AAC Preview: Get to Know the Players and Coaches Who Will Lead the League This Season

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Sunday January 26, 2014: South Florida Bulls Head coach Jose Fernandez reacts to a call during the 1st half of the NCAA basketball game between South Florida vs Connecticut at XL Center in Hartford, CT. UConn beat a stubborn South Florida team 81-53. (Photo by Bill Shettle/Icon SMI/Corbis via Getty Images)

Except at the very top, there is a lot of parity in women’s basketball in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) this year.  Expect lots of good competition featuring emotion and intensity making for a lot of exciting basketball.  South Florida is loaded with talent and yes they could be the league team to finally beat UConn.

But while the Huskies are a great story, they are not the only team worth watching.  There are compelling stories all across the AAC about women who are passionate about their craft and are working relentlessly in pursuit of a championship.

You have probably heard about Megan Walker, but what about IIMar’i Thomas, a freshman at Cincinnati.  At 16, she was the San Francisco Chronicle’s Metro Player of the Year. She just turned 17, and she is already drawing raves from Head Coach Jamelle Elliott.  Following the unfortunate injury to Temple’s Alliya Butts, a spotlight is now on Owl senior Tanaya Atkinson.  Atkinson was the conference’s Sixth Player of the Year last season and now has a much bigger leadership burden.

This conference preview is about the players you should get to know based on conversations with most of the AAC head coaches. They are team leaders and players who will surprise with breakout seasons.  The common thread is they all have personal stories and impressive credentials.  Learn about them and you will want to root for them.

Rather than make picks about how many games teams will win this season especially when there likely will be many teams stacked in the middle of the standings, I prefer to watch for something different (based on role and team scenario).

Photo Credit for Cover Photo: Ben Solomon/American Athletic Conference

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