Jackson, Franklin and Kersgieter earn preseason all-conference honors

photo by: Photo courtesy of Damon Young/Kansas Athletics

KU center Taiyanna Jackson races up the floor during the Jayhawks road win at Texas Tech on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023.

The Big 12 Conference coaches expect the Kansas women’s basketball team to pick up right where it left off.

Seven months after center Taiyanna Jackson and guard Zakiyah Franklin earned first-team All-Big 12 honors and Holly Kersgieter picked up an honorable mention, those three players were honored again in the league’s 2023 preseason poll of Big 12 coaches.

All three players are super-seniors who have chosen to use their extra years of eligibility from the COVID-19 pandemic to return to KU in 2023-24.

Jackson was unanimously voted to the first team, just as she was following the 2022-23 season that culminated in a Women’s National Invitation Tournament MVP award. The 6-foot-6 center from East Chicago, Indiana, averaged a double-double with 15.2 points and 12.7 rebounds per game last year and anchored the Jayhawks’ defense with a team-record 109 blocks. She equaled a career high with 21 rebounds in a single game four times, including in the WNIT championship victory over Columbia.

Franklin exceeded expectations with a first-team nod at the end of last season after being named a preseason honorable mention that fall. This time, coaches put her on the preseason first team after she increased her season averages in a variety of statistical categories, including points (15.7 per game) and free-throw percentage (87.8%), and also led her team in assists.

Kersgieter, the honorable mention, is receiving a preseason all-conference honor for the fourth straight year. The outside shooter, a 5-foot-11 guard, connected on 64 3-pointers during the 2022-23 season and scored in double figures 26 times, recording three double-doubles along the way.

The Jayhawks also return a fourth starter, Wyvette Mayberry, and added one of the most highly touted freshmen in program history, S’Mya Nichols. They will make their season debut when they scrimmage at Late Night in the Phog Friday around 7:20 p.m. The scrimmage will be streamed on ESPN+ as well as the KU Athletics website and Facebook page.

KU opens its season at home Nov. 8 against Northwestern State. If the Big 12 holds to its typical schedule as in previous years, the Jayhawks could learn their projection in the overall preseason poll Thursday.

photo by: Aiden Droge/Kansas Athletics

Kansas guard Zakiyah Franklin (15) drives past Oklahoma’s Nevaeh Tot (1) on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2023 at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks lost 86-80.

Kansas senior Holly Kersgieter shoots the ball against Missouri during the second round of the WNIT on Monday, March 20, 2023. Kansas advances with a 75-45 win over Missouri.


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