8.2 APG

She was No. 1 on this list a year ago, and let’s just say she didn’t hurt her stock by leading the Ducks to their first Final Four and winning the Wade and Wooden player of the year awards. There are the NCAA-record 18 triple-doubles; consider that someone who was third in the nation in assists had more defensive rebounds a season ago than the likes of Baylor’s Kalani Brown or Notre Dame’s Brianna Turner. But it’s not even about numbers with Ionescu, no matter how many she piles up. College basketball’s best player (and espnW’s preseason player of the year) should be the one people want to watch and the one who looks most comfortable knowing she’s the center of attention. Like Maya Moore, Candace Parker or Diana Taurasi, she should have a presence. Ionescu has it. — Graham Hays

Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images2. Lauren Cox, Baylor, F, 6-foot-4, senior

2018-19: 13.0 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 2.6 BPG

She has been the Lady Bears’ best all-around player the past two seasons. This season, we can expect her scoring average to climb more, and she’s an excellent facilitator in the post (3.7 APG in 2018-19). Cox is one of the top defenders in the country, too. She’s able to guard posts inside with her size and strength, but she has the mobility and instincts to guard on the perimeter. Coach Kim Mulkey also loves Cox’s competitiveness and leadership ability. Her scary-looking knee injury that forced her out of the NCAA title game late in the third quarter last season turned out to be a bone bruise, and she has fully recovered. Now her goal is to try to lead Baylor to back-to-back titles. — Mechelle Voepel

Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire3. Chennedy Carter, Texas A&M, G, 5-foot-7, junior

2018-19: 23.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 3.4 APG

Since her freshman year, Carter has been one of the most dynamic scorers in women’s college basketball. Some have questioned whether she takes too many shots; she averaged 18.7 attempts per game her first season and 20.4 last season. Yet it’s hard to argue with the Aggies’ wanting the ball in Carter’s hands most of the time because of how much she can make happen. For Texas A&M to be at its best, she needs to score and pass at a high level. Carter will be eligible for the WNBA draft because she turns 22 in 2020, so pro scouts will have a close eye on her this season. — Mechelle Voepel

Maryland Athletics4. Kaila Charles, Maryland, G, 6-foot-1, senior

2018-19: 17.0 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 2.3 APG

Making a huge improvement from freshman to sophomore season is something the greats do. When Charles did it, she became the face of the Maryland program, and now she is one of the best players in the country. Charles went from an All-Big Ten freshman team honoree who averaged 9.7 PPG in 2017 to averaging 17.9 PPG a year later, the best scoring average by a sophomore in school history. Her scoring and rebounding numbers dipped slightly last season, but her leadership and confidence were key in the Terrapins’ reclaiming the Big Ten championship. A relentless attacker of the basket and finisher in transition, Charles has virtually ignored the 3-point line in her career (seven made 3-pointers). If she can add just a little more range, Maryland’s chances for its first Final Four since 2015 and Charles’ draft stock go up significantly. — Charlie Creme

Eric Evans Photography5. Ruthy Hebard, Oregon, F, 6-foot-4, senior

2018-19: 16.1 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 67% FG

It almost sounds like a slight to say Hebard has been doing the same thing since the day she arrived in Eugene from Alaska. It’s not that Ionescu’s running mate hasn’t improved. She had the fewest turnovers and fouls during her time with the Ducks a season ago. She posted her best field goal percentage — best in the nation among returning players this season. Hebard has improved in any number of subtle ways. That’s also why she is easy to take for granted. She has been a consistent producer since she got to Oregon, but she has found a way to efficiently keep getting hers, even as Sabrina Ionescu became the best player in the country and Satou Sabally blossomed. — Graham Hays

Brad Horrigan/Tribune News Service via Getty Images6. Crystal Dangerfield, UConn, G, 5-foot-5, senior

2018-19: 13.4 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 5.9 APG

She was second on the team in 3-pointers last season (82) and first in assists (225) and steals (60). She also has a sense of the moment; Dangerfield took over in the fourth quarter of UConn’s Sweet 16 game against UCLA, and it was a good thing she did. She hasn’t let her small size be an obstacle in terms of her defense. From a leadership standpoint, it’s Dangerfield’s turn to be in charge for the Huskies. Coach Geno Auriemma has a lot of confidence in her, and he wants her to feel that way. — Mechelle Voepel

