With the addition of a new assistant coach, three top-100 recruits and a transfer, the Longhorns women’s basketball team is poised to build on last season, which ended in a Sweet 16 loss to No. 1-seed Connecticut.
While the Longhorns outscored the Huskies’ bench 32-12 and won the offensive rebounding battle, they shot 34 percent from the field and had 18 turnovers.
A series of runs put the Huskies up 52-24 at the half and the Longhorns were never able to recover, ultimately falling 105-54. Despite the outcome, it was the deepest run they’ve made in the NCAA Tournament since the 2003–2004 season, when the team finished with a program-record 30 wins.
With the addition of new faces, including Tina Thompson as the new assistant coach, the Longhorns could make an even deeper run and build on the momentum that led them to win nine of their last 12 games.
Thompson was named assistant coach in May after former assistant coach Jalie Mitchell became head coach at her alma mater, North Texas. During Thompson’s 16-year WNBA career, she won four championships with the Houston Comets, was voted to the All-Star game nine times, was named All-Star MVP in 2000 and earned two Olympic gold medals.
In addition to Thompson, the Longhorns landed three talented freshmen in Jordan Hosey, Christina Aborowa and Lashann Higgs.
Hosey, a Pearland native who ESPN ranks as the No. 16 recruit, led Manvel High School to a state title and only lost 17 games during her four years there. Her new teammates said she will be able to make an impact right away.
“We really need a four player right now, so I think that Jordan really has an opportunity to come in and work hard and really help our team as a freshman this year,” said junior center Kelsey Lang in an interview with Longhorn Network.
No. 72 recruit Aborowa will also provide depth at the forward position. The 6-foot-3 Nigeria native led Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti Catholic High School to a 29-1 record her junior year. Rounding out the group of dynamic freshmen is Higgs, a Bahamas native who is ranked No. 7 in her class according to ESPN and is a Naismith Trophy Finalist.
“[Higgs] can play up to 2-3 positions so that adds more versatility to our team,” said sophomore guard Ariel Atkins in an interview with Longhorn Network.
The rest of the roster includes 12 returning players, including four seniors. Vanderbilt transfer Khaléann Caron-Goudreau also joins the team but will be sidelined during the 2015–2016 season because of NCAA transfer rules.
“Last season, [the Longhorns] did some amazing things, and I can’t wait to join them soon to help the program to grow,” Caron-Goudreau said in an interview with Texas Sports.