The LSU women’s basketball team got caught in a serious numbers crunch late last season, with a roster that at one time dwindled down to seven healthy players.
LSU coach Nikki Caldwell is on a mission to see to it that doesn’t happen again.
The Lady Tigers have picked up another transfer, albeit for the 2014-15 season, with the decision of guard Akilah Bethel to join the program from West Virginia.
Bethel, a 6-feet guard from Baltimore, played two seasons at West Virginia and will have two seasons left to play at LSU. She averaged 3.0 points and 1.8 rebounds as a sophomore.
Caldwell said Bethel could play any position for the Lady Tigers besides center.
“She’s got great size and quickness, and we’ll look to use her versatility,” Caldwell said. “She can do a little of everything.”
LSU is expected to announce another transfer for the 2014-15 season this week.
The Lady Tigers have signed four players for the 2013-14 season: 5-10 guard Raigyne Moncrief from Fort Lauderale, Fla.; 5-10 forward Jasmine Rhodes from Mobile, Ala.; 5-8 point guard Rina Hill from Japan, and 5-9 point guard DaShawn Harden from Johnson County (Kan.) Community College.
LSU returns seven players including forward Sheila Boykin, whose sophomore season was cut short in February by a diagnosis of Guillain-Barre syndrome. Caldwell said it still is unclear when or if Boykin will be able to play next season.
Bethel’s transfer from West Virginia continues a talent swap between the two programs that has been going on for several seasons.
Ayana Dunning played her freshman year at LSU in 2008-09 before transferring to West Virginia, where she just completed her senior season.
Forward Krystal Forthan transferred from LSU to West Virginia after her freshman season in 2011-12, but stayed in Morgantown only briefly before transferring to Utah. Forthan then left Utah and is now enrolled at the Academy of Art University, a Division II school in San Francisco, where she will be eligible in 2014.
Caldwell is heading to Colorado Springs next week for the USA Basketball U19 World Championship team trials.
The third-year LSU coach will serve as an assistant under Miami (Fla.) coach Katie Meier. The two helped coach the USA’s U18 women’s team to a gold medal last summer.
“It allows me to still coach in the summer and scout and be on the practice court in our offseason,” Caldwell said. “More importantly, it gives us a chance to represent something bigger than ourselves, to represent the USA.”
The trials will be held May 16-19. The 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship will be played July 18-28 in Lithuania. Shortly after that, the Lady Tigers will leave in August for a series of exhibition games in Spain.
ESPN women’s basketball analyst Charlie Creme has projected LSU at No. 16 in his early 2013-14 preseason rankings, something that Caldwell said should be a call to action for her Lady Tigers.
“You want to make sure they understand there’s more work to be done,” Caldwell said. “It’s a positive whenever LSU’s name is out there.”
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