2013-14 Season Outlook: Forwards

Returning: Jr. Chelsea Gardner, Jr. Bunny Williams
Gained: Fr. Jada Brown, Fr. Caelynn Manning-Allen
Key Losses: Carolyn Davis

LAWRENCE, Kan. – In the final installment of a three-part series, the 2013-14 Kansas women’s basketball season outlook concludes with an in-depth look at the forwards.

The forward group returns proven talent in Chelsea Gardner and Bunny Williams, in addition to adding newcomers Jada Brown and Caelynn Manning-Allen.

KU will need to overcome the loss of Carolyn Davis (2009-13), who was just the seventh player in program history to post 1,700 points and 700 rebounds for her career. Davis started all 34 games and averaged 15.8 points and 6.6 rebounds for the Jayhawks during the 2012-13 season.

Gardner, who filled in for Davis during the 2011-12 season when she went down with a torn ACL, will be looked upon to be an anchor for the Jayhawks down low. One of Gardner’s biggest strengths is her rebounding ability, leading the team with 6.9 boards per game during the 2012-13 season. Gardner has also proven that she can play on the game’s biggest stage, tying the KU record for most single-game rebounds in an NCAA Tournament game, with 16 during her freshman season. Head coach Bonnie Herickson will look to Gardner to shoulder a bigger offensive load this year with Davis gone.

Williams’ game brings a physical presence to the group. After seeing limited playing time as a freshman, Williams doubled her time on the court during the 2012-13 season, receiving starts in five games. Like Gardner, Williams has also proven she can play when the lights are on. Williams controlled the paint and blocked a career-high three shots against South Carolina (3/25) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, to help the Jayhawks advance to the Sweet 16.

Newcomer Manning-Allen is nearly a copy of Davis physically and Henrickson believes she has the potential to get to that level by the time she is done at KU. Manning-Allen joins the Jayhawks from Curie High School in Chicago, Ill., where she averaged 16.0 points, 12.0 rebounds and blocked 5.0 shots per game as a junior.

Brown comes to Lawrence by way of Centennial High School in Las Vegas, Nev., where she led CHS to a 29-3 record and trip to the Nevada Class 4A semifinals as a junior while averaging 13.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. Brown comes in as the 38th-best player at her position in the class of 2013, according to Hoopgurlz.com, and was named Nevada’s 2013 Gatorade State Player of the Year. Henrickson will look for Brown to use her speed and quickness to create mismatches down low and at the high post.

Head coach Bonnie Henrickson

On Chelsea Gardner:
“She catches and she has good hands, but what we need to her to do is to rim-run like Carolyn (Davis) did and like Krysten Boogaard did and like all of our bigs have done, so we can throw it over the top to her. I think that’s a ball that Mari (Lamaria Cole) and those guys can throw. Chelsea does a good job around the rim and she has hit some trial jumpers, so she has become harder to guard in that respect; she has put it on the floor a little bit and tried to get to the basket. Defensively, she took the most charges of anybody in practice. I don’t remember her taking any in her first two years and she has taken three in the first couple weeks of practice. Protecting the rim is important for her, too. We need her on the glass at both ends and we need her to get out and run. Obviously, we have to throw the ball inside to her.”

On Bunny Williams’ physicality:
“She just has to be smart with it now that they are trying to limit the contact as far as displacement and things, so she needs to be careful there. But yes, there is an element to her game that is physical and she embraces that; she has always embraced that and enjoyed that. For her, the key will be to get on the glass and finish around the rim. She can space the defense and be a good high-low passer with Chelsea and knock down a shot when she is facing the basket, because we play with a big low and a big high. Defensively, she needs to work and use her physicality as a positive and get guys away from the rim who are trying to get a deep touch.”

On Caelynn Manning-Allen:
“When you think back to what Carolyn (Davis) looked like her freshman year, there are a lot of similarities. Now Carolyn, from day one, always got out and ran and Caelynn has got to work to get that piece of her game. She doesn’t have the hands yet that Carolyn had, but she is long and easy to throw to, like Carolyn was. With that back hand up and her back to the rim, that’s an easier ball to throw with her in there than it is with Chelsea in there. Carolyn was awfully special and Caelynn has a lot of work to do to get to that point. Can she? Yes, I think she’s got the potential to do that. She has to commit to being consistent and that was the thing with Carolyn; she didn’t come in here the player that she was when she left, but she didn’t take days off, she didn’t waste reps, she didn’t take drills off. It was really important for Carolyn to improve and get better. When we get that from Caelynn on a consistent basis, the sky is the limit for her. She is so long and she finishes around the rim like Carolyn could. She actually can score a little bit further away from the basket than Carolyn did at that age.”

On Jada Brown:
“She has a knack for the ball. She has led us in offensive rebounding, which is good. She can chase the play. When you think about the position she will play, she will play facing, she will play 15-19 feet away from the basket and use her speed to get by somebody and rebound. So, the fact that she has a knack for that is good, not everybody has that. She has done a really good job for us. Defensively, she is good. Her concepts are good, you can tell that her concepts are good because she doesn’t break down much. She helps, which often is the hardest thing for young kids to do. They have a tendency to stand next to their guy and want to guard that guy and forget that they have other responsibilities. So defensively, she has been most impressive and then her ability to get to the offensive glass is really going to help us.”

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