Adrian Wiggins arrived in April as the new women’s basketball coach at Ole Miss full of confidence for the future.
He won the press conference, as they say.
More recently he’s gone about working to build a roster that will allow the Rebels to compete and win games. Since his hiring Wiggins has added three junior college transfers to a returning roster that won just two SEC games last year.
He’s also added 5-10 guard Melissa Sweat, a transfer from San Diego State. Sweat’s college numbers were average, but Wiggins is high on the player he recruited out of high school in Bakersfield, Calif. “We know she will make an impact here as we build this program,” he said.
Sweat will sit out next season under NCAA transfer rules.
The latest addition raised eyebrows. Sha’Kayla Caples is a Vicksburg native who played the last two seasons at Trinity Valley CC in Athens, Texas where she was named national player of the year by Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.
The signing of Caples gives Ole Miss the national juco player of the year on both sides of the basketball practice facility. Men’s coach Andy Kennedy added juco player of the year Marshall Henderson, a 6-1 shooting guard, in his spring signing period.
Sometimes junior college players blossom in their second season at the D1 level. Of course, that’s not the preferred path. In theory juco players are a bit more seasoned when they arrive and should be able to acclimate quickly. That isn’t always the case.
Still, coaches sign juco players with hopes of filling a need quickly.
There are lots of needs for the Ole Miss women, and Wiggins didn’t shy away from adding a certain level of expectation for Caples, a 5-11 forward, who averaged 20 points a game for her two year TVCC career.
Said Wiggins in the release announcing Caples’ signing: “She is a proven winner who will be instrumental in helping the resurrection of Rebels women’s basketball in the SEC.”
As a sophomore Caples shot 46 percent from the floor, 86 percent from the free throw line and 42 percent from 3-point range. Last year the Rebels shot 27.4 percent from 3-point range.