Miami Athletics7. Beatrice Mompremier, Miami, F, 6-foot-4, senior

2018-19: 16.7 PPG, 12.2 RPG, 1.0 BPG

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Mompremier proved that you can go home again. The Miami native’s decision to transfer from Baylor to the Hurricanes following the 2016-17 season seems to have changed the course of her career. She went from role player with the Lady Bears to star in just one season in Miami. By season’s end, Mompremier was as dominant a rebounding and defensive force as there was in the country. Her 25 double-doubles led the ACC and helped earn her first-team all-conference honors. Mompremier’s decision to return to Miami and not enter the WNBA draft gives her another season to improve her offensive repertoire against what should be a swarm of double-teams, and it puts the Hurricanes in position to challenge for an ACC title. — Charlie Creme

Eric Evans Photography8. Satou Sabally, Oregon, F, 6-foot-4, junior

2018-19: 16.6 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.4 SPG

You thought Oregon was finished dealing with a season’s worth of speculation about a star leaving early for the WNBA? Not so fast. Whatever Sabally’s plans for her future turn out to be, she will be eligible to enter the draft next spring. She spent a breakout sophomore season showing off the skills that should lead to a long career at the next level. The German-born All-American shot 41% from the 3-point line on five attempts per game and 58% from 2-point territory, so good luck guarding her with one person. She led the Ducks in steals and blocks, so good luck thinking you need to account for her on only one end. — Graham Hays

Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire9. Destiny Slocum, Oregon State, G, 5-foot-7, junior

2018-19: 15.4 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 4.5 APG

Slocum’s decision to leave Maryland after winning national freshman of the year in 2017 surprised many, but it brought her closer to home and more comfortable surroundings. The Meridian, Idaho, native was also exactly what the Beavers needed: a true point guard and floor leader to run an offense that prides itself on sharing the ball. Slocum’s 3-point shooting (36.8%, 67 3-pointers in 2018-19) also fit right in, but it’s her ability to handle the ball against pressure and willingness to have it in key moments that made her so good at Maryland and a difference-maker at Oregon State. She led the team in scoring and assists, and during a 14-game stretch in the middle of the Pac-12 season — right after Oregon State lost its best 3-point shooter, Kat Tudor, to a season-ending injury — Slocum averaged better than 20 points per game to keep the Beavers in the conference race. — Charlie Creme

Mary Holt/Icon Sportswire10. Christyn Williams, UConn, G, 5-foot-11, sophomore

2018-19: 11.7 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.3 APG

She made an impact early last season with her 28-point game in an 89-71 victory at Notre Dame in a -1-2 showdown in December. Williams had her ups and downs like any freshman, no matter how talented. But she scored in double figures in the last nine games of the season, including 19 points in the Final Four matchup with the Irish. UConn will look to Williams to be more impactful in every aspect of the game as a sophomore because she has the physical skills to do that. Her ability to be a dynamic scorer is going to be important this season, too. — Mechelle Voepel

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky11. Michaela Onyenwere, UCLA , F, 6-foot, junior

2018-19: 18.3 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 83% FT

She finished her sophomore season with a flourish, scoring 30 points against Maryland to propel UCLA to the Sweet 16 and a competitive game against UConn. That outburst against the Terrapins, in which she got second-chance points from offensive rebounds, didn’t miss any free throws and showed off 3-point range, wasn’t out of line for a season in which she established herself as one of the best players in the nation. She’s comfortable pretty much anywhere on the court when the Bruins have the ball, which makes defenses decidedly uncomfortable. Nor does a player who already averages a block and a steal per game lack for defensive potential. — Graham Hays

Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire12. Aari McDonald, Arizona, G, 5-foot-6, junior

2018-19: 24.1 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 4.6 APG

McDonald is next in a line that spans the likes of Kelsey Plum, Kesley Mitchell and Megan Gustafson to see how far a prolific scorer can take a team. Gustafson, in fact, was one of only two players to average more points per game a season ago than McDonald, who begins this season as the nation’s leading returning scorer. She takes a high volume of shots for Arizona, but her numbers aren’t merely the product of that. She’s an efficient scorer who could approach Plum-like efficiency if she sharpens her 3-point touch a little. And she hardly stops at scoring. In addition to the rebounds and assists, McDonald averaged nearly three steals per game. — Graham Hays

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports13. Mikayla Pivec, Oregon State, G, 5-foot-10, senior

