By Brent Cahwee, NDNSPORTS.COM
To celebrate the start of the 2013-14 college basketball season, we want to highlight some players to watch from Indian country this year. Colleges all across the country have many athletes representing dozens of tribes and participating in a variety of divisions, such as the NJCAA, NAIA, and all the divisions of NCAA. Indian country will have many newcomers that will look to make significant impacts for their teams as well as others players that have already established themselves as the best players in the country.
This is not by any means a complete list of every single native athlete that is participating in college basketball, this is just a small taste of players we have noticed over the past few years that could have an impact right away or will continue to have an impact for their university. There are some names you will know and others we hope you will learn. For the latest list of Native American college athletes participating in sports at all levels, check out our website ndnsports.com to see our college-athletes section to see a list of names we have compiled.
Now to start it off:
10. Preston Wynne, (Spokane Tribe) a 6-1 senior guard for Vanguard University out of Costa Mesa, California, is described as a good scorer who can really shoot the three and get to the rim. He’s great on-ball defender and can play all back-court positions. Last season Preston averaged 18 points a game and led the team in scoring with a total of 508 points, he also led the team in blocks with 22. Prior to playing at Vanguard, Preston spent a few years at Spokane Community College where he became the all-time leading scorer for a single season (702 pts.), and all–time leading scorer for his career (1228 pts.). Look for Preston to have an outstanding senior season and get some post season honors and accolades.
9. Lakota Beatty, (Lakota/Gros Ventre/Caddo tribes) a 5-8 freshman guard for Oklahoma State University out of Stillwater, Oklahoma, was the most heralded recruit from the state of Oklahoma and highest ranked recruit from Indian Country. During her time at Anadarko High School out of Anadarko, Oklahoma Lakota was named Gatorade Player of the Year, Parade All-American, and named to Oklahoman Super 5 team both her junior and senior years. She led the Warriors to a state championship her junior year and semi-finals her senior year. Lakota finished her career with 2,032 points and was a McDonalds All-American nominee. The Oklahoma State cowgirls are currently ranked 21st in the nation. Look for Lakota to blossom late in the season, as she adjust play at the college level.
8. Keli Warrior, (Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma) a 6-1 freshman center for Haskell Indian Nations University out of Lawrence, Kansas, is probably one of the most underrated recruits to come out of Nebraska and Indian country. Keli is originally from White Eagle, Oklahoma, but played her basketball at Winnebago Public School all four years. Already four games into the season at Haskell, Keli has scored in double digits three times for the Lady Indians (22,24, & 25 pts.) and she is also currently ranked #1 in the country for total blocks (15) in the NAIA division and has six other national rankings individually. Keli has great size and uses it well under the rim and in the paint and has a gift for blocking shots. Keli is going to have a great career and has started well for the Indians.
7. Abby Scott, (Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs) a 6-1 guard for New Mexico State University out of Las Cruces, New Mexico, is a returning sophomore from Madras, Oregon. Last season, Abby played in all 31 games as a freshman and started in nine. Her first start of her career was against UT Arlington when she worked for a career high 18 points. She had four games shooting in double figures, including three in-a-row late in WAC play. Abby made 35 three pointers during the season which ranked third on the team and inaugural season with a .290 field goal percentage while averaging 13.5 minutes a game on the court. A starter this season, Abby already had 16 points in the first game of the season for the NMSU. Giving her size at the point, look for Abby to have a breakout season for the Aggies.
6. Bronson Koenig, (Ho-Chunk Nation) a 6-3 freshman point guard for the University of Wisconsin out of Madison, Wisconsin, comes to Madison as one of the more heralded players in recent memory. Koenig Ranked No. 73 in the Class of 2013 by Rivals.com and has performed on some of the biggest stages, leading La Crosse Aquinas to Wisconsin state championships in both 2011 and 2013. Named Wisconsin Player of the Year by the Associated Press during his senior campaign Bronson averaged 17.0 points and 4.4 assists per game while shooting 45.5 percent from 3-point range. Bronson has been described as having exceptional court vision and a great feel for the game. He has the ability to take over a game or make plays for his teammates.
5. Shauna Long, (Standing Rock Sioux) a 5-4 junior guard for Lamar University out of Beaumont, Texas, is a returning junior for the Cardinals and is primarily a three point specialist. Last season Shauna appeared in 30 games for Lamar and finished second on team with 33 3-pointers made. She also finished third on the team in three pointers made as a freshman. Prior to Lamar, Shauna played varsity basketball for six seasons, beginning in the seventh grade, for Standing Rock High School. In her senior year, she was runner-up for Miss Basketball in North Dakota and she was the second leading scorer in North Dakota history with 2,839 career points. In her first game this season, Shauna knocked down 4 three pointers for the Cardinals against Oklahoma State. Look for Shauna to continue to be the outside threat for the Cardinals and possibly some conference accolades as well if she continues her great start to her junior season.
