LSU's Reese leads way, 11 new players break into updated women's college basketball transfer rankings

Kristen Young/LSU Athletics

Nothing in recent years has changed women's college basketball like the transfer portal. And nothing might be as unpredictable. As the era of seemingly endless player movement dawns, forecasting how veteran players will do in new environments is no easier that gauging how an incoming freshman will fare.

Eleven players on ESPN's updated list of the top transfers for 2022-23 weren't ranked on our preseason list. LSU's Angel Reese has performed as expected and remains in the top spot -- but not too many similarities exist after that. Some players expected to make a major impact have been nonfactors. Others who were off the radar in October dazzled with their new teams in November and December. Injuries have been a large factor in some of the diminished returns.

Virginia Tech's Ashley Owusu, who was No. 2 in the preseason, has played in just seven games and is out indefinitely after finger surgery. Baylor had two players on the preseason list -- Aijha Blackwell (previously No. 3) missed a month with a leg injury, and Dre'Una Edwards (No. 14) has eligibility issues and has yet to play -- but no one on our updated ranking.

Tennessee brought in four high-profile transfers, three of whom made the October ranking. Only Rickea Jackson remains, and her spot is much lower than expected. The Lady Vols had a challenging two months and much of that was because the new players didn't meet expectations.

The same can be said at Texas, another team in the preseason top five that is no longer ranked. Neither Sonya Morris (No. 19 previously) nor Shaylee Gonzalez (No. 25) have played well enough to even be considered this time around.

The 11 players making their first appearance on our transfer rankings have done the opposite and far exceeded expectations. In some case those players have helped drive their teams to places no one could see two months ago. Many of them appear right behind Reese in a completely revamped top 10.

Angel Reese's pair of and-1s propel LSU to double-digit lead

Angel Reese gets inside the lane and draws a pair of and-1 opportunities for LSU.

1. Angel Reese, 6-3, F, Junior, LSU

Much has been made of the Tigers' soft schedule, but regardless of the opponent, Reese's production can't be ignored. She began the season as the top player on our transfer list and her eye-popping numbers have left little doubt she belongs there. Reese has a double-double in every game she has played and leads the nation in rebounding (14.7 RPG). Her 24.6 points per game come on a highly efficient 63.5% shooting. When LSU took a step up in competition in its final nonconference game, Reese went for 25 points and 20 rebounds against Oregon State. Previous ranking: 1

2. Alissa Pili, 6-2, F, Junior, Utah

After winning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year at USC in 2020, Pili was plagued by ankle injuries each of the past two seasons and decided a fresh start with the Utes is what she needed. She has reclaimed her health and is once again dominating the Pac-12. Her 66.4% field goal shooting leads the conference and she's third at 20.1 points per game. Pili's low post play provides a welcome balance to the wing play of Gianna Kneepkens and Jenna Johnson, giving Utah the second-highest scoring offense in the country. Previous ranking: Not ranked (NR)

Lou Lopez-Senechal shows off the range on 3-pointer

Lou Lopez-Senechal shows off the range on 3-pointer

3. Lou Lopez-Senechal, 6-1, G, Senior, UConn

When she elected to leave Fairfield and take a major leap in competition for her final collegiate season, Lopez-Senchal was expected to be a potential complementary piece on a national championship contender. While UConn is still very much in the title chase, Lopez-Senechal has been so much more than a mere role player. With the Huskies beset by injuries, she has become a catalyst, answering every call against the nation's toughest schedule. Lopez-Senechal is tied with Aaliyah Edwards as UConn's active leading scorer at 17.5 points per game (Azzi Fudd remains out with a leg injury), while shooting 51.6% from 3-point range and 96.0% from the free throw line. Previous ranking: 29

