Virginia Tech Women’s Basketball 2021-22 Season Preview

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Virginia Tech women’s basketball has high expectations in 2021-22. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

Earlier this month, Managing Editor David Cunningham broke down the Virginia Tech men’s basketball team position-by-position. As Tech Sideline’s women’s basketball beat writer, it’s my turn to do the same for the women’s team, which enters the 2021-22 season with high expectations.

No. 24 Virginia Tech opens up its season on Tuesday in Cassell Coliseum against Davidson. It’s a 5 p.m. tip-off on ACC Network Extra, and precedes the men’s basketball game against Maine at 8 p.m. Full schedule: Link.

Here’s a table with the complete Virginia Tech women’s basketball roster for the 2021-22 season:

#NamePos.Ht.Class
2Aisha SheppardG5-9Gr.
3Chloe BrooksG5-10rJr.
5Georgia AmooreG5-6So.
11D'asia GreggF6-2Sr.
15Azana BainesG6-1Jr.
21Shamarla KingG6-0rFr.
22Cayla KingG6-0Jr.
23Kayana TraylorG5-9Sr.
24Emily LytleG/F5-11Gr.
31Rochelle NorrisC6-5rSo.
33Elizabeth KitleyC6-6Jr.
35Taylor GeimanG/F6-0Jr.

We’ll go position by position, starting at point guard.

Point Guard

Virginia Tech’s starting point guard is Georgia Amoore, who returns for her sophomore season. The Australian started in all but two of her games last season, averaging 4.6 assists and 11.8 points per game on 38.9% shooting.

Amoore now has a year under her belt. She was thrown into the fire last year as the Hokies’ starter, where she also had to adjust to the NCAA rules since she was used to FIBA’s more aggressive style of play.

She’s a more experienced player now, and that comes with a confidence boost.

“This time last year, I was super nervous because I didn’t know what to expect,” Amoore said. “I haven’t had all the experience, but I’ve had some of it to where I can go into any and every game confident and play. 

“Last year, I was afraid to make mistakes but this year I know what to expect.”

Now with a year under her belt, Georgia Amoore is much more confident now as a sophomore. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

Behind Amoore, and occasionally playing alongside her, is Purdue transfer Kayana Traylor. A senior from Martinsville, Ind., Traylor was an All-Big Ten Second Team nominee last year and led the Boilermakers in scoring with 15 points per game. 

One of the many things head coach Kenny Brooks praised about her, and Liberty transfer Emily Lytle, is their desire to just help the team. Brooks said they came to Blacksburg not concerned about playing time. They just wanted to be a part of a winning culture.

And it showed in open practice on Friday. The interactions between Amoore and Traylor, who have only played with each other for a few months, are fun to watch.

“The chemistry really developed over the off-season between [Amoore and Traylor],” Brooks said. “When deciding who takes the ball up the floor, they won’t need to say a word. They’ll just give each other a look.”

Both point guards admitted that they learn from each other and make the other one better. Two of the quickest players on the floor, Virginia Tech has a really solid duo at the one.

Wing

The Hokies are loaded on the wing, and it starts with fifth-year guard and two-time All-ACC First Team selection Aisha Sheppard. 

A Virginia Tech staple since 2017, Sheppard returns for her last dance, using her extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA over the offseason.

Aisha Sheppard is back for a fifth year with Virginia Tech, with is huge news. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

“The Sweet 16, that’s our goal and our mindset,” Sheppard said at the ACC Tip-off in mid-October. “We’re thinking top-five [in the ACC], and the ACC Championship. We’re high caliber and elite.”

Sheppard said she thought about turning pro after ranking third in the conference in scoring with 17.7 points per game, but chose to return to Tech to write her last chapter on her illustrious career as a Hokie.

She’ll walk away at season’s end as the most decorated player in the program’s history. A 2020 and 2021 All-ACC First Team Coaches pick. A 2021 First Team All-ACC Blue Ribbon Panel selection. The all-time record holder in 3-point field goals made in school history. And by season’s end, Sheppard will likely be the all-time scoring leader, needing just 345 points to break it.

Junior Cayla King returns as the third starting guard from last year’s squad that lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to No. 2-seeded Baylor. The junior sharpshooter was one of the best in the ACC in 2020-21, where she made 60 three-pointers, while shooting 38.5% from beyond the arc.

“She’s our swiss army knife,” Brooks said. “Cayla has really matured since she got here. Before, she was a little timid and afraid of her own shadow. Now, with experience and age, she’s a lot more confident and gets the little things that go unnoticed right.”

Cayla King is Virginia Tech’s Swiss army knife, as Kenny Brooks says. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

Taylor Geiman also returns to the floor after suffering a torn ACL a season ago just eight games into the season. The junior played in 11 games during her freshman season that was cut short due to injury. 

