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The Scholarly Spotlight: Texas Longhorns Women’s Basketball.

The Texas Longhorns have had a list of great men and women in their basketball program. Kevin Durant is one of the greatest basketball players of all time, and the administration retired his jersey after one season at the school. WNBA star Ariel Atkins was a dominant force in the Big 12 Conference from 2014 to 2018. From 2017 to 2020, the Longhorns experienced an era of mediocrity, but the newly crowned 2024 BIG 12 champions have reached a new level in their last few seasons.

Their new generation of talent is led by new freshman sensation Madison Booker, whose skill set has thrived on the world stage. Her classmate JuJu Watkins attracts a lot of attention in the PAC-12 for her performances as a freshman, but Booker is also a fantastic talent who has made a name for herself in the BIG 12. It is rare for a first-year student to lead their team in scoring. She almost recorded multiple triple-doubles throughout the season because of her versatility in every facet of the game

Her decision-making doesn’t reflect the experience of a freshman, and she has the potential of a superstar. WNBA Draft regulations mandate that collegiate athletes must be turning 22 years old to declare for their respective draft. If Booker can avoid injury, she will be one of the best forwards in the entire women’s college basketball circuit after 4-years of development. Head Coach Vic Schaefer began recruiting Booker during middle school and was impressed to see her growth through the years. In an interview with, he shared his thoughts about her.

 “She just keeps getting better and better,” Schaefer said. “She’s gonna be special sooner than later, she’s gonna be really good. She’s gonna help us win a lot of games here at Texas.”

Their relationship is a significant part of her success, and her teammates know her potential. Upperclassmen Deyona Gatson & Aaliyah Moore have helped her process the trials of a college season. The two upperclassmen are pillars of the program, and their advice has been essential for Booker’s development.

“They just treated me like a little sister,” Booker said. “They’re always there putting their two cents in helping me out and growing my game.”

The on-court chemistry between the three spreads throughout the team, and Booker’s first year on the roster has changed the performance of the entire program. The Longhorns were 26-10 last season, and they improved to 30-4 after her arrival. Junior guard Rori Harmon’s playmaking prowess is a significant component of Booker’s success, and her electric playstyle causes havoc for opposing defenses.

Harmon is a triple-double threat as the second-leading scorer with 14.1 points per game while averaging  7.8 assists and securing 5.6 rebounds. In multiple games this season where she recorded 11+ assists, she was one or two rebounds shy of a triple-double. She also leads the team in steals with an incredible 3.1 per game.

Harmon is a massive part of their defense alongside defensive stalwart Taylor Jones. She was having a fantastic season before tearing her ACL in December. She has assumed a temporary coaching role while recovering on the bench by constructing plays and offering guidance.

After winning their 2nd conference tournament title in 3 years, their ultimate goal is to win their first NCAA championship in nearly four decades. The 1986 Lady Longhorns defeated the USC Trojans 97-81 to claim the program’s first title. Now, 37 years later, they have their best roster in years with a severe chance to win the 2024 NCAA Championship. Their bench has been stellar all year, and their performances will be vital to bringing the NABC Trophy home to Texas.

Shaylee Gonzalez, Amina Muhammad, Khadija Faye, and Shay Holle have been a fantastic supporting cast all year. Gonzalez and Holle are amazing sharpshooters who have been consistent all season. Muhammad & Faye are two 6'4 forwards who can put up dominant double figures in scoring and rebounding when given long playing time.

The team chemistry has flourished throughout the season, and they only lost twice in the Moody Center. March Madness has begun, and they are ranked #1 in the Portland 4 bracket due to their great season. Their tournament run starts on March 22nd versus the #16 Drexel Dragons. Elimination is possible in every game, so they can not underestimate the competition even though they are the betting favorites to win their bracket. The gauntlet of top-tier NCAA talent will be a test for a young star like Booker, but her fellow Longhorns will help her every step of the way. 


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