Home Mailbag: What is going on with the Virginia women’s basketball program?

Mailbag: What is going on with the Virginia women’s basketball program?

Chris Graham
coach mox
Amaka Agugua-Hamilton. Photo: UVA Athletics

Before the season ended, Kaydan Lawson and London Clarkson “left” the team. Sam Brunelle and Camryn Taylor graduated and were out of eligibility.

Then this week, we see Cady Pauley, Alexia Smith and Mir McLean, who was out for 15 months due to an ACL, enter the transfer portal.

That leaves Kymora Johnson, Olivia McGhee, Jillian Brown, Paris Clark, possibly Yonta Vaughn, who didn’t play at the end of the season for some reason and wasn’t on the bench, Edessa Noyan and Taylor Lauterbach as holdovers.

Breona Hurd and Hawa Doumbouya are listed as roster newcomers.

By my count, WBB has lost seven players from the 2023-2024 roster – five either by transfer or leaving the team.

Can you make sense of this?


Of the three players to hit the portal this week, the biggest loss, without a doubt, is McLean (12.2 ppg, 9.6 rebs/g, 57.4% FG in 2022-2023), who has two years of eligibility remaining, and assuming she returns from her ACL issue anywhere close to full strength, she’ll be a difference-maker wherever she lands.

So, yeah, losing McLean, Taylor (14.8 ppg, 6.1 rebs/g, 46.5% FG, 51.7% 3FG) and Brunelle (6.2 ppg, 36.0% FG, 33.1% 3FG) leaves UVA mighty thin roster-wise in the frontcourt.

This puts Coach Mox in a tough spot, having to rebuild, again, going into Year 3.

The backcourt is deep, with top prep recruits Johnson (15.3 ppg, 5.4 assists/g, 4.7 rebs/g, 41.3% FG, 31.7% 3FG), Clark (9.9 ppg, 4.5 rebs/g, 40.3% FG, 36.0% 3FG) and McGhee (5.5 ppg, 36.5% FG, 28.4% 3FG) to build around as a Big Three.

Then, I like Vaughn (5.0 ppg, 3.5 assists/g, 33.3% FG, 31.1% 3FG) as the backup at point to Johnson, and Brown (5.7 ppg, 4.4 rebs/g, 35.4% FG, 29.4% 3FG) as a complement in the backcourt off the bench.

If that’s your five at the three backcourt spots, there’s not a lot of minutes left for Smith (4.1 ppg, 3.8 rebs/g, 37.8% FG, 23.1% 3FG) and Pauley (2.9 ppg, 31.3% FG, 25.5% 3FG).

I’d imagine that Mox would have related this to Smith and Pauley in her postseason exit interviews.

The obvious issues are in the frontcourt.

Mox has Noyan (2.9 ppg, 3.1 rebs/g, 50.0% FG, 36.4% 3FG) and Lauterbach (1.2 ppg, 2.0 rebs/g, 26.5% FG, 18.2% 3FG) returning, and Doumbouya, who barely got on the floor as a freshman at Maryland, and Hurd, a Top 100 recruit, coming in as newcomers.

Mox has six open scholarships, and it’s probably obvious that the focus will be on bigs, particularly scoring bigs.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].