Redshirt freshman Shamarla King is set to make her collegiate debut after missing last season with a knee injury. She was the No. 78 overall recruit in the 2020 class and is expected to be at full strength by mid-January, according to Brooks.

Brooks said that guard Chloe Brooks will graduate in December and is on the roster, but the nerve damage in her foot won’t allow her to play.

After open practice on Friday, Brooks pointed out that his team could see a plethora of different lineups surrounding the guards as the season wears on because of the depth it has.

Lytle and Azana Baines can both play on the wing to space the floor, if needed. However, both will likely see time at small forward in the Hokies’ system in 2021-22. Geiman is also a utility option and can play one-through-four, Brooks said.

Virginia Tech has an experienced group of wings this year. Combined with two explosive point guards, the Hokies have a dynamic backcourt.

Frontcourt

Elizabeth Kitley, an All-ACC first teamer and placed second in the preseason ACC Player of the Year voting, is back for her junior season as a leader on a deeply-experienced Virginia Tech team. 

The Summerfield, N.C. native averaged a double-double (18.4 points and 10.4 rebounds) a season ago, but she’s improved her game even more since last season’s end.

The former five-star recruit wasn’t what the polished junior is now. She arrived as a ‘raw talent that’s worked hard’ to get to the skill level she’s currently at, as Brooks described.

“You noticed her height, but her skills needed improvement,” Brooks said about his 6-foot-6 center.

She spent this past offseason at a USA Basketball camp, where she worked on breaking out of double teams and using her vision to find an open teammate — something she admits she struggled with her first two years. She also improved her mid-range shooting, which could make her one of — if not the — most difficult players to match up with in the ACC.

Her experience and veteran leadership, too, is needed if Tech makes a run in either tournament. The Hokies struggled with consistency at times throughout the 2020-21 season, one in which they finished 15-10 overall and 8-8 in conference play last season.

On Monday, ESPN ranked the top 25 women’s basketball players in the country. Kitley is No. 20.

Elizabeth Kitley is a top-20 player in the country, per ESPN. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

Senior forward D’Asia Gregg played a significant role when Tech lost some of its players to the portal midway through last season. After not playing in eight straight games in December and January, Gregg played a huge role for the Hokies down the stretch. 

She played in Virginia Tech’s last 13 games and averaged 3.4 points and 3.6 rebounds off the bench. Now, Brooks envisions her role to be slightly bigger this upcoming season as a veteran leader and as a backup to Kitley. 

“We liken her to Draymond Green [of the Golden State Warriors] because he’s not a true center, and neither is D’Asia, but both can hold their own,” Brooks said. “On the offensive end, she’s really crafty and hard to guard.”

Tech’s depth is shallow behind Kitley at the five, especially after Rochelle Norris, a 6-foot-5 transfer from West Virginia, tore her ACL in a “freak, non-contact” injury over the summer, as Brooks described. She’ll miss the entirety of the 2021-22 season.

At the four, the Hokies have two experienced players in Azana Baines and Emily Lytle.

Baines returns for Tech after having a hectic start to her career in Blacksburg. After being cleared by the NCAA to play for the Hokies last season, the ACC held the Duke transfer out for the first seven games of the season.

When she finally had a chance to play, the junior averaged 6.5 points and 5.9 rebounds in 18 games. A Blackwood, N.J. native, she’s a ferocious rebounder who attacks the glass, and she provides an efficient option inside to balance out Kitley.

Azana Baines played a big role for the Hokies last season, but she’s poised for an even bigger year in 2021-22. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

This season, she’ll work with Lytle, who transferred from Liberty.

A Memphis, Tenn. native, Lytle starred for the Flames for three years, scoring 1,153 points and shooting better than 42% from the field. She averaged 14.7 points per game a season as their leading scorer, and was a First Team All-ASUN selection. 

She also played against the Hokies three times and knew how good Virginia Tech can be. And, like Traylor, she doesn’t care about playing time – she just wants to have a role in a winning team.

“Our team does very well in sharing the ball and making the extra pass,” Lytle said Friday. “I think we’ll do exceptionally well. Being able to shoot as a [forward], that can add a lot.”

Gregg adds experience behind Kitley at center, while Baines, Lytle and Geiman can all play forward. Tech might not have the most bodies, but as Brooks put it at the ACC Tip-off in Charlotte, the Hokies have depth in talent, not numbers.

Next

The Hokies open their season up against Davidson before travelling up to the D.C. Metro region to take on George Washington on Thursday and George Mason on Sunday afternoon.

The Hokies return all five of their starters from last season after earning a seven seed in the NCAA Tournament, only to fall to No. 2 seed Baylor in the second round. But coming back with Tech’s core this year is experience as it returns all five of its starters and adds two transfers that have the ability to put up 20 points on any given night. 

“We have eight kids who can start, and there’s no drop off,” Brooks said.

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3 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Let’s go Lady Hokies! It’s exciting to be 3-0, looking forward to following the team this year.

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