4. Gabby Gregory, 5-11, G, Senior, Kansas State

An undisclosed illness essentially ruined her final season at Oklahoma in 2021-22, when she fell out of the rotation, played 18 games and averaged just 2.6 points. Perhaps the biggest surprise on this list, Gregory soared immediately in Manhattan, a welcome occurrence for a team that was dealing with a season-ending injury to star center Ayoka Lee. With two 30-point games and a 24-point performance in an upset of Iowa, Gregory has taken over as the Wildcats' best player and is averaging 21.0 points and 6.4 rebounds. Previous ranking: NR

5. Makira Cook, 5-6, G, Junior, Illinois

The combination of Cook and coach Shauna Green, moving from Dayton to Champaign together, has transformed the Fighting Illini. For the first time in program history, Illinois won 11 games before Christmas. That is largely because of the play of Cook, who is averaging more points (17.9), rebounds (4.3) and assists (4.3), and shooting at a higher percentage (50.3%), than she did in either of her two years with the Flyers. Not even considered for this list in the preseason, Cook got everyone's attention with a 33-point performance in a close loss at Indiana in early December. Previous ranking: NR

6. Sammie Puisis, 6-1, G, Junior, South Florida

Despite being a top-50 recruit in 2019, Puisis never found her footing at Florida State. The long-distance shooting that was to be her specialty never developed, and the most points she averaged was 6.9 as a sophomore. Now the shooting stroke is back and she's flourishing for the Bulls. Puisis has given them a third scoring option with Elena Tsineke and Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu, and she has been at her best against some of USF's best opponents, with 22 points against Michigan, 25 against Texas and 20 against Ohio State. Previous ranking: NR

Maryland upsets No. 6 UConn in an 85-78 thriller

Abby Meyers leads the Terrapins to an 85-78 home victory over No. 6 UConn.

7. Abby Meyers, 6-0, G, Senior, Maryland

The change from the Ivy League to the Big Ten hasn't made much of a difference to Meyers. She is averaging nearly four fewer points (14.1) than she did a year ago (17.9), but she's shooting essentially the same percentage, rebounding at the same clip and averaging more assists. More importantly, Meyers has been the glue for Maryland, leading the team in minutes and serving as a solid complement to Diamond Miller. She was also the Terps' top scorer against UConn, with 20 points in their biggest win of the season. Previous ranking: 18

8. Stephanie Soares, 6-6, C, Senior, Iowa State

Despite being a top-100 ranked high school prospect in 2018, it was nearly impossible in October to project how well Soares' game would translate from three years at the NAIA level to the Big 12. Now the answer is obvious. She has flourished against the better competition and has been everything Bill Fennelly could have hoped. Soares, who's from Sao Paulo, Brazil, leads the Cyclones in rebounding (9.3 RPG), is second to Ashley Joens in scoring (15.8 PPG) and ranks third in the country in blocked shots (3.1 BPG). Previous ranking: NR

Stephanie Soares gets up for the rejection

Stephanie Soares gets up for the rejection.

9. Lasha Petree, 6-0, G, Senior, Purdue

It appears Petree's third stop is her best. After three good years at Bradley and one uneven season at Rutgers, Petree is excelling with the Boilermakers. Her 17.8 points per game lead Purdue, which has exceeded expectations at 10-2, largely because of Petree. Her scoring is off just slightly from her best season with Bradley, but her shooting percentage (48.8%) is 10 percentage points better than any of her previous four years. Previous ranking: NR

10. Esmery Martinez, 6-2, F, Senior, Arizona

A dominant rebounder throughout her three years at West Virginia, Martinez has provided the Wildcats the same kind of production and she should be a key part in Arizona's quest to knock Stanford from the top of the Pac-12. Her 9.8 boards per game rank third in the conference, and her 57.5 field goal percentage is ninth. Also a big part of Arizona's balanced offensive approach, Martinez is one of four veterans averaging in double figures (11.9 PPG). Previous ranking: 17

