Pana Leads Wildcats, Preseason All-Conference Selections
Central Washington's Alexis Pana was selected as the preseason favorite to win 2019-20 GNAC Player of the Year.
Central Washington's Alexis Pana was selected as the preseason favorite to win 2019-20 GNAC Player of the Year.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

PORTLAND, Ore. – Fifteen of the GNAC’s top women’s basketball players, representing eight teams, landed on the 2019-20 GNAC Women’s Basketball Preseason All-Conference Team. Seven players on the list were unanimous selections.

The Preseason Player of the Year comes from the team that was picked to win it all in 2019-20. Central Washington guard Alexis Pana enters her senior campaign after earning First Team All-GNAC honors last season. As a junior, Pana averaged 13.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per game while also adding 130 assists and 57 steals. She finished the year with a .510 field goal percentage and a .410 three-point percentage.

The Wildcats return four starters to a team that finished fourth in the conference last season. Joining Pana on the all-conference team is junior Kassidy Malcolm. The forward racked up 11.2 points and 8.8 rebounds per game last year while also posting a .770 free throw percentage.

Western Washington enters the season with three preseason all-conference selections, the most of any team. Leading the Vikings in her senior campaign is guard Lexie Bland. Bland was an Honorable Mention All-GNAC selection last year, averaging nine points and 3.6 rebounds per game to add to 98 assists and 45 steals.

Also landing on the all-conference team from the Vikings is senior center Anna Schwecke and junior forward Kelsey Rogers. Schwecke was a second-team selection last year and averaged 11.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game to add to 34 blocks. Rogers was an honorable mention selection and averaged 12 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.

Picked to finish third in the preseason coaches poll, Alaska Anchorage lands two players on the preseason all-conference team. The Seawolves lost four starters from last year’s team that won the regular season title and reached the Division II West Region title game.

The Seawolves will rely heavily on senior guard Yazmeen Goo, an Honorable Mention All-GNAC selection who averaged 9.3 points and 2.4 rebounds per game while adding 74 assists and 70 steals. She is joined by fellow senior guard Safiyyah Yasin (8.4 points and two rebounds per game).

Northwest Nazarene finished in second last year and won the GNAC Championships before falling to Alaska Anchorage in the NCAA West Region semifinals. Returning for the Nighthawks is Avery Albrecht. The senior guard was a First Team All-GNAC selection in 2018-19 after putting up 13.7 points and 3.5 rebounds per game while posting a .916 free throw percentage.

Albrecht is joined on the preseason all-conference team by senior Marina Valles. Valles earned second-team honors last year after averaging 10.1 points per game and dishing out 124 assists.

Representing Simon Fraser on the preseason all-conference team is junior forward Ozi Nwabuko, a Second Team All-GNAC standout and the 2018-19 GNAC Defensive Player of the Year. Nwabuko will look to lead the Clan back to the GNAC Championships after finishing in third last year.

Concordia will look to Olivia Vezaldenos to lead the way in 2019-20. The junior guard averaged 16 points per game and had a .842 free throw percentage last year. Vezaldenos will be joined by senior Kizzah Maltezo (10.8 points and 1.7 rebounds per game) on the preseason all-conference team.

Montana State Billings finished in seventh last season but returns four starters in 2019-20. Leading the Yellowjackets will be junior Hannah Collins. Collins averaged 14.8 points and 1.8 rebounds per game to add to 84 assists. Also on the preseason all-conference team is sophomore Taryn Shelley, who solidified herself in the starting lineup with 11.1 points and 8.2 rebounds per game to go with 48 blocks last year as a freshman.

Rounding out the 2019-20 GNAC Women’s Basketball Preseason All-Conference Team is Saint Martin’s sophomore Claire Dingus. Dingus averaged 13.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game on her way to being named the 2018-19 GNAC Freshman of the Year.

The regular season is set to start tonight in Laurinburg, North Carolina, as Alaska Anchorage will play at Saint Andrew's at 6 p.m. (ET). Conference play is scheduled to start on Dec. 3 as Simon Fraser hosts Western Washington.

Preseason Player of the Year:
Alexis Pana, Central Washington

Name School Pos. Ht. Yr. Hometown (Previous School)
* Alexis Pana Central Washington G 5-9 Sr. Hilo, Hawaii (Hilo)
* Avery Abrecht Northwest Nazarene G 5-9 Sr. La Grande, Ore. (La Grande)
* Olivia Vezaldenos Concordia G 5-7 Jr. Manteca, Calif. (Chabot Coll.)
* Yazmeen Goo Alaska Anchorage G 5-10 Sr. Daly City, Calif. (Westmoor)
* Ozi Nwabuko Simon Fraser F 5-11 Jr. Port Coquitlam, B.C. (Riverside)
Hannah Collins Montana State Billings G 5-5 Jr. Great Falls, Mont. (Great Falls)
* Lexie Bland Western Washington G 5-6 Sr. Ellensburg, Wash. (Ellensburg)
Marina Valles Northwest Nazarene G 5-8 Sr. Barcelona, Span (Sant Gervasi)
* Claire Dingus Saint Martin's G/F 6-0 So. Spokane Valley, Wash. (University)
Anna Schwecke Western Washington C 6-3 Sr. Evergreen, Colo. (UC-Colorado Springs)
Kassidy Malcolm Central Washington F 5-11 Jr. Ellensburg, Wash. (Ellensburg)
Safiyyah Yasin Alaska Anchorage G 5-6 Sr. Oakland, Calif. (Diablo Valley Coll.)
Taryn Shelley Montana State Billings F 6-3 So. Shoreline, Wash. (Washington State Univ.)
Kizzah Maltezo Concordia G 5-4 Sr. Honokaa, Hawaii (Honokaa)
Kelsey Rogers Western Washington F 6-1 Jr. Bothell, Wash. (Lynnwood)

* - Unanimous Selection