The Best Player Names of the 2020-21 Women’s College Basketball Season

Jenn Hatfield is back with her third annual round-up of the best names in Division I

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The fact that college basketball is taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic has been controversial, even among the participants. On December 9, Duke head coach Kara Lawson stated, “I don’t think we should be playing right now,” whereas local rival Wes Moore of NC State argued that campuses were the safest locations for his players.

Nevertheless, the NCAA has told schools they can play on, which means here at Her Hoop Stats, it’s time to round up the best player names for the 2020-21 season, from A (Shalexxus Aaron) to Z (Sophia Zulich). You can find the 2019-20 edition here and the 2018-19 edition here.

This article covers the nearly 4,800 players on Division I rosters whose teams have played or intend to play at least one game this season. (Usually, players must appear in at least one game to be included in this list, but given the unpredictability of teams’ schedules this year, I waived that requirement.) Teams that opted out of the entire 2020-21 season are not included, but players who opted out individually are still included because of the difficulty of tracking every player’s status.

Players’ names are shown as they appear on NCAA.com; in some cases, that means a player goes by a nickname instead of her full name. All data on player names is as of December 5, 2020.  

Lastly, it felt right to name two honorary “captains” for this article: Emma List from FGCU, because of the number of lists involved in rounding up the best names, and Anna Deets from Western Illinois, because this article is all about the tiny details (or “deets”) that don’t impact the final score but make the box score that much more interesting. 

Most common names

There are 2,294 different first names and 3,057 different last names among Division I women’s basketball players this season. That includes differences in spelling; for example, Jala and Jayla are counted as different first names.

Here are the ten most common first and last names this season:

Taylor took the top spot among first names for the second straight season, but it fell out of the top ten last names after being the eighth most common last name in 2019-20. The first names that have entered the top ten for 2020-21 are Hannah, Grace, Maddie, and Madison, while Davis and Wilson are the only new last names.

Sixty-four percent of players share a first name with at least one other player, and 47% of players share a last name with at least one other player. Fittingly, there is just one Sole—Laia Sole of Duquesne—but there are three players named Unique, a word whose dictionary definitions include “existing as the only one or as the sole example.”

Just 0.9% of players — 41 players in all of Division I — have the same first and last name as another player. A list of all 19 pairs of “name twins” and the sole set of “name triplets” is available at the end of this article, with an honorable mention to Diamond Bragg of Duquesne and Diamond Wraggs of Mississippi Valley for just missing out.

Longest and shortest names

Three players have six-letter names, the shortest in Division I. In particular, Albany (NY)’s Izzy Om shows that the shortest names can still be some of the most fun.

Nia Lee, Gardner-Webb
CC Mays, Marshall
Izzy Om, Albany (NY)

The following three players each have 23-letter names—the longest in Division I and longer than the previous trio combined.

Mikaela Brunais-Benavides, Fairleigh Dickinson
Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw, Iowa State
Moulayna Johnson Sidi Baba, Miami (FL)

Alliterative aliases

For nearly every letter in the alphabet, there is at least one player who has an alliterative name starting with that letter. Many of these names roll off the tongue, including my ten favorites:

Breyenne Bellerand, Hartford
Constance Chaplin, Wright State
Carlee Crabtree, Central Michigan
Hannah Hank, Clemson
Jasmine Jeffcoat, Denver
Jerkaila Jordan, Tulane
Maya Mayberry, Tulsa
McKenzie Muse, Army
Pare Pene, Chattanooga
Wynter Webb, Chicago State

Wanderlust

COVID-19 has curtailed travel for most people for the time being, but soon, it may be safe to travel more widely. Here are some destination ideas for your post-COVID adventure, ranging from the broadest to the most specific:

Continents and countries

Asia Avinger, San Diego State
India Bellamy, Rice
Syria Butler, Valparaiso
Tiana England, Florida State
Brazil Harvey-Carr, Rhode Island
Madeline Holland, Saint Mary’s (CA)
Nigeria Jones, Alabama A&M
Mali Morgan-Elliott, Toledo
India Pagan, Stony Brook

States

Georgia Ohiaeri, UC Riverside
Montana Oltrogge, Idaho State
Dakota Viena, Hawaii

Cities

Brooklyn Blackburn, Green Bay
Aliyah Boston, South Carolina
Vegas Camacho, Dixie State
Courtney Cleveland, Sam Houston State
Jenae Dublin, Iona
London Fairs, Tennessee State
Alli Napoli, Central Connecticut State
Paris Netherly, Houston
Olivia Orlando, Providence
Milan Schimmel, Cincinnati
Aspen Williston, South Dakota