2018-19: 15.2 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 3.4 APG

A quick look at the stats, and it’s easy to forget that Pivec is a guard. She finished last season third in the Pac-12 in rebounding (9.2 RPG) and fourth in field goal percentage (52.6). She is one of the most unique talents in the country. After her freshmen season, Pivec transitioned right into track and field, in which she threw javelin for the Beavers. As a sophomore she converted to point guard, where Oregon State needed her, and the Beavers reached the Elite Eight. With the arrival of Destiny Slocum last season, Pivec moved back off the ball and became a rebounding force from her 2-guard spot. Her game isn’t always pretty, but it’s efficient and productive. Perhaps most of all, it is self-aware. Pivec understands her game and plays to her strengths. She can make the 3-pointer (41.7%, 25 3-pointers in 2018-19) but is selective. Pivec is about effort, relentlessness and will, traits that have become hallmarks of Oregon State. — Charlie Creme

Kiana Williams averaged 14.3 points and 4.7 assists for Stanford last season. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu14. Kiana Williams, Stanford, G, 5-foot-8, junior

2018-19: 14.3 PPG, 4.7 APG, 37% 3-point FG

Williams was the first Stanford player in nearly a decade to average as many as 4.5 assists per game. Partly that’s because the Cardinal traditionally pass the ball so well as a team that they spread the assists around. But it’s also because, even by Stanford standards, Williams is a special kind of guard. Assists aside, she’s much more than a pass-first playmaker coming off USA Basketball experience this summer. She is already climbing the charts as one of Stanford’s prolific 3-point shooters. There’s a subtle confidence in the way she plays and the way she holds her follow-through on 3-point attempts that can be contagious for a lineup. — Graham Hays

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports15. Megan Walker, UConn, F, 6-foot-1, junior

2018-19: 12.1 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.9 APG

Every few seasons, there is a passing of the torch at UConn. With the departures of Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson, it might be Walker’s time to take the role of lead Husky. The No. 1 recruit in the 2017 class has yet to play like a star, but the strides she made last year in doubling her scoring and rebounding from her freshman season (5.8 PPG, 3.3 RPG) indicate that could be on the way. A 34-point effort against Tulane in January and a double-double in the Elite Eight against Louisville flashed the ability that comes with increased confidence. The next step will be finding the consistency that is demanded in Storrs. Walker became a much better finisher and 3-point shooter as a sophomore. This season she might need to be creator — and certainly more of a leader, too. — Charlie Creme

John Jones/Icon Sportswire16. Bella Alarie, Princeton, G/F, 6-foot-4, senior

2018-19: 22.8 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 3.4 APG

An Ivy Leaguer competing with Team USA is rare. Such is the talent of Alarie. A guard in a forward’s body, Alarie has continued to expand her game since she won Ivy League freshman of the year three years ago, learning how to play more in the post without relinquishing those perimeter skills honed as a young player in Maryland. She has become a bona fide force, regardless of the level of competition. This summer, Alarie was part of a silver-medal-winning Pan Am Games team and two bronze finishes in international 3-on-3 tournaments. Last season, she won her second straight Ivy League Player of the Year award, despite missing eight games following a preseason arm injury. She is expected to dominate at Princeton yet again and set herself up for a WNBA career. — Charlie Creme

Britney Howard/UK Athletics17. Rhyne Howard, Kentucky, G, 6-foot-2, sophomore

2018-19: 16.4 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 2.3 APG

She was the national freshman of the year last season, a big guard who can do everything. She had almost the same number of made 3-pointers (74) as she did assists (75) and steals (68). She also had a productive summer, averaging a team-best 13.1 PPG to help lead the United States to the U-19 World Cup title in Bangkok, Thailand. Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said Howard can influence games in so many ways, which is particularly important with the Wildcats having lost guards Maci Miller and Taylor Murray from last year’s team. — Mechelle Voepel

John Byrum/Icon Sportswire18. Chelsea Dungee, Arkansas, G, 5-foot-11, junior

2018-19: 20.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.6 APG

The SEC tournament last March provided a national coming out party for Dungee. On consecutive nights, she scored 31 points against Georgia and South Carolina, propelling the 10th-seeded Razorbacks into the championship game. That was no fluke. The former Oklahoma transfer had long since established herself as a big-time scorer. She had three 30-point and one 40-point game prior to the SEC tournament and ranked second in the league to Texas A&M’s Chennedy Carter in points per game. Dungee set the school record for points in a season, with 759. Unafraid of any defense or any situation, Dungee is in constant attack mode. Her 275 free throw attempts were the second-most in the country (she made 83.3% of them). Now that Dungee has a full SEC season of experience, a national scoring title is not out of the question. — Charlie Creme

David Stacy/Icon Sportswire19. Tynice Martin, West Virginia, G, 5-foot-11, senior

