So, outside of Pitts, Bello and Brunson, playing time is up for grabs on Whalen’s team. Much should go to redshirt junior Gadiva Hubbard, who missed all of last season with a foot injury but averaged 13.2 points per game the previous two seasons while shooting nearly 35 percent from 3-point range — an addition which helps ease the loss of Bell. After that, there are five freshmen competing for spots, along with senior Masha Adashchyk, a transfer from Panola College in Carthage, Tex.
The top freshman contender to help with that is Jasmine Powell, a four-star recruit ranked in the top 100 of her class by ESPN. Stillwater’s Sara Scalia joins the backcourt crew. Klarke Sconiers, Grace Cumming and Justice Ross bring the next generation of bigs to a program that led the Big Ten in rebounding margin a year ago but doesn’t have a lot of size among the regular players outside of Bello.
“Powell has been a really great sub coming in, backup for (Brunson) at 1, 1 and 2 really,” Whalen said. “Sara Scalia has really had a really good fall, so we’re all excited about what she brings. I think one of the bigs is going to have to come in and contribute, as well. Between Klarke and Grace, one or both — right now it’s still pretty wide open as far as rotations and things like that, so everybody’s got a chance to keep competing.”