NCAAW: WNBA prospect Jordan Horston main Woman Vols in SEC tourney

As a rule, a program’s successes are outlined by its star expertise, notably by the point March rolls round. Convention tournaments and the NCAA Event are when the lights shine brightest, and even when a group has had a subpar or disappointing common season, it might make a run at simply the appropriate time and end issues on a excessive observe if its finest gamers are as much as the duty.

The Tennessee Woman Vols, whose 2022-23 season received off to a rocky begin, are an ideal instance. The poor non-conference performances, accidents and lineup shifts that marred the primary half of Tennessee’s season at the moment are a distant reminiscence; the Woman Vols will probably be taking part in for the 2023 SEC Tournament championship, and it’s thanks largely to the play of senior guard Jordan Horston.

Horston, whose profession at Tennessee had to some extent been characterised by each tantalizing promise and irritating inconsistency, has stepped up when the Woman Vols want her essentially the most. The 6-foot-2 guard has performed her finest basketball as a senior, teaming up with high-profile switch Rickea Jackson to kind one of many nation’s most explosive perimeter scoring duos — although their particular person video games are fairly totally different. Whereas Jackson glides up and down the courtroom with lengthy, environment friendly strides and owns the free throw line space with silky-smooth turnaround jumpers, Horston is a terror off the dribble, shaking defenders and attending to the rim with ease whereas making on-the-move passes few different gamers her measurement are able to.

Leaning on the duo has been a profitable technique for the Woman Vols, who received a mixed 43 factors from Horston and Jackson of their latest upset win over LSU — a 17-point comeback that was a testomony to the worth of high-octane perimeter offense, notably when multiple participant may be relied on to take over a recreation. The 2 Tennessee stars are linked in one other method, too: They’ll each be among the many first gamers to listen to their names referred to as within the 2023 WNBA Draft.

By the way, Jackson was the primary participant from the 2023 draft class we profiled, and Horston will probably be one of many final; the 2023 NCAA Event is correct across the nook and the WNBA Draft will probably be quickly after. Whereas we wait, let’s check out what makes Horston a particular participant.

Honors and statistics

Horston got here to Tennessee as a highly-rated recruit, ranked No. 2 total within the class of 2019 by ESPN’s HoopGurlz. As a senior in highschool, Horston was a McDonald’s All-American, and she or he was named Ohio’s Participant of the Yr by USA Immediately.

Horston’s function throughout her time at Tennessee has fluctuated, which, in a method, speaks to her versatile skillset. She began 22 video games for the Woman Vols as a freshman and 13 as a sophomore — incomes SEC All-Freshman honors and main the group in assists per recreation in each seasons — however really broke out throughout her junior season, when she averaged 16.2 factors, 9.4 rebounds and 4 assists per recreation. As a junior, Horston was named to the All-SEC First group by USA Immediately and convention coaches and earned an All-American Honorable Point out nod from the WBCA and Related Press.

As a senior, Horston has put collectively one other well-rounded stat line, averaging 15.4 factors, 6.9 rebounds and three.4 assists per recreation to go together with 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocked pictures. She was not too long ago named to the All-SEC First Team by convention coaches and the All-SEC Second Team by USA Immediately.

Internationally, Horston has received a pair of gold medals with USA Basketball. She was a part of a Crew USA roster that received FIBA’s U16 Championship in 2017, then received competitors MVP in 2018 when Crew USA received the FIBA U17 World Cup.

Horston brings next-level athleticism and playmaking to Woman Vols

South Carolina v Tennessee

Horston’s athleticism and talent to create off the dribble make her recreation flashy, however she’s additionally top-of-the-line wing gamers within the nation at creating alternatives for her teammates.
Photograph by Eakin Howard/Getty Photographs

Horston is listed as a guard — and she will be able to definitely deal with and cross like one — however at 6-foot-2, categorizing her merely as a ball-handler could be a disservice to her recreation. Horston is likely one of the finest within the nation at breaking down defenses off the dribble, and she or he possesses an additional gear of athleticism that few different gamers have, exploding to the rim with regularity.

