SU Women’s Basketball Player Intros: Nyah Wilson and Julianna Walker

DeSoto's Sa'Myah Smith (5) tries to recover the ball from Duncanville's Nyah Wilson (33) during a basketball game in DeSoto on Saturday, January 23, 2021. (Lola Gomez/The Dallas Morning News)
Friday, Oct 01, 2021 at 5:58 pm by Sports Editor

By Stephen Sklar

CitrusTV Women’s Basketball Beat Reporter

Recruiting hasn’t been an area of concern for the Syracuse Women’s Basketball program in a couple of years. From 2017-2020, SU was reeling in a minimum of two Top 100 recruits and each of those classes featured at least one Top 50 recruit. Earlier in the year, it appeared as though the incoming crop of freshmen would continue that streak as the Orange were preparing to make a run at a 6th straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

However, the Class of 2025 looks a little different now than it did at the end of March. Many players elected to play elsewhere amidst the offseason drama. That includes Latasha Lattimore, the 38th overall prospect and 6th at the forward position, and Shayeann Day-Wilson, the 41st overall prospect and 9th best point guard. There’s also Amani Bartlett, a Top 100 prospect, and Laura Salmerón, an international player who elected not to play last year.

There are two freshman that did decided to stick it out with The ‘Cuse. And we’re far more interested.

Nyah Wilson is ranked the highest, coming in at 99th in the country according to the ESPN HoopGurlz rankings. In her senior season at Duncanville High School, she averaged 10.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 2.8 steals per game, which helped lead Duncanville to a Class 6A State Championship.

She won over ESPN Recruiting Expert, Dan Olson when he went to watch her play at the Texas UIL State Tournament back in March 2020.

“Athletic guard with smooth mid-range game; quick off the dribble, rises over the defense and delivers; 3-point opportunist; explosive in transition, attacks the rim; aggressive on-ball defender, anticipates, pressures the defense, makes plays through turnovers,” Olson wrote.

Any kind of guard that generates this kind of hype for their athleticism and defensive ability almost immediately makes you think of Syracuse and that 2-3 zone. She’s surely not going to be put in a feature role with this team off the bat, but with her potential on defense, it’s possible that she works her way into the rotation sometime soon.

Syracuse has been eyeing Wilson for a very long time. She developed a relationship with former Head Coach Quentin Hillsman over the years through his summer camps.

From there, they stayed in touch, and as their relationship matured, so did Wilson’s love for Syracuse. She fell in love with the coaching staff and believes the strengths in her game are tailor-made for SU.

There’s only one other freshman left to introduce and that’s Julianna Walker. ESPN doesn’t have her on their Top 100 board and that may come off as a surprise based on the career she had in high school. The point guard exploded for 34.3 points, 7.1 assists, and 7.4 steals per game and was named one of the top-25 most impactful players in Washington state. During her time at Annie Wright High School, she compiled over 2,500 points.

The points are the first thing that stands out. Scoring at that kind of level is nothing short of extraordinary and alludes to an outstanding ability to score from anywhere on the court. Her three-point touch is critically acclaimed but her elite shot-making power is also thanks in part to her ball handling and efficiency in the paint.

The other numbers are just as good, if not better. Dishing the ball to her teammates is just as much a part of her game as getting to the hoop, she said in an interview with Sports Illustrated. And in regard to the steals, 7.4 per game is unfathomable.

The ultimate unknown is whether she can breakthrough and play significant minutes for the Orange. However, she’s a dynamic threat on offense and, just like Wilson, she’ll fit right into the 2-3 zone.

Walker’s other motivation for committing to Syracuse is the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. She hopes to be an ESPN anchor one day.

It’s still unclear what kind of responsibility Wilson and Walker will have by game one. Given the roster depth, or lack thereof, there’s more than enough room for these two young players to get touches, but it’s important to note that they’re just freshmen and may not be polished products by game one.

The season begins on November 10th, when Syracuse takes on Monmouth at home. Follow my Twitter @StephenASklar for complete coverage of the Syracuse Women’s Basketball team | @stephenasklar