2018-19: 18.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.7 APG

There’s no doubt about Martin’s ability to score at an elite level, but there’s uncertainty about whether she will play this season after she was arrested this summer on charges of domestic battery. Martin missed the 2017-18 season after suffering a foot injury during USA Basketball team trials in the summer of 2017. She could have left for the WNBA after last season but opted to return for her redshirt senior season in Morgantown. If she’s allowed to play, she’ll again be one of the top talents in the Big 12. — Mechelle Voepel

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports20. DiJonai Carrington, Stanford, G, 5-foot-11, senior

2018-19: 14.0 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.1 SPG

She more than held her own with 17 points and seven rebounds against Team USA in an exhibition, so she’s ready and raring to go for the sequel to her breakout sophomore season. Stanford’s leader in getting to the free throw line a season ago (157 attempts), Carrington made almost as many 2-point field goals as since-departed leading scorer Alanna Smith. That speaks to the kind of versatile inside-outside game Carrington is able to play. She has the range to stretch defenses, as Tennessee learned the hard way last season (she hit 4-of-5 3-point attempts). She has that special knack for being able to do everything without always needing to be the center of everything. — Graham Hays

David Allio/Icon Sportswire21. Kiah Gillespie, Florida State, F, 6-foot-2, senior

2018-19: 16.2 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 1.8 APG

A role player at Maryland for two seasons, Gillespie (who sat out 2017-18 after transferring) landed in Tallahassee with a bang, instantly becoming the foundation for a team decimated by injuries and without a senior on the roster. Coach Sue Semrau gave Gillespie the keys to the offense last season, and she took off, becoming the first player in program history to lead the team in scoring, rebounding and 3-pointers. While she launched 172 shots from beyond the arc (30.8%), most of Gillespie’s success comes from her outstanding footwork and touch around the basket (48.9% on 2-pointers). Her 13 double-doubles were good for fourth in the ACC. Gillespie will get more help in her senior season, but if the Seminoles are to challenge for an ACC title, it will largely be on the back of Gillespie. — Charlie Creme

David Stacy/Icon Sportswire22. Peyton Williams, Kansas State, F, 6-foot-4, senior

2018-19: 15.5 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 2.1 APG

The Wildcats’ two-sport standout is playing very well in volleyball as she finishes what will be her last season in that sport before her senior season in basketball. Williams still has eligibility for the 2020 volleyball season, but she’s ready to move on and focus on trying to play basketball professionally. She is a strong and durable post player. She started to add the 3-pointer to her repertoire as a sophomore and junior (combined 35-of-119, 29.4%). If she can improve that accuracy, it will make her all the more dangerous. — Mechelle Voepel

G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images23. Elizabeth Balgoun, Louisville, G, 6-foot-1, sophomore

2018-19: 14.6 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.6 APG

In her one season at Georgia Tech, Balogun won ACC Freshman of the Year, yet somehow played largely under the national radar. That isn’t likely to happen at Louisville. She instantly becomes one of the stars in a program that reached an Elite Eight and Final Four the past two seasons. One of the prize recruits in MaChelle Joseph’s 16-year tenure with the Yellow Jackets, Balogun decided to transfer amidst the turmoil surrounding Joseph’s dismissal and was given immediate eligibility. Twice Balogun scored more than 30 points as a freshman, and she averaged 1.6 SPG. She is the kind of two-way player who should fit well into Jeff Walz’s system as the Cardinals attempt to replace three starters, including Asia Durr, the program’s second-all-time leading scorer.

David Allio/Icon Sportswire24. Ae’rianna Harris, Purdue, F, 6-foot-1, senior

2018-19: 13.1 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 3.1 BPG

Purdue might be surrounded by the flat expanse of Indiana farmland, but playing against Harris is decidedly uphill sledding for opposing post players. A finalist for national defensive player of the year and the two-time reigning Big Ten defensive player of the year, she can change games without scoring a point (though with more than 1,100 career points, that isn’t likely). She already broke Purdue’s career record for blocked shots, and she’s more than 40 blocks ahead of Baylor’s Lauren Cox for the lead among active Division I players. Just for good measure, Harris is also among the Big Ten’s leading returning rebounders. — Graham Hays

John Jones/Icon Sportswire25. Shadeen Samuels, Seton Hall, F, 6-foot, senior

2018-19: 18.3 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 55% FG

Samuels more than doubled her scoring average last season to emerge as one of the best players in the Big East. In fact, the league’s reigning most improved player begins this season as its preseason player of the year. She’s a crafty offensive player. She has range, but she maximizes transition opportunities and is also adept at finding seams and getting to the free throw line. Samuels shot a remarkably efficient 61% on 2-point attempts last season. She is Seton Hall’s leading returnee in points, rebounds, assists, 3-pointers, steals and blocks. — Graham Hays

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