Leo unanimously selected Player of the Year
Cleveland State superstar Destiny Leo is the HoriZone Roundtable staff’s runaway Preseason Horizon League Player of the Year selection, after the rising senior guard led the Vikings to a historic 2022-23 and has CSU in good position to possibly take things even further in the coming year.
Leo is joined on the all-HL first team by a pair of players from the Vikings’ chief competition for the conference title, Green Bay. Maddy Schreiber, returning from an injury that cut last season short, and Bailey Butler represent two of the primary reasons that the Phoenix can reasonably think about returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2018. Brooke Quarles-Daniels, the conference’s best freshman last season, and emergent Purdue Fort Wayne star Amellia Bromenschenkel round out the top quintet.
The second and third teams are highlighted by pairs of players from darkhorse contenders Youngstown State (Emily Saunders, Malia Magestro) and IUPUI (Jazmyn Turner, Jaela Johnson), as well second selections from both Cleveland State (Jordana Reisma) and the Mastodons (Shayla Sellers).
|Destiny Leo*||G||Cleveland State|
|Maddy Schreiber||G/F||Green Bay|
|Amellia Bromenschenkel||G||Purdue Fort Wayne|
|Bailey Butler||G||Green Bay|
What, exactly, can Destiny Leo do for an encore? After all, the reigning Horizon League Player of the Year just led Cleveland State to what should probably be considered the best season in Vikings history: a 30-5 overall record that included a 16-game winning streak during the first half of the schedule, along with the program’s third-ever conference tournament championship. Leo led the HL with 17.9 points per game, while her 91.1 free throw percentage and 90 made three-pointers both set new school records (the free throw number was seventh-best nationally). Short of outplaying Caitlin Clark in December, it might be difficult to improve on all of that, but a repeat would probably be just fine with the CSU faithful.
As the Horizon League’s top freshman award winner last year, Brooke Quarles-Daniels re-energized an under-construction Oakland program. In all, the L’Anse Creuse North High School graduate averaged 12.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game, included a gargantuan effort on January 13th, when she blew up for 20 points and 18 rebounds in an upset win over Northern Kentucky. Quarles-Daniels’ highlights also included a game-winning bucket to lift the Golden Grizzlies over archrival Detroit Mercy on February 20th.
A major reason for optimism in Green Bay right now is the return of Maddy Schreiber from an injury that cost most of the second half of her sophomore year. Schreiber, simply put, is one of the best, most efficient shooters in the Horizon League, and she can get it done from just about anywhere on the floor. Before heading to the injured list, Schreiber shot 63 percent from two-point range, a staggering number for a player who doesn’t necessarily make her living two feet from the hole. She also hit on 86.7 percent of her tries from the free throw line on the way to 9.9 points per game.
One of the driving forces behind Purdue Fort Wayne’s surprising 2022-23 was the emergence of Amellia Bromenschenkel, who evolved into one of the top players in the conference. Bromenschenkel began the year on a tear, eventually settling in at 12.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per game by the end of the schedule, good enough for a spot on the third all-HL team. She’s also underrated defensively, including 1.7 steals per game (fourth in the league), part of why she wound up on the floor for nearly 33 minutes each time out.
Bailey Butler is unquestionably one of the top perimeter players in the conference, on each side of the ball. An elite defender often charged with locking up opposing stars, the product of South Wayne, WI already has developed quite the collection of honors during her two years in college. Last season, she was on the All-Horizon League Second Team, as well as the all-defensive squad, and she was the HL’s best sixth player and freshman two years ago. Butler’s 4.1 assists per game during 2022-23 were second in the circuit.
|Kailee Davis||G||Northern Kentucky|
|Malia Magestro||G||Youngstown State|
|Jordana Reisma||F||Cleveland State|
|Kacee Baumhower||G||Wright State|
With Lindsey Duvall graduating and Ivy Turner electing to spend her final year at Eastern Kentucky, Kailee Davis will now be placed squarely in the middle of Northern Kentucky’s offensive efforts – both as a point guard, and as a player that Camryn Volz hopes can repeat or improve on her 13.3 points per game last season. The Detroit native stands just 5-2 but has an incredible knack for navigating through much taller players on her way to the bucket.