4. Seth Youngblood, (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma) is a 6-1 freshman guard for the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith and comes to the Lions from Roland, Oklahoma and as its top recruit. In High School Seth was three-time Times Record Oklahoma All-Area Player of the Year. During his senior year in the Class 4A State Championship Game, he scored 41 points and had a school-record 9 3-pointers. He led the Roland Rangers in scoring by averaging 24.9 points per game, was the team leader in steals (2.3), blocked shots (1.2) and deflections (2.6) and was also second on the team in assists (2.6) and rebounds (4.6). In his first career start for the UAFS Lions he scored 16 points and was the leading scorer for the Lions against the Texas Christian University (TCU) Horned Frogs. He followed up that performance in the Lions home opener by leading the Lions in scoring again with 24 points against Central Baptist College. Youngblood will see most of his scoring come from outside the arc, but look for him to get points from the charity stripe should teams try to neutralize his range.
3. Tesha Buck, (Prairie Island Indian Community) is a 5-11 freshman guard for the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay and comes to the Phoenix from Red Wing, Minnesota. In High School, Tesha Guided Red Wing to three consecutive state tournaments with championships in (2011, 2012), including a runner-up finish in 2013. She is the Red Wing’s all-time leading scorer, amassing over 2,000 points and she was a Minnesota Girls’ Basketball Coaches Association 2012 and 2013 All-State selection. Also during her senior year, Tesha earned all-conference honors and was the all-area player of the year. In Tesha’s first two exhibition games for the Phoenix she scored 14 points against St. Cloud State and 9 points against Northern Michigan. Those performance were good enough to get her named as a starter in the Phoenix home opener against Northern Illinois University where she became the first true freshman to start since the 2009 season for the Phoenix. In that home opener, Tesha had 9 points and 5 assist in the 78-44 victory. Already off to a wonderful start for a true freshman, Tesha will be a staple in a new team that lost 4 seniors and won the Horizon League championship last season.
2. Marshal Henderson, (Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma) a 6-2 senior guard for the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) out of University, Mississippi, is a returning starter to a team that made an improbable run through the South Eastern Conference (SEC) tournament last season to beat then #13 ranked Florida Gators to reach the NCAA tournament. Marshall was the leading scorer for the SEC last season and was named the SEC player of the year but CBS Sports and newcomer of the year by the Associated Press. Marshall earned All-SEC first team honors from the Blue Ribbon Yearbook and NBCSports.com and second team honors from the Associated Press and the league’s coaches. He won the Howell Trophy as the best college basketball player in Mississippi and was named to the US Basketball Writers Association All-District team. Marshall played in all 36 games with 33 starts and averaged 20.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Marshall also set an SEC record with 138 made 3-pointers and an NCAA record with 394 3-point attempts. Suspended for the first three games of the season, Marshall will return to the court on November 22nd against Mississippi Valley State University.
1. Shoni and Jude Schimmel, (Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation). What hasn’t been said or written about the dynamic duo of sisters that have taken women’s college basketball and Indian country by storm. Shoni, described as a more flashy and “rez” ball style player and Jude, described as a more steady and blue collar player, helped lead the Louisville Cardinals to an appearance in the 2013 women’s national championship game by making an improbable run through the women’s NCAA tournament by beating then #1 ranked Baylor in what was has been called the women’s game of the century. The lady cardinals also beat Tennessee and California to reach the championship game making the sisters the first Native Americans from a reservation to play in the NCAA championship game. Going into this season, Shoni has already been named to the John Wooden preseason watch list for Player of the Year. Jude was named an NCAA Elite 89 award winner at last year’s final four, which is an award for the player with the highest GPA in the Final Four. Already off to an undefeated start to this season, both Shoni and Jude have had double digit scoring in the first few games. Shoni will complete her final season this year with the Cardinals and Jude is a junior this season. The Schimmel family has encouraged to all those that can make it to make Shoni’s final game on March 3rd, 2014 as the Cardinals will host the UCONN Huskies.
Best of luck to all of these athletes as well as the other native athletes that are competing all across the United States. As we stated before, this isn’t a complete list of all the Native American athletes competing but some of the ones we think that should have big impact this season for their respective teams. If you have or know of any native athletes that compete at the college level, we would love to hear about them. You can submit them to us on our website at ndnsports.com via our Contact Us page.