Two Kent players’ seasons ended before they started.
Junior guard Rachel Mendelsohn and freshman wing Tyra James went down with knee injuries during the last weeks of pre-season practice.
Mendelsohn, who is 5-foot-8, played in 28 games last season, starting five. She was Kent’s seventh leading scorer at 5.1 points per game. She or Krista White generally was the first shooting guard off the bench. Mendelsohn took the second-highest number of three-point shots on the team, though she hit only 21 percent.
Mendelsohn was an all-state point guard at Portland (Ore.) Jesuit High School, helping lead her team to a state championship her junior year. She was the only freshman coach Danny O’Banion’s was able to recruit after O’Banion was hired in mid-April 2012. Mendelsohn was available late because the coach at St. Louis University, where Mendelsohn had committed, was fired. Mendelsohn started her Kent career as a point guard, starting seven games but moved to shooting guard last year.
James is a highly regarded 5-foot-11 freshman who scored more than 1,000 points in her career at Cincinnati Winton Woods. She averaged 19.5 points per game her senior year and scored a school-record 38 points against a nationally ranked opponent. She was all-district and all-Ohio Division I honorable mention. O’Banion sometimes spoke of her as a possible starter.
At Kent’s pre-season media day, O’Banion didn’t want to talk about what the loss off the players meant. “Injuries are part of college basketball,” she said when she was asked about losing the players.
But not having the two will affect the season. The team has much less depth at guard.
We can assume Mendelsohn worked on her three-point shot in the off-season; Kent desperately needs more outside shooting. She also could fill in at point guard if needed. No one else on the team has ever played point in college.
If James had played, Larissa Lurken likely would have played some at shooting guard, leaving Kent with more scoring punch.
Mendelsohn’s injury leaves Melanie Stubbs as Kent’s only senior next year. She’ll join Lurken, White and forward Janae Peterson as juniors.
James will join five incoming freshmen.