11. Brynna Maxwell: 6-0, G, Senior, Gonzaga

An above-average deep shooter in three seasons at Utah, Maxwell has taken her 3-point accuracy to another level in the Gonzaga offense. She leads the country, making 53.3% of her shots from beyond the arc through 14 games and is third on the Zags with a career-high 14.8 points. Maxwell has been a key for a Gonzaga team that has now been ranked for five straight weeks and went 12-2 in the nonconference, including wins over Louisville and Tennessee in the Bahamas. Previous ranking: NR

Rickea Jackson knocks down the jumper

Rickea Jackson knocks down the jumper

12. Rickea Jackson, 6-2, F, Senior, Tennessee

If not for a two-game suspension and the Lady Vols' early-season struggles, this ranking likely would be higher. As she has been her entire career, Jackson has been an effective and efficient scorer when she's on the floor. She leads Tennessee at 16.1 points per game and is second with 5.4 rebounds. However, her minutes (23.9) are more than six fewer than her previous season low, and the meshing of four transfers with the holdover Lady Vols hasn't been as smooth as hoped -- and Tennessee is a disappointing 8-6. Previous ranking: 4

13. Diamond Battles, 5-8, G, Senior, Georgia

With so much turnover on the roster and coaching staff, the Lady Bulldogs needed a leader and Battles, just as she did at UCF for four seasons, has filled that role admirably. Moving to Athens along with her former UCF coach, Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, Battles is averaging 15.0 points and shooting 39.0% from the field, both of which are career highs. The 2022 AAC Defensive Player of the Year also anchors a Georgia defense that has allowed just 54.7 points per game. Previous ranking: 8

14. Sydney Parrish, 6-2, G, Junior, Indiana

The Hoosiers have integrated their transfers as seamlessly as any team in the country and Parrish has been the best of the bunch. A top-10 recruit in 2020 who is now playing close to her Fishers, Indiana, home, Parrish is realizing more of that potential after two seasons at Oregon. Her 12.3 points rank second on the Hoosiers, who are a No. 1 seed six weeks running in Bracketology, despite senior leader Grace Berger being out with a leg injury for the past five weeks. Previous ranking: 21

15. Taylor Soule, 5-11, F, Senior, Virginia Tech

Owusu was the Hokies' transfer most expected to be on this list, but Soule has provided the toughness Virginia Tech didn't have last year. As an inside complement to 6-4 All-American candidate Elizabeth Kitley, Soule is a big reason why the Hokies have earned their highest ranking (No. 6). She is the Hokies' second-leading rebounder (5.6 RPG) and field goal shooter (52.0%) to go along with 11.6 points. Previous ranking: 20

Jade Loville makes the nice bucket against the Baylor Bears

Jade Loville makes the nice bucket against the Baylor Bears

16. Jade Loville, 5-11, G, Senior, Arizona

Adia Barnes turned the portal into three starters -- Martinez, Lauren Fields and Loville. The leading scorer at Boise State in 2021 and Arizona State in 2022 before landing in Tucson, Loville is second only to Shaina Pellington for the Wildcats at 12.8 points per game and is tied with Martinez for the team lead in minutes played. Her 3-point shooting (51.0%) has been a key to Arizona's 10-1 start, in particular the four she made in a key win over Baylor in Dallas. Previous ranking: NR

17. Kadi Sissoko, 6-2, F, Senior, USC

One of seven transfers for the Trojans, Sissoko has been the best. Long and athletic, Sissoko fits Lindsay Gottlieb's up-tempo style as a productive two-way player. Sissoko, who is on her third school after one season at Syracuse and two at Minnesota, leads USC with a career-best 16.4 points per game. Her shooting percentage also has skyrocketed to 59.8% after never making more than 41.5% in those three previous seasons. Previous ranking: NR

Lauren Ebo makes a nice move for the layup

Lauren Ebo makes a nice move for the layup

18. Lauren Ebo, 6-4, C, Senior, Notre Dame

While Ebo hasn't played as consistently as some other players on this list, she has given Notre Dame more than just a screen-setting physical presence. She has been productive. Her scoring (11.1 PPG, fourth on the team), field goal accuracy (55.7%) and free throw percentage (73.9%) are at career-high levels. In the Irish's two biggest wins, against UConn and Virginia Tech, she scored 12 and 15 points. Previous ranking: 28

