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ACC players to watch in 2022-23

Elizabeth Kitley of the Virginia Tech Hokies returns as the No. 1 player to watch, but her teammate Ashley Owusu, Louisville’s Hailey Van Lith, Notre Dame’s Olivia Miles and others are worth keeping an eye on too.

Virginia Tech v Louisville
Elizabeth Kitley is poised win ACC Player of the Year again.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Swish Appeal takes you through the power conferences’ players to watch entering the 2022-23 NCAAW season. Here’s the third installment in our series: the ACC.

Shayeann Day-Wilson

5-foot-6 sophomore guard for the Duke Blue Devils

Day-Wilson led Duke in points and assists as a freshman. She has a complete offensive game, but will look to improve on 33.6 percent shooting from three and 69.2 percent shooting from the charity stripe. Duke is in good hands with her running the point, but she’ll need to step up if the Blue Devils are to overcome what was a disappointing collapse last year. They haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2018.

Cameron Swartz

5-foot-11 5th year guard for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Swartz wasn’t expected to be Boston College’s best player last year, but she ended up being the Eagles’ lone All-ACC First Team representative. She simply turned it up a notch when, after a slow start, she scored 29 points on Dec. 2. She became BC’s go-to scorer and was the one putting the team on her back at times, taking the pressure off Taylor Soule. Swartz can score at all three levels and has an offensive skill set that is worthy of being feared. Don’t overlook her homecoming to Georgia.

Morgan Jones

6-foot-2 5th year guard for the No. 7 Louisville Cardinals

Jones size makes her a formidable matchup. Her scoring averages won’t blow you away, but she did average 12.8 points as a junior and 13.8 points as a senior. She is a great addition to Louisville, which will again try to reload and contend for a national championship.

Hailey Van Lith

5-foot-7 junior guard for the No. 7 Louisville Cardinals

Van Lith’s confidence in her team even when the media is counting them out gives them an edge. Twenty points in each of the first four rounds of last year’s NCAA Tournament proves she is a big-time player and in line to move up the ladder of Louisville greats. All of things we saw from her as a high school prospect have come to fruition in college. She is as tough and physical as they come as a driver and has delivered on her promise to become a 3-point shooter with 94 makes at a 37.3 percent clip through two years of college.

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament - Elite Eight - Wichita
Hailey Van Lith hopes to return to the Final Four.
Photo by Evert Nelson/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Jakia Brown-Turner

6-foot senior wing for the No. 10 NC State Wolfpack

Brown-Turner is a familiar face in Raleigh, having now be a co-star to Elissa Cunane on two No. 1-seeded teams. In last year’s Elite Eight, she scored a team-high 20 points and made the incredible three that sent that game against UConn to double overtime. As a sophomore she had a 19-point game in the tourney and was named an All-American honorable mention. With Cunane gone, expect this crafty lefty to step it up a notch.

Diamond Johnson

5-foot-5 junior guard for the No. 10 NC State Wolfpack

Johnson’s numbers as a freshman at Rutgers were impressive. She recorded 17.6 points points and 2.3 steals per game while posting clips of 90.2 percent and 45.5 percent at the free throw line and from beyond the arc, respectively. She decided to transfer to a better contender as a sophomore and was an important piece to the puzzle for NC State. She makes up for her size with speed, phenomenal shooting and a knack for grabbing steals.

Deja Kelly

5-foot-8 junior guard for the No. 12 UNC Tar Heels

Kelly was fourth on UNC in scoring as a freshman then led the team in scoring as a sophomore as she increased her average by 5.5 to 16.5. After watching her high school highlights, I thought No. 10 was too low for her to be ranked in Hoop Gurlz in 2020. Of course, most of the players ahead of her have been even better than her though. Still, her game was so smooth and she made things look effortless. I watched her have a signature moment live in Chestnut Hill, Mass. against BC — a game winning jumper from mid-range with 9.3 seconds left. She’s definitely a special player and UNC will be relying on her this year as it tries to compete with the four teams picked ahead of it in the ACC.

