What do you do when your team graduates the No. 1 scorer in the nation, and the top two scorers in program history?
If you’re Grand Canyon University basketball coach Trent May, you begin re-stocking the cupboard with the best talent you can find. And make the necessary adjustments to compensate for the losses.
GCU, which plays in the Division II Pacific West Conference, will take the floor next November without Samantha Murphy for the first time in four years. The 5’8″ scoring machine from Xavier Prep in Phoenix led the Antelopes to their best season in school history, as they finished last season with a 29-3 overall record and a No. 9 national ranking.
Murphy was the top D-II scorer in the nation, with 24.6 points per game, and finished her college career with 2,147 points to top the all-time list. And right behind her was Rosalyn Nelson, another local product, from Deer Valley High School in Glendale. She finished at No. 2 with 1,543 points and is also the all-time leader in steals and assists.
That’s a huge hole to fill on next season’s roster.
But May’s latest acquisition should help. He just picked up a Division I transfer who will provide some size at the guard position, but hasn’t really been tested at the collegiate level.
Erica Paskell will transfer in from the University of Texas Arlington, where she played as a freshman in the 2009-10 season. She saw time in 15 games that season, averaging less than two points per outing, on a team that just broke the .500 mark.
UTA had her listed as a forward, but GCU has presented her as a 5’10” guard who will have three years of eligibility remaining.
The coaching staff undoubtedly recruited the multi-sport athlete (basketball and track) based on her high school accomplishments. She was a two-time MVP at Grapevine (Texas) High School, where she averaged 12.7 points and 3.5 rebounds her senior year and was an all-district selection her last three years.
She will join an incoming class that includes a couple of other D-I transfers, a junior college All-American, and a pair of high school grads that includes a local athlete.
One of the most promising recruits, one that should be able to pick up a share of the scoring role vacated by Murphy, is Natalie Markovich from Basha High School in Chandler. The 5’10” guard set a single-game school record (for boys and girls) with a 42-point performance.
The other high school recruit, added just last month, is Myishia Watkins. The 5’2″ point guard comes from Mount Miguel High School in San Diego where she averaged 14.5 points, 8 assists, and 3.8 steals her senior season.
The transfers include two from D-I schools, Briana Martinez and Shelia Washington. Martinez is a 5’11” guard transferring in from Cal State Fullerton and will be a redshirt freshman, and Washington is a 5’7″ guard who played two seasons at Seward County Community College before signing with Mississippi Valley State. Washington will have two years of eligibility.
And the JUCO All-American is Deanna Daniels, who should provide some help to the GCU program right out of the chute. She’s a 5’11” forward from Las Vegas who averaged 18.5 points and 14 rebounds while helping lead Pima Community College (Tucson) to the NJCAA championship game.
May will have to blend them into a team that will have just five upperclassmen returning, three of whom – all forwards – saw significant court time. Jalisa Butler contributed 8.7 points a game, while Stevie Kamp and Joslyn Frazier each averaged just below five points.
The leading returning scorer will be Maylinn Smith, a perimeter player from Mesquite High School in Gilbert, who averaged 10.6 points in her freshman debut last year.
The three-time PacWest Conference Coach of the Year has his work cut out for him when November arrives.
(Photo: GCU Athletics)