Expectations are high for the Mississippi State women’s basketball team.
Vic Schaefer took the Bulldogs (28-8) to new heights last season: earning a top-10 ranking, an NCAA Tournament host spot and a Sweet 16 appearance. They bring back all five starters and nine contributors.
Two former Sun Herald players of the year could play major roles this season: West Harrison’s Ameshya Williams and Jazzmun Holmes of Harrison Central.
As a senior last year, Williams averaged 25 points and 14 rebounds and added four blocked shots and three steals for the 5A state runner-up. Schaefer made the 6-foot-2 Williams a signing priority.
“She was very active. She showed a lot of the skill set that we’re looking for at her position,” Schaefer said. “We looked at the roster that we had and felt that that was an instate player that’s good enough to play in the SEC. We’ve done a great job since I’ve been here of keeping those kids at Mississippi State.”
Schaefer believes Williams could be the best athlete on the team. He’s also impressed with her scoring ability.
“Ameshya is explosive, she’s long and she has the best vertical on the team right now,” Williams said. “She’s looked really good in some individual work,” Schaefer said. “She has that mentality a lot like Victoria (Vivians) which is good.”
Schaefer is anxious to see how the young freshman handles college life.
“She had a pretty good high school career taking her team to the Big House and playing for a state championship,” Schaefer said. “I’m anxious to see how she handles and responds to being at this level and intensity with the demands put on being a student athlete.”
As a true freshman last year, Holmes showed talent despite averaging only 1.9 points and 2.2 assists off the bench. She played when MSU starting point guard Morgan William was injured, earning playing experience.
“I’ve been really encouraged with Jazz,” Schaefer said. “She got a lot of reps with the first team in the spring because Morgan was injured and then Morgan had summer school the first part of the summer. Jazz got lots of reps with the first group and looked good doing it.”
Holmes is poised for big things. Schaefer believes she understands what’s expected.
“I think her confidence is better and I think she has a lot better understanding of what being a point guard at this level is all about,” Schaefer said. “It’s not about scoring, that’s the least of your worries. It’s about making sure you’re running the team, getting people in the right spots, running the right offense and defending a little bit.”