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The Hawkeye

The Student News Site of University of Louisiana Monroe

The Hawkeye

The Student News Site of University of Louisiana Monroe

The Hawkeye

Team welcomes new players, talent

Clemson Athletics

Expectations are usually modest when rebuilding a program, but Missy Bilderback’s cast of transfer portal recruits makes her debut season all the more interesting. 

The first-year ULM women’s basketball coach brought in eight players through the portal to spearhead the rebuild. They’re tasked with bringing relevance to a ULM program that’s avoided a winning season for 12 years. 

Bilderback spent her last eight seasons on the opposite end of the spectrum of success. At Jones College, she made her team a NJCAA powerhouse with a 198-33 overall record. As a proven winner with an eye for talent, she didn’t waste her roster spots. 

Daisha “Nunu” Bradford (Clemson), Lauren Gross (Southern Miss), Sania Wells (Auburn), Brianna Harris (Troy), Kyjai Miles (Central Arkansas), Destiny Haymer (South Alabama), Chardai Watkins (Southern Miss) and Jakayla Johnson (Auburn) round out a transfer class that brings experience and leadership to ULM.

“We needed that to flip the program,” Bilderback said.

It helps that some of the players on the team contributed to her wins at Jones. Five current Warhawks played previously under Bilderback.

Bradford is one of the five, and she’s expected to be one of the team’s most impactful players this season. After her time at Jones, she spent two seasons at Clemson. She led the ACC in steals last season with 83 total. She also led Clemson last year in made 3-pointers (52).

As Bradford, a 5-8 guard, enters her final year of eligibility, she’s back with the coach with whom she began her college career. Rejoining Bilderback, according to Bradford, made for a smooth shift into a ULM jersey. 

“Coach makes the transition easy by just knowing I play for a coach who actually trusts me and also lets me be a leader,” Bradford said.

Another player Bilderback expects to have an instant impact is Gross. She transferred from Southern Miss, where she was a team captain last season. The 5-9 guard has already earned praise from her new coach. 

“She’s going to have the ability to impact not only through her ability to shoot the basketball but also her day-to-day intangibles,” Bilderback said. “We basically have a coach on the floor in Lauren.”

Through the now-dwindling offseason, Gross said she’s impressed with the team around her.

“I’ve been a part of different groups, and it’s hard to get a group to compete hard every day,” she said. “We compete every day.”

The Warhawks start the season with a new look against Arkansas on Nov. 7 and have their home opener against Ohio on Nov. 11. 

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