The office of the president

A remarkable number of players have the same first or last names as former U.S. presidents—and there’s also Jurnee President of St. Bonaventure. President has one of the best names in all of college basketball, in part because it leads to tweets like this:

Besides the President herself, here are my favorite presidential names:

Reagan Bradley, SMU
McKinley Bradshaw, Wyoming
Madison Brady, Tennessee Tech
Emily Buchanan, Wyoming
Jasha Clinton, Temple
Alexandria Hamilton, Coppin State
Peyton Kennedy, Saint Louis
ZaMaria Polk, Cleveland State
Britt Van Buren, Eastern Washington

Your Majesty

There are presidents in Division I, and there are also plenty of royals, from Dames to Queens and Knights to Lords:

Victoria Dames, Arkansas State
Queen Egbo, Baylor
Jordan King, Marquette
JaBria Knight, Eastern Michigan
Alexa Lord, Southern Utah
Loyal McQueen, Georgia Tech
Jamey Napoleon, Central Connecticut State
Quincy Noble, North Texas
Sedona Prince, Oregon
Jaelyn Royal, Winthrop
Ashley Tudor, Radford

Fun fact: Some readers may notice a similarity between Loyal McQueen’s name and that of Lightning McQueen, the lead character in the animated movie Cars. Fittingly, production designer Bob Pauley has said that some of the inspiration for McQueen’s character came from athletes who were practically royalty in their sports, including Muhammad Ali and Joe Namath.

A Thanksgiving feast

If you’re looking for a chef, I’d start with Wright State’s Angel Baker or Iowa’s Logan Cook. But there are also plenty of players whose names might make you hungry specifically for bacon, cheese, or even French fries:

Amber Bacon, SMU
Kayla Bacon, Drexel
Ma’Qhi Berry, Long Beach State
Chantz Cherry, Stony Brook
Cinnamon Dockery, Saint Peter’s
Samantha Fries, UC Riverside
CeCe Mayo, Indiana State
Yummy Morris, TCU
Brie Perpignan, Elon
Krystal Rice, Ball State
Peanut Tuitele, Colorado

What color is the dress?

Five years ago, photos of a dress rocked the Internet as some viewers saw it as blue and black while others saw white and gold. This list of colorful player names shouldn’t be as controversial, as nearly every color is represented:

Teal Battle, Little Rock
Rebecca Black, Southern Utah
Lavender Briggs, Florida
Amber Brown, Pittsburgh
Tierra Dark, Alabama A&M
Cyan Dyke, Furman
Juliette Golden, Bryant
Mykea Gray, Miami (FL)
Skye Green, Texas Southern
Emily Ivory, Kansas City
Mahogany Vaught, South Alabama
Crystal White, NC A&T

Animal planet

Just as team nicknames represent practically every animal imaginable, there are a wide range of animal-related player names this season. Bird-related names make up a large share of this list, but there are also bears, foxes, and bulls, to name a few.

Kola Bad Bear, Montana State
Kendall Bird, San Diego
Miya Bull, High Point
Rebekah Crane, SFA
Bridgid Fox, Detroit Mercy
A’Niah Griffin, Evansville
Taylor Hawks, Jacksonville State
Chloe Lamb, South Dakota
Koi Love, Vanderbilt
Jaylen Mallard, South Alabama
Raven Omar, Samford
Oceane Robin, California Baptist
Cynthia Wolf, UNI

Star sightings

Beyond Stanford’s Anna Wilson (sister of Russell) and Michigan’s Izabel Varejão (niece of Anderson), there are several players whose names evoke famous entertainers and athletes without being relatives.

Entertainers

Beyonce Bea, Idaho
Presley Bennett, Texas State
Ciara Brannon, Wagner
Deja Cage, Middle Tennessee
Avyonce Carter, Georgia Tech
Dylan Horton, Virginia
Ramona Jagger, Seattle University
Century McCartney, Northeastern
Faith Paramore, Oral Roberts
Tenisha Pressley, Boston University
Maya Timberlake, USC Upstate

Athletes

Kesha Brady, Tennessee Tech
Genesis Bryant, NC State
Claire Chastain, UT Arlington
Alyssa Iverson, Liberty
Kionna Jeter, Towson
Makayla Pippin, Kansas State
Erin Whalen, Dayton

“These are their stories”

Every episode of the courtroom drama Law & Order begins with the same two sentences: “In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.”

