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Pack picked 10th in MW preseason poll; Reno High alum makes All-MW team

Da'Ja Hamilton
Da'Ja Hamilton is one of the Wolf Pack's top returning players. (Byrne Photo/Nevada athletics)

The new-look Nevada women's basketball team was picked to finish 10th out of 11 teams in the Mountain West preseason poll released Thursday.

Fresno State was picked first by the conference's coaches and selected media, although San Jose State, Boise State and San Diego State each got first-place votes. SJSU was placed second followed by Boise State and SDSU. The Bulldogs went 16-2 and returns all five starters from last year's team, including preseason MW player of the year Maddi Utti and 2019 freshman of the year Haley Cavinder. Fresno State received 22 first-place votes out of a possible 26.

Nevada went 15-16 overall last season and finished 7-11 in the MW for the third straight year, good for a tie for seventh place. The Wolf Pack had a rash of transfers in the offseason, including from Essence Booker and Imani Lacy, who ranked first and second on the team in scoring in 2019-20. Part-time starters Jena Williams and Miki'ala Maio as well as rotation player Jacqulynn Nakai also transferred, and Marguerite Effa, who was third on the team in scoring, graduated.

The Wolf Pack, under the direction of fourth-year coach Amanda Levens, returns some experience, including Nia Alexander (6.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg), Da'Ja Hamilton (6.2 ppg, 2.0 apg), Amaya West (4.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg), Alyssa Jimenez (3.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg) and Dom Phillips (6.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg), who is returning from a serious knee injury. Among several newcomers are locals Kenna Holt, a true freshman from Bishop Manogue, and former Churchill County star Leta Otuafi, who played for Utah State Eastern last season.

Former Reno High player Mallory McGwire, now at Boise State, was one of five players named to the All-MW preseason team. McGwire, a transfer from Oregon who made her debut with the Broncos last season, averaged 11.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game on 47.2 percent shooting last season. She won two state titles with the Huskies and helped the Broncos to a MW Tournament championship last season.

Mountain West preseason poll

1. Fresno State (22), 266

2. San José State (2), 239

3. Boise State (1), 221

4. San Diego State (1), 185

5. Wyoming, 173

6. New Mexico, 145

7. Air Force, 120

8. Colorado State, 117

9. UNLV, 111

10. Nevada, 95

11. Utah State, 44

Preseason honors

Preseason All-MW team

G Haley Cavinder, Fresno State

G Sophia Ramos, San Diego State

G Ayzhiana Basallo, San José State

F Maddi Utti, Fresno State

C Mallory McGwire, Boise State

Preseason Player of the Year

Maddi Utti, Fresno State

Preseason Newcomer of the Year

LaTascya Duff, New Mexico

Preseason Freshman of the Year

Asia Avinger, San Diego State

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