by RENALDO DORSETT
The Junkanoo Jam will again feature some of the top NCAA Division I women’s basketball programmes and showcase an appearance by another Bahamian player.
Event organisers officially released the eight-team field for the 14th edition of the event hosted over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, November 23-27, in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
The field includes Bahamian Shanea Armbrister and her Georgia Bulldogs, the Creighton Bluejays, Dayton Flyers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Missouri Tigers, South Florida Bulls and North Carolina Tar Heels.
As a transfer after a storied junior college career, Armbrister played in 21 games last season for the Bulldogs.
After battling through a torn meniscus in the early part of the year, the 6ft 2in wing player hit 45 per cent from three-point range, the best average on the team for players with 10 or more attempts. Over the season she averaged 2.2 points and one rebound per game.
She played 10 or more minutes in seven games and hit two three-pointers in the first, scoring a season-high six points against LSU, a feat she went on to repeat three times.
She joined the Bulldogs after she completed a two-year stint at Darton State. In her final Juco season she averaged 26.9 points per game for the season, shooting 59 per cent from the field and 87 per cent from the free throw line. She also averaged 7.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.
Last summer she led the Bahamas women’s national team to the Caribbean Basketball Championship title and, in the process, qualification for the 2016 CentroBasket Tournament.
Since the inception of the Junkanoo Jam in 2002, many of the nation’s top women’s programmes have converged on Grand Bahama to test their skills in meaningful regular season competition.
Local favourite Jonquel Jones, now with the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun, returned to Grand Bahama at the 2014 Junkanoo Jam.
Jones delivered an MVP performance and led her George Washington Colonials to the Freeport Division title at the St George’s Gymnasium.
The junior forward posted a double double in the title game – 14 points, all in the second half, and 14 rebounds – in the 79-59 win over the Purdue Boilermakers.
The tournament traditionally boasts a talented group of teams which range among some of the best in the NCAA.
The 2015 field included the Baylor Bears, Boston College Eagles, Cincinnati Bearcats, University of Denver Pioneers, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Michigan State Spartans, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Oklahoma Sooners, UCLA Bruins and Utah Utes.
Six of those teams advanced to the NCAA tournament.