2017-18 Kansas Season Outlook: Underclassmen

LAWRENCE, Kan. – With its first game of the 2017-18 season just a few days away, Kansas women’s basketball will preview this year’s squad that features seven returning letterwinners and seven newcomers. The first installment of the Jayhawks’ season outlook highlights the underclassmen.

In his third season at the helm of the KU women’s basketball program, Brandon Schneider added three freshmen to his roster, while redshirt sophomore Tyler Johnson rounds out the freshmen and sophomore group. Johnson, who is in her third year as a Jayhawk, sat out last year after suffering a knee injury. The underclassmen will all appear in KU’s front court, filling an important role for the Jayhawks.

While not a member of the 2017 signing class, Johnson leads the underclassmen with two years of experience on the roster. As a freshman, Johnson led the squad after shooting 50 percent (75-of-150) from the field. The Leavenworth, Kansas native was the first rookie to lead the team in field goal percentage since Carolyn Davis in 2010.

“Tyler is our most skilled post player, there’s no question about it,” said Schneider. “She’s an excellent passer, she does a great job finishing around the rim with both hands and (her) range extends to about 17 feet.”Redshirt sophomore Tyler Johnson

After a season-ending injury sidelined her, Johnson utilized her redshirt year.

“Tyler is still trying to get in the kind of condition that is required not only at this level, but especially in Big 12 play,” Schneider said. “If she continues to make strides there, I think that she could play significant minutes for us.”

Bailey Helgren, a 6-5 center, came to Kansas after prepping at Edina High School in Edina, Minnesota. While at Edina, Helgren earned all-conference honors in 2015 and 2016. She also served as the team captain during her senior campaign.

“I think Baliey is someone who really had a great summer, and fall for that matter,” said Schneider. “She’s still a young player who has a lot to learn, but she has represented herself as somebody I think will have an impact on our team this year. She has a chance to really develop into a nice frontline player for us.”

Next up in the lineup of newcomers is Rayville, Louisiana product Micaela Wilson. The 6-3 forward prepped at Rayville High School, nabbing all-state honorable mention honors in 2014 and 2015. Wilson earned first-team all-conference honors and was named conference player of the year in 2016 to top off her high school career.

“Micaela is very gifted offensively and she knows that she has got a lot to learn on the defensive end,” Schneider said. “I think as she learns more about our scheme, our philosophy and develops the same kind of pride that she does in the other end of the floor, I think she has a chance to be an impact player. She is definitely a player than can make shots and has a really good basketball IQ on the defensive end.”

A 6-5 center from Plymouth, North Carolina, Brittany Franklin is the final member of the freshmen class. While at Plymouth High School, Franklin was named conference player of the year and helped lead her team to a conference and regional championship.

Ahead of the upcoming campaign, Franklin suffered a knee injury that will sideline her indefinitely during the 2017-18 season.   

“I think now we have to plan as if we’re not going to have Brittany (this season),” said Schneider. “If we get deep into the year and she ends up using her redshirt season, it wouldn’t be a bad thing for her. With her length and her athleticism, I thought she had just started to turn the corner in terms of catching on to how we want to play and what her role could be.”

On Wednesday, Kansas women’s basketball will take a look at the junior class, which features two returners and four newcomers.

The Jayhawks welcome Emporia State for their first of two exhibition games on Sunday, Oct. 29, at 2 p.m. inside Allen Fieldhouse.




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