There are lots extra methods Horston can contribute, although, and it’s one thing Tennessee head coach Kellie Harper needs her star senior to embrace.

“We’re at our greatest when (Horston) is stuffing the stats, and it doesn’t need to be factors,” Harper informed The Daily Beacon. “Her impact on the sport in each different column is so useful to our group … she will be able to achieve this many issues and our group, not simply Jordan, however our group is at our greatest when she’s doing that.”

Horston’s stat strains from the previous two seasons replicate this. As a junior, specifically, she led the Woman Vols in scoring (16.2), rebounding (9.4), assists (4) and steals (1.4), taking part in a lot of the season because the group’s major ball-handler and posting an enormous 34.4 p.c utilization fee for a Tennessee group that struggled with accidents to its backcourt.

Granted, Horston’s particular person effectivity suffered (37.9 p.c taking pictures and 4.5 turnovers per recreation), however she’s discovered a cheerful medium as a senior. The additions of Jackson and level guard Jasmine Powell through the switch portal have bolstered the Woman Vols’ depth on the perimeter and brought among the burden off of Horston’s shoulders, permitting Harper to name performs that put her in advantageous conditions and permit her to do what she does finest: assault.

What really separates Horston from related off-dribble threats, although, is how adept she is at creating alternatives for her teammates. She sees the courtroom effectively and is a prepared passer, which has yielded quite a few straightforward baskets for fellow Woman Vols when defenses are compelled to promote out on Horston drives. As one would assume, this makes Horston a wonderful transition participant, notably when she will be able to seize defensive rebounds and pitch the ball forward herself. These help numbers aren’t only a product of her having the ball in her fingers usually — she’s a value-added passer, which, as soon as once more, is particularly spectacular given her measurement.

Horston’s whole skillset was on full show in Tennessee’s SEC Event win over the Kentucky Wildcats. She completed the sport with 21 factors, seven rebounds, seven assists and 7 blocked pictures, showcasing her typical off-dribble excellence whereas dominating the sport together with her athleticism and physique management on each ends of the ground:

Highlights: Horston leads Tennessee previous Kentucky on each ends of the ground

The WNBA is an athletes’ league, and it’s clear that Horston is one among, if not essentially the most athletic wing participant within the 2023 draft class. She nonetheless must work on her exterior shot, having hit 30 p.c of her 3-pointers solely as soon as in her collegiate profession, and her total decision-making may be head-scratching (although noticeably improved from her underclassman seasons), which can give WNBA normal managers pause as they take into account how a lot time they’re prepared to right away put money into participant improvement.

Each time Horston reveals her full, all-around recreation, nevertheless, that call will turn into simpler and simpler. It helps that the Woman Vols are peaking on the proper time, too; if the WNBA Draft was held as we speak, Horston would positively be in consideration to be drafted in lottery vary (prime 4), and if she leads the Woman Vols on a deep NCAA Event run, that draft place could also be cemented.

Watch her play

Horston and the Woman Vols will compete for an SEC Event championship on Sunday, after they tackle the highest group within the nation: The South Carolina Gamecocks. A win over South Carolina wouldn’t solely earn the Woman Vols a event title, however it could even be South Carolina’s (31-0) first lack of the season, so evidently, it’s an enormous recreation for Tennessee.

Whatever the SEC Event final result, the Woman Vols will seemingly be taking part within the 2023 NCAA Event, which begins in earnest on Friday, March 17. ESPN’s Charlie Creme at the moment tasks Tennessee as a No. 5 seed in his Bracketology, although we’ll have to attend till subsequent Sunday for the official choices. Every NCAA Event recreation will probably be broadcast on the ESPN household of networks.

All statistics and group information for the 2022-23 NCAA season are present by means of March 4, 2023.