Wise, Va. - Second year Head Coach Kristin Kunzman and her staff will have to replace two of the more prolific scorers in the history of the program in 2012-2013. A pair of four year starters in Amber Carter and Kristin Mullins finished their careers in 2011-2012. The duo combined to produce more than 3,000 points, over 1,000 rebounds, 639 assists, and 430 steals in the last four seasons. In addition, the pair received numerous individual awards from the conference. Despite losing both Carter and Mullins, the cupboard is not bare for the Cavaliers; All Mid-South Conference performer Chelsea Cluesman joins five others who are returning for their senior season along with a talented group of returning underclassmen and newcomers.
A year ago, Cluesman averaged 16.7 points per game while grabbing 8.7 rebounds per contest. The Jonesville, Virginia native led the Mid-South in field goal percentage at 57.7 percent while also finishing second nationally in the category. The forward finished her junior season with 910 career points and 551 career rebounds. The career point and rebound totals give Cluesman an opportunity to become the first Cavalier to score more than 1,000 points and grab over 800 rebounds since Sarah Helton compiled more than 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds from 2003-2007. Kunzman's team should also see increased production from rising senior Christine Nyobe. Nyobe started in 23 games as a junior and showed progress throughout the season, the center had her strongest game of the season in the opening round of the Mid-South Tournament when she posted a double-double aiding UVa-Wise to a victory over the University of Pikeville.
The Cavs should receive a boost from the return of senior point guard Hannah Powers who missed all of last season with injury. In 2011, Powers started 26 games for UVa-Wise where she averaged 9.2 points per game while hitting shooting over 35 percent from beyond the three point line. Powers also finished second on the team with 105 assists that season. Powers is not the only experienced returner in the front court; Charlotte Reasor started 14 Mid-South games as a junior and averaged just over five points in league contests. An athletic guard, Reasor tied for the team lead in blocks with 18 as a junior. Jaydee Brewer enters her fourth and final year of collegiate basketball as one of the top returning perimeter defenders. The former J.J. Kelly star appeared in 22 games as a junior where she averaged seven minutes a game while shooting 33 percent from the floor. Cassie Kirby rounds out the quartet of returning seniors in the front court. Kirby appeared in 12 games last season and found success at the foul line where she connected on 75 percent of her attempts on the season.
This year's version of the Cavs will also feature several underclassmen that are entering their second year in the program. Katie Lester, Cayley McCaslin, and Kenzie Poindexter all received playing time as freshman and the trio produced bright spots when given the chance to show their abilities. As a trio, the group totaled 135 points, 92 rebounds, and 34 assists. Lester played a pivotal role for the UVa-Wise down the stretch as she finished the season by leading the team in three point shooting, 31 percent, and free throw shooting, 82.4 percent.
Kunzman and her staff's first recruiting class will also be on display this season. The staff has brought in five players for 2012-2013 including two junior college transfers. Reynesha Archer, a 5'10" forward from Roxbury Community College will provide additional low post depth while Shameka Smith, a 5'10" guard from Colorado Northwestern Community College will bolster the front court. Three freshman have also joined this year's roster, MaKenzie Cluesman, a 5'9" guard from Lee High School, Kaitlyn Rochelle, a 6'0" center from Northumberland High School, and Darian Pickett, a 5'5" guard from Tuscarora High School. The incoming freshman will be the first players in school history not to spend the majority of their career playing in the NAIA.
UVa-Wise will kick off the season on Saturday when the team travels to take on Bethel. The Cavs will open up the home portion of the schedule on November 29 when Mid-South foe University of Rio Grande visits the David J. Prior Convocation Center.