CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern returns two starting guards to their roster and welcomes four newcomers as they open the 2017-18 season at home against Columbia International on Friday.
Returning Starters (Guard)
CSU junior guard Ke'Asia Jackson earned Big South preseason All-Conference second-team honors and is expected to be a big part of the offense this season. Jackson returns after leading the Buccaneers in multiple categories in the 2016-17 season, including points per game (15.0), field goal percentage (41.2%), and free throw percentage (82.2%).
Junior guard Rachel Burns returns as another vital part of the Buccaneers roster. Burns was third in the Big South last season in steals per game (2.1) and seventh in the league in offensive rebounds per game (2.4). She was third at CSU in averaging 10.9 points per game and third on the team in averaging 28.0 minutes per game.
"Coming back from last year, we had a very good year and our guards were a major impact on that," head coach Fred Applin said. "We have Ke'Asia Jackson and Rachel Burns back as returners for us, so we are expecting them to continue to be the leaders in the guards for us right now."
Lost Starters (Guard)
Charleston Southern lost All-Conference honorable mention nominee Alyssa Mann. Mann averaged 11.5 points per game and finished third in the conference in averaging 3.7 assists per game. She became just the 15th player in CSU program history to reach the 1,000 career point mark this season and currently sits among the Bucs' all-time leaders in points, rebounds, assists, three-pointers, and steals.
Other Guards Not Returning
Nayla Long, who averaged 2.5 points per game last season, is lost to graduation. Aliyah Abney and Georgia Elliott-King are also not returning for the Buccaneers this season.
Senior guard Shauntavia Dobson is the only senior on the roster this season. Dobson returns after connecting on 17.4% of her field goal attempts, 21.2% of her three-point attempts and 61.5% of her free throw attempts last season.
Back From Injury
Applin said that redshirt-freshman guard Anna Webster, who is returning from a season-ending injury last season, will see more court time this year. Webster is coming back healthy after only playing in five games last season.
Nelms transfers to CSU as a junior following an impressive two-year career at Daytona State College, where she helped the Falcons earn a top ten national ranking and the program's first bid to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Nationals her freshman year.
"We have some newcomers that need to come in and fill the void or play more minutes for us," Applin said. "Right now, we have Njeri Nelms coming in and I think she will relieve our guards and help us with that."
Hatfield comes to CSU as a freshman from Winston-Salem, N.C., where she averaged 17 points per game her junior year. Kailya Jackson comes to CSU by way of P.K. Yonge High School in Gainesville, Florida, where she averaged ten points and four rebounds per game. Ruff-Mills, a guard from Charlotte, N.C., played at Hopewell High School and averaged 12.2 points per game as a junior.
"I think they have done a good job this summer coming in and working. It will show in the next couple of weeks when we play against other teams," Applin said. "Starting out with Columbia International and then we have Lipscomb here. We will know where we are and what we need to work on once the season has started."
CSU opens the 2017-18 season at home against Columbia International on Friday at 7 p.m. The Bucs then host Lipscomb on Sunday at 2 p.m.