CHARLESTON, S.C. – Three junior college transfers have been able to step in and make an immediate impact for the Charleston Southern women's basketball team this season.
Shelby Wilbanks, Njeri Nelms and Weknyne Dumorne all arrived in Charleston this past summer after spending the previous two seasons developing their skills at various juco programs. Through the first six games, each has shown that they are ready for the big stage of Division I basketball.
Wilbanks, a forward who played at Northeast Mississippi Community College, is tied for second at CSU in scoring with 8.5 points and fourth in rebounding with 4.7 rebounds per game. However, Wilbanks' biggest contribution doesn't show up on the stat sheet. Her ability to take a charge in critical situations of the game, has helped bolster the Bucs' success this season.
"When I look for charges, I'm looking for a momentum swing in the game," Wilbanks said. "If I take a charge and it hypes everybody up and we get the ball back, then we can go down and make something out of it. It really just domino effects from there."
Each of the three transfers admits that it was a big transition to make coming to Charleston Southern. Having lived in Mississippi her whole life, Wilbanks was excited to move away and try something different. She was ready to get to work from the moment she arrived on campus.
"I felt like I came and had a job to do when I got here," Wilbanks said. "I had a role to fill and I try my best to do that. I just love playing basketball and I try to do the best I can."
Nelms, a guard who played at Daytona State College, is the leading scorer for CSU with 10.3 points per game. The Pensacola, Fla. native had a career-high 20 points on 8-11 from the field and 4-6 from the three-point line in a 79-43 win over Erskine.
Nelms credits her ability to bounce back from a subpar performance in the season opener as the reason for her scoring outburst.
"I was ready from the very beginning of the game," Nelms said. "I didn't have a great game the time before that, so I was like this is the game where I can redeem myself."
The feeling that the trio got when they made their visits to Charleston Southern is what stuck with them most as they made their decision to come to CSU. The word "family" was one that was often used to describe how they felt around the women's basketball program.
"When I was on my visit, I just got a good vibe from the team," Nelms said. "Everybody was really cool and we got along really well surprisingly for my first visit. It was really the team that brought me here."
Now that Nelms is a member of the Bucs, she's thriving in her new role. She has set personal goals for herself and the team this season.
"I want to make All-Conference and I want to win a championship with my team," Nelms said. "I think we have the potential to do it. We just have to work hard and get it done."
Dumorne, a forward who played at Broward College, is averaging 6.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game this season at CSU. The Miami, Fla. native leads the team with 2.4 blocks per game.
Dumorne said that opponents are often surprised with how easy it is for her to block shots.
"Blocks since high school and junior college has always been what I've been able to do," Dumorne said. "It's probably my wingspan and just having fun when people underestimate my defense and being able to block them."
Dumorne said that she learned a lot from her previous coaches and she gives them credit for helping her transition to Division I basketball. She felt that not setting limits to her success really helped her become a better overall player.
"In juco, they really help prepare you to move to the next level," Dumorne said. "I give my juco college credit for that. When I was younger, my coaches taught me not to limit myself. Not to just be a post player, but try to be more versatile."
The versatility that each of the three transfers brings to the team has made the job a lot easier for head coach Fred Applin. He is confident that Wilbanks, Nelms and Dumorne are all pieces of the puzzle that have fit together to help create a championship caliber program.
"Each one of them brings something different to our program," Applin said. "Shelby doesn't mind taking a charge and sacrificing for the team. Njeri is going to rotate in now as a point guard for us. She is a scoring guard for our team. Weknyne is a versatile player for us. She can score in the paint and her timing of blocking shots is really good."
The Bucs will look for continued contributions from the trio as the season progresses. With such a young squad, there's no doubt that the future is bright for CSU women's basketball.