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NC State Women's Basketball

Wolfpack Women Named ACC Preseason Favorite

October 20, 2021
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NC State women's basketball senior center Elissa Cunane has been named 2021-22 Atlantic Coast Conference Preseason Player of the Year, while Jakia Brown-Turner (Preseason All-ACC) and Diamond Johnson (Newcomer Watch List) joined her on the league's list of preseason honors.

Additionally, the Wolfpack was picked first in the conference headed into 2021-22 following its back-to-back ACC Tournament titles. NC State received 14 of 15 first-place votes from the head coaches and 50 of 57 top votes from the Blue Ribbon Panel to be chosen as the preseason favorite by both groups. Cunane, Brown-Turner and Johnson's honors were also consistent across both panels.

Cunane, the centerpiece of an incredibly balanced Wolfpack team, was voted ACC Preseason Player of the Year following her electric junior campaign. The 2021 ACC Tournament MVP and Consensus First Team All-ACC honoree ended last season with averages of 16.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 53.3 percent shooting and 1.8 assists per game.

The Summerfield, N.C., native was honored as an All-American by every major outlet last year, including First Team status from ESPN. She was one of five finalists for the Lisa Leslie Award that honors the top center in women's NCAA Division I basketball and was also one of 15 players named to the 2021 John R. Wooden Award National Ballot. Cunane scored in double figures in all but one game in 2020-21, including six 20+ point outings and seven double-doubles. She dominated ACC Tournament action with averages of 23.3 points and 9.0 rebounds in three Wolfpack victories.

Brown-Turner joined Cunane on the Preseason All-ACC Team after also ending last season as a member of the First Team All-ACC. The Wolfpack junior started in all 25 games last season and finished with averages of 13.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per outing. Brown-Turner's 1.6 made three pointers per game led NC State as she compiled a 37.0 shooting clip from long range. The Oxon Hill, Md., native scored in double figures in 20 games and notched four 20+ point outings.

In her first season in the ACC, transfer sophomore Johnson makes an appearance on the Newcomer Watch List for 2021-22. A native of Philadelphia, Pa., she spent her freshman season at Rutgers where she was named Second Team All-Big Ten and Big Ten All-Freshman following her rookie season. Johnson averaged 17.6 points, 2.5 assists and 2.3 steals per game, with seven of her outings marking 20+ point performances. She also ended last season ranked seventh in the nation in three-point field-goal percentage (.455).

As a team, NC State was picked ahead of Louisville and Georgia Tech. The Wolfpack and the Cardinals were the only two teams to earn first-place votes from both the head coaches and the Blue Ribbon Panel. In addition to entering the year as the reigning ACC Tournament Champion, the Wolfpack is coming off a 2020-21 season during which it earned its first-ever No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and reached its third-straight NCAA Sweet 16.

The fifth-ranked Wolfpack will host a free exhibition game versus UNC Pembroke on Nov. 3 before officially opening its season on Nov. 9 with a home game against No. 1 South Carolina.

Blue Ribbon Panel & Head Coaches Preseason Player of the Year

Elissa Cunane, NC State, Sr., C

Blue Ribbon Panel Preseason All-ACC Team (57 voters)

Taylor Soule, Boston College, Sr., F (1)

Delicia Washington, Clemson, Gr., G

Lorela Cubaj, Georgia Tech, Sr., F (1)

Lotta-Maj Lahtinen, Georgia Tech, Sr., G

Hailey Van Lith, Louisville, So., G (1)

Jakia Brown-Turner, NC State Jr., G (1)

Elissa Cunane, NC State, Sr., C (42)

Maddy Westbeld, Notre Dame, So., F

Elizabeth Kitley, Virginia Tech, Jr., C (10)

Aisha Sheppard, Virginia Tech, Gr., G (1)

Blue Ribbon Panel Newcomer Watch List

Payton Verhulst, Louisville, Fr., G

Teonni Key, North Carolina, Fr., F

Diamond Johnson, NC State, So., G

Sonia Citron, Notre Dame, Fr., G

Olivia Miles, Notre Dame, Fr., G

Blue Ribbon Panel Predicted Order of Finish (57 voters)

NC State (50) - 847 points

Louisville (7) - 789

Georgia Tech - 691

Virginia Tech - 644

Florida State - 607

Notre Dame - 580

North Carolina - 488

Duke - 464

Miami - 355

Clemson - 324

Boston College - 297

Wake Forest - 250

Syracuse - 227

Pitt - 160

Virginia - 117

Head Coaches Preseason All-ACC Team

Taylor Soule, Boston College, Sr., F

Delicia Washington, Clemson, Gr., G

Lorela Cubaj, Georgia Tech, Sr., F

Lotta-Maj Lahtinen, Georgia Tech, Sr., G

Hailey Van Lith, Louisville, So., G

Jakia Brown-Turner, NC State Jr., G

Elissa Cunane, NC State, Sr., C (13)

Maddy Westbeld, Notre Dame, So., F

Elizabeth Kitley, Virginia Tech, Jr., C (2)

Aisha Sheppard, Virginia Tech, Gr., G

Head Coaches Newcomer Watch List

Celeste Taylor, Duke, Jr., G

Payton Verhulst, Louisville, Fr., G

Diamond Johnson, NC State, So., G

Sonia Citron, Notre Dame, Fr., G

Olivia Miles, Notre Dame, Fr., G

Head Coaches Predicted Order of Finish

NC State (14) - 224 points 

Louisville (1) - 207 

Georgia Tech - 192 

Virginia Tech - 172

Florida State - 152

Notre Dame - 149

North Carolina - 127

Duke - 125

Miami - 92

Clemson - 83

Boston College - 78

Syracuse - 60

Wake Forest - 59

Pitt - 47

Virginia - 33

 
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