The fact that IUPUI was able to keep its head above water in the wake of numerous player and coach departures was one of the major surprises in the league last season, and that outcome was due in no small part to Jazmyn Turner, who transferred to the Jags from Ball State back in 2022. Turner is one of the HL’s truest power forwards, and though she’s a bit foul prone (her 3.6 infractions per game were 0.4 clear of anyone else in the conference), she makes the most of her time on the floor, including 14.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game a year ago.
Steady Malia Magestro is one key piece of a massive group of Youngstown State seniors that hopes to deliver a bounceback 2023-24 for the Penguins. Though YSU is often defined by post play, three-point shooting, and ball movement, Magestro offers the team something a little different: the ability to get to the basket and the free throw line. Of course, she does the other stuff pretty well too, and she’s the Guins’ leading returning scorer with 10.2 points per game last year.
Though she was a reserve last year, Jordana Reisma has an extremely high ceiling and may assert herself as one of the Horizon League’s top post players in the upcoming campaign, after being picked to the HL’s all-freshman team at the conclusion of 2022-23. She was a force from the block on both ends of the floor, including a 54.3 field goal percentage and 1.2 blocked shots per game. Both of those numbers were among the top 150 players nationally, showing that her other stats might explode with increased usage.
One of the leading culprits behind Wright State’s re-emergence late last season, Kacee Baumhower contributed to the Raiders’ highly-prolific three-point bomb squad with 1.2 made threes per game but she also offered a different element from her teammates, an ability to work the inside game. Following a slow start to the year, the former St. Bonaventure player scored ten or more points in 16 of her last 20 games, including 11 in a memorable HL tournament win over Oakland.
|Emily Saunders||F||Youngstown State|
|Irene Murua||F||Detroit Mercy|
|Shayla Sellers||G||Purdue Fort Wayne|
Kendall Nead isn’t flashy, but neither is the Milwaukee team that she epitomizes. Instead, she’s someone who executes Kyle Rechlicz’s system efficiently while being very good defensively and leading by example, with that latter benefit suddenly gaining importance on what will be a young UWM squad this year. The Iowa native scored 11.1 points per game last year but, just as importantly, didn’t waste shots to get there, as she shot 48.1 percent from two-point range.
It might be a little unexpected to give all-league honors to someone who averaged 6.9 minutes and 3.9 points per game last season, but Emily Saunders should be considered an exception to that thinking, given that she backed up Lilly Ritz, one of the conference’s best players. At 6-5, Saunders is a tough matchup for anyone in the Horizon League, and she looked flat-out dominant during a couple of extended looks a year ago. Youngstown State uses their posts as much as anyone, and the former Tennessee player is the next woman up.
For a program that’s gone through its fair share of tumult (and then some), Irene Murua remains a constant, steadying force at Detroit Mercy two-and-a-half years after committing to a roster that, at the time, didn’t have anyone else on it. The Titans have up-and-coming players like Myonna Hooper and Amaya Burch who started to put their stamp on the team last year, but Murua still led the way with 11.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per contest.
When Shayla Sellers announced that she was returning for one more year early in the offseason, it signaled that Purdue Fort Wayne has every intention of pushing for a Horizon League championship in 2023-24. Sellers is the program’s blood-and-guts leader on the floor, and an outstanding on-ball defender who averaged 1.8 steals per game last season. She’s also one of the best players in the conference at getting to the free throw line, and is deadly once there – her 87.2 percent success rate from the stripe was third in the HL among players averaging at least two attempts per game.
When Kate Bruce landed Bellarmine transfer Jaela Johnson over the summer, it represented maybe the biggest under-the-radar move in the entire league. Though Johnson missed nearly all of 2022-23 due to injury, she averaged 12.0 points and 2.4 assists per game two years ago for the Knights, making her a likely candidate to be IUPUI’s chief facilitator following the graduation of Destiny Perkins. Prior to her time at BU, Johnson was at Toledo, one of the nation’s best mid-major programs.