Women’s Basketball: A Look at the Freshmen


Jan. 6, 2013; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans head coach Suzy Merchant reacts to play against the Penn State Lady Lions during 1st half at Jack Breslin Students Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The women’s basketball team has been on fire this season with a 13-2  overall record thus far. The lost only their second game of the season to Penn State 76-55. This was 13-1 for only the second time in the program’s history prior to the game. Suzy Merchant, the head women’s basketball coach, is in her 6th season with the team. The Spartans under her direction have won more than 60% of their games and they are one of 22 teams to appear in all of the past four NCAA tournaments. Who are the new women on the block for the Spartans?

#2 Cara Miller, Guard

Cara Miller, a 6’1″ player hailing from Dearborn Michigan’s Divine Child High School, was a four-year letter winner for her team. She also lettered in softball. During her senior year, Miller was named all-league, all-Catholic, and all-metro. Suzy Merchant was quoted saying the following about Miller:

"She was really timid and nervous to make a mistake and she was turning the ball over a lot. You know, with her, she wanted to be a Spartan and we believed that over time she’d be almost like a Taylor Alton; just a kid that needed a little time to develop. She has a good work ethic, her big guard body, her ability to knock a shot down and extend the defense. She does some things well, we just thought maybe give her a year or two and now we’re looking at a different player; you kind of build yourself into that. We’re excited about that opportunity."

It’s clear that Miller shows a lot of promise as a young player. It will be exciting to see how this freshman develops as a player in the next couple of years.

#5 Mariah Harris, Guard

Mariah Harris, from Kenton Ridge High School in Springfield, Ohio, tallied 1,500 career points as a high school student. She had a season high of three blocks in nine minutes during the December 1st game against Milwaukee after scoring her first collegiate points in the November 25th game against Robert Morris.  In her senior year, she was a second-team all-state selection by the Associated Press and Ohio High School Athletic Association and was a four-year starter for her school team.

#10 Branndais Agee, Guard

Branndais Agee, the 5’11” freshman from Cass Technical in Detroit, was second in the voting for Michigan’s Miss Basketball and was an honorable mention high school All-American chosen by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. Unfortunately, she tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee in a practice on December 13th. This follows on a recovery from a stress fracture in her left foot. This has taken her out of the season for 2012-2013.

#23 Aerial Powers, Guard

Another freshman who suffered a season-ending injury, Aerial Powers, 6’0″, hails from Detroit’s Detroit Country Day High School. As a high school student, she was a two-time winner of the Associated Press Class B Player of the Year award. She also received Detroit Free Press and Detroit News All-State Dream Team selections in her senior year. She was a four-year letter winner and three year starter. She tore the Achilles tendon in her left ankle at a practice on October 26th. She was unable to start this season following the season-ending injury.

#25 Akyah Taylor, Forward

Akyah Taylor, a redshirted freshman from Elkhart Memorial High School in Elkhart, Indiana, only played for a few minutes in her first game in the 2011-2012 season due to a neck issue she sustained. She had a slow start in the 2012-213 season after being suspended for NCAA rules violations. As a high school student, she was a four-year letter winner, and she held the record for total points scored: 1,719 at her high school. In the Big Ten Opener against the Golden Gophers on January 3, Taylor along with Jasmine Hines and Kiana Johnson scored a total of 35 points. It seems clear that she will contribute to racking up points during games.

So there you have it, the freshmen of the women’s basketball team. It will be interesting to see how they perform through the remainder of the season, and I look forward to seeing Powers and Agee take the court in the future.