Alyssa Ustby

6-foot-1 junior guard for the No. 12 UNC Tar Heels

Kelly won’t be alone, as Ustby is a worthy co-star. Listed as a guard but known for playing like a small forward, Ustby was fourth in the conference in rebounds per game last year with 8.6. She also averaged 12.9 points and 1.7 steals. She is a scrappy player who I think, like Kelly, will be ready to take on even more leadership as a junior.

Sonia Citron

6-foot-1 sophomore guard for the No. 9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

The reigning ACC Freshman of the Year, Citron is exciting to watch. She had a 29-point game last year and then scored 25 in Notre Dame’s blowout of Oklahoma in the Big Dance. She played fearless — you wouldn’t have thought she was a freshman.

Olivia Miles

5-foot-10 sophomore guard for the No. 9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

I couldn’t say enough positive things about Miles after watching her high school highlights. Her greatest strength is her passing; she was second in the nation behind only Caitlin Clark with 7.4 assists per game last year. She recorded two triple-doubles, the second coming in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. She was also a big part of her team’s offensive explosion in the second round against Oklahoma with 12 assists and dropped 21 points in the team’s Sweet Sixteen game against NC State, which it barely lost due to a clutch Raina Perez steal.

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament - Second Round - Oklahoma
Olivia Miles (with ball) is as gifted a passer as anyone in the nation.
Photo by Alonzo Adams/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Teisha Hyman

5-foot-8 redshirt junior guard for the Syracuse Orange

Hyman averaged just 6.5 points per game as a freshman in 2019-20 and was a medical redshirt in 2020-21. Syracuse dealt with a mass exodus after the 2020-21 season and it seemed like 2020’s No. 9 Hoop Gurlz rcruit Priscilla Williams (one of the few returners) and transfers Chrislyn and Christiana Carr were going to lead the Orange. Instead, it was Hyman and her 16.2 points per game.

Elizabeth Kitley

6-foot-6 senior center for the No. 13 Virginia Tech Hokies

Kitley is the reigning ACC Player of the Year and is predicted to win that award for the second year in a row. She’s a great inside scorer, has a mid-range game and was second in the conference in both scoring and rebounding last year. Her 42 points in the first round of the NCAA Tournament were not enough for the Hokies to advance, but this year there are key transfers who hope to help take Kitley deep into the tourney.

Ashley Owusu

6-foot senior guard for the No. 13 Virginia Tech Hokies

Owusu will bully smaller guards with her strength. She is good at drawing fouls, though has to be careful about relying on that. Hopefully she can continue to improve at the line as she has each year: from 73.2 to 76.2 to 79.7 percent. She has a wicked crossover and can quickly step back for a mid-range shot, which is a high-percentage look for her. When her finishing in on point, she can be a dangerous driver/transistion player. If Owusu can put all of the pieces of her game together, she has a very high ceiling, which is why she is a projected first-round WNBA pick. She gave Maryland fans three great years, which featured a No. 4 finish the year the tournament was cancelled and two Sweet Sixteens. Now, she’s a big reason why Virginia Tech is going to make some noise nationally this year.

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament - First Round - Maryland
Ashley Owusu (with ball) as seen in the 2022 College Park “bubble of death,” which featured her former team and her current team.
Photo by Greg Fiume/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Taylor Soule

5-foot-11 5th year forward for the No. 13 Virginia Tech Hokies

Soule was the heart and soul of BC women’s basketball and, like Owusu, she adds a lot of talent to Virginia Tech. She has already been on the All-ACC First Team (as a junior). though she missed out on that honor last year. She can put points on the board (14.5, 15.7 and 16 scoring averages over the past three years) and is a phenomenal athlete. She is a hustle player who is in great shape and incredibly strong. She was BC’s No. 1 defender and Eagle head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee has said that nobody goes harder at practice. Soule isn’t the greatest jump shooter, but she moves well without the ball to get herself open layups and is always going to impact the game in some way.

Jewel Spear

5-foot-10 junior guard for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Spear is just a lethal 3-point shooter and all-around scorer. She led the ACC with 18.3 points per game last year, as just a sophomore. She shot 40 percent from distance as a freshman with 58 makes and then went ahead and made 90 treys as a sophomore (36.3 percent). She will hope to carry the Demon Deacons into surprising some people this year.