The Dartmouth women’s basketball team rebounded from a disappointing ‘16-’17 season (8-19 overall, 3-11 Ivy) to go 15-12 overall and 7-7 in the conference in ‘17-’18, missing the Ivy Tournament by one game. The Big Green lose three important players to graduation, guard Kate Letkiewicz, forward Andi Norman, and center Olivia Smith. Letkiewicz, a second team All-Ivy selection, started all 27 games, averaging 14.0 points, 2.7 three pointers, 6.0 rebounds, and 36.9 minutes per contest. Norman started 25 games with 5.8 points, 1.6 made threes, and 2.9 rebounds in 21.2 minutes per game. Smith, who averaged 7.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 20.3 minutes per game, started 8 of 21 games before suffering a season-ending knee injury against Princeton on Feb. 10.
On Thursday, Coach Belle Koclanes announced the program’s five new members of the Class of 2022, who will attempt to help the team replenish its losses, build upon last year’s successes and, hopefully, move into the Ivy League’s upper division throughout the next several years.
Georgia Alexander is a 6’ 2” forward from Oak Bay High School in Victoria, British Columbia. This past season, she averaged 27 points, 16 rebounds and three assists in leading her school to the Island 3A championship. Varsity Letters named her one of the Island’s Top 15 players, stating “(Alexander) Has a feel for the game and a skill-set matched by very few in the province. Alexander can attack almost any matchup with her combo of guard skills, post size, and elite athleticism. She is a matchup nightmare.”
Katie Douglas is a 5’ 8” shooting guard from Blair Academy in New Jersey, the same school that graduated Dartmouth’s present starting point guard (and IHO’s Most Improved Player in ‘17-’18) Cy Lippold. ESPN lists Douglas as a 3-star recruit with an overall grade of 87. As the Big Green coach told Dartmouth Athletics, “She (Katie) is a perimeter scoring threat, especially beyond the arc, and loves to play up-tempo basketball. Defensively, Dougie focuses on pressure and positioning to disrupt her matchup.”
Jimena Abejon Fuertes is a 5′ 9” point guard, who will arrive in Hanover from Gijon, Spain. She is the younger sister of Candela Abejon, a rising senior on the USC women’s basketball team, and both attended the Institute of Secondary Education Labor University. Fuertes has been a member of Spain’s national U-14 team, as well as Regional U-12, U-14, and U-16 squads. According to her recruitment Youtube video, Fuertes’ strengths are ball screens, transition offense, court vision, and defense.
Veronica Kelly is a 6’ 2” forward from Chatham High School in New Jersey. Kelly averaged 11.4 points and 8.4 rebounds a game this season, while shooting 46 percent from the floor. She finished her high school career with 1,165 points fourth all-time at Chatham), 890 rebounds (first) and 282 blocks (first). As coach Belle Koclanes told Dartmouth Athletics, “V (Veronica) adds a strong presence to our front court serving as an immediate rim protector with length and versatility,” Koclanes said. “Her court vision, off-ball movement and screening ability keep the offense flowing and difficult to defend. V is an excellent communicator and has the ability to score inside and out.”
Rounding out the group is Asha Taylor, a 5’ 11” wing from Miami Country Day School in South Florida. Taylor averaged 4.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.0 steals, and 1.6 assists a game this past season, but her strength is in her defensive effort. As noted by the Dartmouth coach in the press release, “Asha is a gritty, hard-nosed guard who has competed at the highest level of high school basketball in the country at Miami Country Day,” Koclanes said. “Her passion for the game shows in her tireless work ethic and determination to improve every day.”