NCAA Women: Bibby, Maley, Kennedy-Hopoate make it official

A trio of Australian representatives have taken advantage of the April college signing period to make their commitment to power conference schools official. 2014 Under 17 World Championship representatives Bride Kennedy-Hopoate, Anneli Maley, and Chloe Bibby. They join six of their teammates from that squad in making the move to college.

Chloe Bibby verbally committed to 2016 national finalists Mississippi State several months ago, and signing was never in doubt for the Dandenong Rangers WNBL squad member. Whilst Bibby’s impact was limited at WNBL level this season, her production for the national team has been solid.

The Victorian was the Sapphires’ third-highest scorer at the 2014 World Championships with 7.1 points per game where Australia finished 5th. Bibby is also in line to potentially be selected for the Under 19 World Championships side after performing outstandingly at last year’s FIBA Oceania Under 18 Championships. Bibby was one of seven Australians to average double figures, with 14.2 points alongside 5.4 rebounds per game in Australia’s demolition of the competition.

More recently, Bibby has linked up with the Bendigo Braves in the SEABL competition. The young forward has already made a strong impact for the team, dropping 30 points on Sandringham and being named in the Team of the Week earlier in the season. The Braves will be hoping to hold onto Bibby for the entirety of the SEABL season, but Mississippi State coach Vic Schafer will have the final say on that matter.

Anneli Maley narrowed her choices to Oregon or TCU several months ago. However, with the Ducks making waves with their Elite Eight run in the NCAA Tournament, the decision no doubt would have become easier for the Australian as the season progressed, and this week Maley signed with Oregon. Maley will join Under 17 World Championship teammate Morgan Yaeger in Eugene as coach Kelly Graves continues a long tradition of signing Australians, one that extends back to his signing of Kelly Bowen at Gonzaga.

As well as representing Australia at multiple tournaments, including two world championships, Maley has been a sensation at the WNBL level. The 18 year old linked up with the Adelaide Lightning midway through the season and immediately made an impact to help improve the struggling side. Maley was especially dangerous on the boards, averaging 4.2 rebounds per game despite playing under 15 minutes per contest. The rookie also averaged 3.9 points per game despite her limited minutes to provide a real spark off the bench for the Lightning. Highly coveted by many WNBL teams, Maley instead chose to follow her original dream of playing in college, and WNBL coaches will no doubt be following her progress for all four years.

Maley has basketball in her blood, with her father Paul a standout at Yale before starring in the Australian NBL. Paul averaged 20.2 points and 7.4 rebounds per game as a senior for the Bulldogs on his way to being named 1987/88 Ivy League Player of the Year.

Committing to Iowa State this week, Bride Kennedy-Hopoate took the road less travelled at the commencement of her college career by heading to junior college Northwest Florida State. In her freshman season, the center averaged 5.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game before transferring to Hutchinson Community College in Kansas. There, she would link up with fellow Australian representative and Syracuse commit, point guard Tiana Mangakahia.

Kennedy-Hopoate vastly improved her numbers in her second season, tallying an average of 11.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. The Queenslander also improved her field goal percentage from 47% to a far more impressive 53%, which was good enough for 44th in the nation.

Iowa State have had recent success with signing an Australian from junior college. University of Canberra Capitals point guard and extended Opals squad member Lauren Mansfield spent the final two years of her college career with the Cyclones after attending Midland College in Texas. Mansfield averaged 8.4 points and 4.2 assists per game in her time at Iowa State. If Kennedy-Hopoate can be as successful as Mansfield was, it will certainly be an ideal pairing for the next two seasons.

The 2014 Under 17 World Championship team could now be considered one of Australia’s most successful in terms of exporting players to the US. Alongside Bibby, Maley, and Kennedy-Hopoate, six other players are playing at NCAA Division I colleges. Georgia Pineau and Taylor Ortlepp are both at Boston College, with Alex Sharp also in the ACC at Wake Forest. Morgan Yaeger has just completed her freshman year at Oregon, whilst Jasmine Forcadilla and Madeleine Dennis are each at one of the better mid-major programs, playing for Saint Mary’s and Dayton respectively. Furthermore, Tahlia Tupaea has been selected in the WNBA Draft by the Minnesota Lynx to bring the number of players from the squad with connection to the US to ten.