With No. 13 Virginia Tech women’s basketball opening its season against Mount St. Mary’s on Monday at 5 p.m. in Cassell Coliseum, here’s a breakdown of each position on the team.
The Hokies are looking to return to the NCAA Tournament for the third season in a row this March. Last season, they faced a tough draw with No. 12-seed Florida Gulf Coast and lost in the opening round of the tournament.
Projected as one of the favorites to win the ACC, Tech added high-quality transfers in the portal and three freshmen. In addition, the Hokies return one of the best guard-center duos in the nation in Georgia Amoore and reigning ACC Player of the Year in Elizabeth Kitley.
Here’s a table of the complete Virginia Tech women’s basketball roster for the 2022-23 season.
Veterans Georgia Amoore and Kayana Traylor return this season for Virginia Tech.
As a sophomore, Amoore started every game for Tech in 2021-22, averaging 11.2 points and 4.4 assists. She received All-ACC Honorable Mention honors and was First Team All-Tournament (ACC) in Tech’s run to the conference semifinals. She led the conference with a 40% shooting percentage from beyond the arc a season ago, making 70 threes.
“She’s grown immensely as a point guard, as a player with confidence,” head coach Kenny Brooks said of Amoore. “I’m looking forward to her growth this year and what she can do.”
“Georgia in year one was naive, wide-eyed, didn’t know what to expect,” Amoore said at ACC Tipoff in Charlotte. “From my first year to this year, just a lot of growth in my leadership, my confidence, my shooting. Literally everything has changed.”
Traylor was typically the first player off the bench last season, though she started 11 games. Brooks has continually praised how she and Amoore play off each other when they’re on the court together. The Purdue transfer averaged 10.4 points a night and scored in double figures 19 times last year.
Brooks said it took Traylor some time to adjust to the Hokies’ system in her first season. A year later, she now has a solid understanding of Tech’s philosophy and what Brooks expects.
“When Kayana played at Purdue, she was trying to get out in the passing lane,” Brooks said. “She gambled a lot on defense where we don’t do that, we really protect the paint. … And then she also doesn’t break as many plays on the offensive end like she had to do at Purdue. She’s really trusting of her teammates, she knows how to get them the basketball.”
Despite the departure of all-time leading scorer Aisha Sheppard, Virginia Tech might have actually upgraded with Maryland transfer Ashley Owusu.
The two-time AP All-American transferred from Maryland in the offseason and shot 40.6% from three in 2021-22. She averaged 14.3 points and helped the Terps to a Sweet 16 berth, too.
Owusu, who won the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award for the best shooting guard in the country last season, is difficult to guard. Along with her points, she averaged 5.0 assists and 4.2 rebounds in three seasons in College Park. She’ll provide the Hokies with a third point guard at times, which will allow Amoore to play more freely.
“Ashley had a day where they were coming to me and saying, ‘Well, how do I guard her when she does that?’” Brooks said. “She’s going to be a tremendous addition to our program not only because she’s so talented, but she just wants to fit in. … She came here to play with these young ladies. She knew how good they were and what she could add to our program to take us to another level.”
Cayla King returns to Blacksburg as a senior and is continually praised by Brooks as the team’s best defender. As a 3-and-D player, King started 29 games a season ago — coming off the bench with an ankle injury in the NCAA Tournament — and averaged seven points on 39% from downtown.
King comes back this season with a healthy ankle and projects to return to the starting lineup, just as she has for the previous two seasons.
“I’m not the most athletic or the fastest person, but I think you just have to think about it,” King said of her defensive mindset on Wednesday. “I’m more of a mental person. Just being one step ahead really gives you an edge, even if you’re not faster. Sometimes if you outthink your opponents, that’s what helps me personally.”
As the second Australian on the team, Charlise Dunn begins her collegiate career in the states this fall. In high school, she was rated as the ninth-best international hoops player in the 2021 class.
A 6-2 freshman, Dunn is a solid shooter that can spot up from the wing, and Brooks said she can play the four if needed. Brooks said she’s probably the team’s third-best shooter behind King and Amoore.
“She’s gonna be a really good basketball player,” Brooks said. “Maybe if she came here three years ago, she probably would have been playing significant minutes, but she understands that she’s joining a team that’s full of all conference caliber players.”
Arguably, no one has had a rougher go at it than Taylor Geiman, who’s had two knee surgeries in her three seasons at Tech. The senior, who came in with Kitley and King three years ago, appeared in 13 games off the bench.
Geiman, a 6-0 guard/forward from Hanover, Pa., is often-called Brooks’ hardest worker for the role she plays.
“Her knowledge, her experience of our system is just going to bode well,” Brooks said. “It’s going to add some depth for us, and, [I’ve] been very pleased with her production and what she’s been doing. … Hopefully she’ll continue to get comfortable and she’ll be able to contribute for us.”
Carleigh Wenzel is the second of the three freshmen in Brooks’ 2021 recruiting class. Hailing from San Antonio, Texas, she was rated the No. 44 overall recruit in the class of 2021 and the No. 10 overall guard. Along with Wenzel, Maddie Vejsicky is another depth piece recruited by Brooks. A New Concord, Ohio native, she projects as another six-foot wing, and both she and Wenzel can shoot it.
Easily the biggest name for Virginia Tech, Elizabeth Kitley returns for her senior season. Her accolades speak for her dominating post presence, one she’s worked to perfect since she arrived in Blacksburg three years ago.
An AP All-American and the ACC Player of the Year in 2022, Kitley has a long list of individual accolades. Last season, she averaged 18.1 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game en route to 42-point performance in the NCAA Tournament, the second-most ever scored in the opening round of the competition.
She’ll be able to take more breathers this season with all the talent and depth around her, but don’t be surprised if she continues to put up the same numbers she did a season ago. As Brooks stated in his Wednesday press conference, Kitley continues to grow, and she’s able to hit 3-pointers on a consistent basis now.
One of two Boston College transfers, where she earned All-ACC honors the previous three seasons, Taylor Soule averaged 16 points and 5.5 rebounds for the Eagles a season ago. Much like Owusu, she’s not going to be asked to do as much as she did with her previous squad due to the upgrade in surrounding talent, but she’ll still be a primary scorer with Tech.
Soule is an all-around player who is willing to do the dirty work that often goes unnoticed. Brooks also said the 5-11 Soule runs the floor better than anyone he’s ever seen.
“Whether it’s being that energizer, getting rebounds, helping the team out on defense,” Soule said, “but offensively also being an aggressor. This year, especially being able to knock down outside shots, are definitely things I know [Brooks] expects from me.”
Brooks often calls D’asia Gregg his hardest worker. The 6-foot-2 senior came off the bench in each of her 32 games last season and quickly became the team’s enforcer down low. She shot 41% from the field while collecting nearly four boards a night, leading the team four times — which included each of the last three games.
Coming from Boston College with Soule, Clara Ford will help Gregg provide depth in the frontcourt, a role that Tech lacked in 2021-22. That role should’ve been taken up by West Virginia transfer Rochelle Norris, but she tore her ACL in the preseason.
In 30 games last season, Ford shot 59.1% on 44 attempts while grabbing a rebound per night. Like Soule, she’s a big culture piece for the Hokies, and though Kitley was on the floor for 32 minutes per game last year, Ford expands the rotation and gives Tech more comfortability.