19. Chrislyn Carr, 5-5, G, Senior, Louisville

The backcourt trio of Carr, Hailey Van Lith and Morgan Jones hasn't quite clicked yet, but Carr has shown some signs of being the player who was the Big 12 Freshman of the Year at Texas Tech in 2019 and recorded seven 20-point games in the ACC for Syracuse last season. Her 21-point, 17-rebound performance against DePaul last week was the best performance by a Louisville player this season. Previous ranking: 15

20. Sam Brunelle, 6-2, F, Senior, Virginia

Along with Mir McLean, who transferred from UConn after the 2020-21 season, Brunelle has been the foundation of a Virginia resurgence. Having earned her degree in three years at Notre Dame, but seeing her playing time diminish, Brunelle elected to transfer closer to home to finish her playing career. Her 11.7 points per game are the most Brunelle has averaged since her freshman season, and she is the leading 3-point shooter for a Cavaliers team off to its best start in 31 years under first-year coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton. Previous ranking: NR

21. Dyaisha Fair, 5-5, G, Senior, Syracuse

Another player who followed her coach to a bigger program, Fair has remained the same potent, volume scorer at Syracuse that she was at Buffalo. Felisha Legette-Jack needed a bridge player to keep the Orange competitive as she rebuilds the program, and Fair has been the perfect fit. She's third in the ACC at 19.6 points per game and fifth in assists with 4.2. Previous ranking: 27

22. Sara Scalia, 5-10, G, Senior, Indiana

Despite her scoring average dropping over six points per game from last season at Minnesota, Scalia has helped Indiana become a better team. Even with Berger out, the Hoosiers are in position to earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, which is a testament to the additions of Scalia, Parrish and freshman Yarden Garzon. As good as Indiana has been the past two years, that was never a possibility. While her 3-point percentage is also down, Scalia is still making two shots from deep per game, which is more than any Hoosier player averaged last season. Previous ranking: 13

23. Morgan Jones, 6-2, G, Senior, Louisville

Like her teammate Carr, Jones has not found the level of consistency with the Cardinals that made her an all-ACC first teamer in 2021 and second-team all-conference last year at Florida State. However, her 18 points were crucial in a much-needed win over Texas, and with double-figure scoring outputs in three of her past five games, Jones has shown signs that she is getting more comfortable in Jeff Walz's system. Previous ranking: 7

24. Chrissy Carr, 6-1, G, Senior, Arkansas

A starter in all but two of her 128 career games that also included stops at Kansas State and Syracuse, Carr slid into the Razorbacks' lineup immediately and really began contributing around Thanksgiving. Carr had a stretch in late November and early December in which she made 17 3-pointers and averaged 16.8 points. For the season, Carr is fourth on the team at 11.4 points, and she instantly became the Razorbacks' biggest long-range threat. Her 104 attempts from beyond the arc is tied for eighth in the country. Previous ranking: NR

25. Haley Cavinder, 5-6, G, Senior, Miami

The numbers from her Fresno State days were never going to translate to South Beach, but the transition from the Mountain West to the ACC has been smooth for Cavinder. She has been steady and reliable in her production from day one with the Hurricanes. She leads the team in minutes (28.2 MPG) and assists (2.8 APG) and is second in scoring (11.9 PPG) and rebounding (4.9 RPG). If her past two games -- 25 points against Florida and 17 against Florida State -- are any indication, then even better things are ahead for Cavinder. Previous ranking: 26

Also considered: Kennedy Brown, Duke; Brinae Alexander, Maryland; Saniya Rivers, NC State; Myah Taylor, Ole Miss; Alyza Winston, Florida Gulf Coast