Here are seven players whose names are perfect fits for the show—or for law school:

De’Mean Bond, South Carolina State
Justice Coleman, Grambling
Rhianna Council, UNC Greensboro
Emily Counsel, Denver
Janasia Law, Delaware State
Jalisa Outlaw, Central Arkansas
Kelsey Ransom, Georgetown

What’s the weather?

Just as Jurnee President was the standard-bearer for the “office of the president” category, Zakyia Weathersby of UAB has to be considered the leader of this group. She leads a large number of players whose names are rooted in nature:

By land

Sage Bridge, CSU Bakersfield
Kaiya Creek, Howard
Matilda Flood, Fordham
Savannah Holt, North Alabama
Abreanna Lake, UIC
Krislyn Marsh, Howard
Courtney Meadows, High Point

By air

Nia Clouden, Michigan State
Annilia Dawn, Butler
Jaida McCloud, UIC
Sunshine McCrae, UNCW
Starr Omozee, UIW
Rain Sheh, San Francisco
Moon Ursin, Baylor

Flowers and plants

Suzi-Rose Deegan, Davidson
Brooke Flowers, Saint Louis
Ivy Gogolin, New Hampshire
Lily Izundu, UNC Greensboro
Lauren LaPlant, Western Carolina
Annya Moss, Mississippi Valley

Peas in a pod?

Many women’s basketball fans have picked up on the greatness of Kentucky freshman Treasure Hunt, as the nation’s No. 29 recruit in the class of 2020 also has a case for the best name in the country. But did you know that she also makes a perfect pair with Sam Houston State’s Diamond Hunter?

Here are nine other pairs of players whose names fit together like puzzle pieces:

Jillian Archer, Georgetown, and Hunter Rogan, Ohio
Tatum Barber, Georgia Southern, and Areanna Combs, Eastern Michigan
Erynn Barnum, Arkansas, and Nia Bailey, Manhattan
Bria Bass, Eastern Kentucky, and Emily Fisher, American
Nicole Benz, Notre Dame, and E’Lexus Davis, Norfolk State
Belle Kranbuhl, Monmouth, and Amber Gaston, Florida Atlantic
Anaya Peoples, Notre Dame, and Sofia Persson, San Francisco
Taylor Petit, Youngstown State, and Gabby Smalls, Saint Joseph’s
Ruby Porter, Nebraska, and Gem Summers, Oral Roberts

On the flip side, here are a few pairs of players whose names are more like peanut butter and jelly:

Jasmine Elder, Indiana State, and Zoe Young, Maryland
Kali Grimm, New Hampshire, and Kaylee Smiler, BYU
Summer Schloss, UAB, and Cierra Winters, Air Force

Hitting the high notes

Hearing these five players’ names is like music to our ears:

Jazzeem Bethea, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Jazz Bond, North Florida
DJ McCarty, Wichita State
Lyric Robins, Illinois
Lyric Swann, UMBC

Make that money …

… Once name, image, and likeness legislation is passed, that is.

Johnasia Cash, Penn State
Kailyn Fee, Richmond
Faith Price, Campbell
Marlee Profitt, Valparaiso
Amaya Register, Old Dominion
Destiny Salary, Tennessee
Taniyah Worth, Georgia State

A very merry … valentine?

The greeting “Happy holidays” is typically used in December, but here at Her Hoop Stats, we appreciate names that evoke any of the holidays. Here are five names that do just that:

Holly Forbes, Robert Morris
Lauren Frost, Omaha
Tyesha Rudolph, Alabama State
Gift Sampson, USC Upstate
Jasmine Valentine, Drexel

Ballin’ is a habit

The player with the best basketball-related name I’ve seen over the past few years, DePaul’s Chante Stonewall, graduated in 2020 and is no longer eligible for this list. But several players are stepping up to fill the shoes of the 2020 Big East Defensive Player of the Year, at least in the name department:

Jasmine Forte, Grambling
Claire Gritt, Denver
Hannah Jump, Stanford
Ila Lane, UC Santa Barbara
Myah Pace, San Diego
Kelly Post, ETSU
Champney Pulliam, Idaho
Bre’Lyn Snipes, Kennesaw State
Asia Strong, Wichita State
Jordan Tuff, Miami (OH)
Ariana Vanderhoop, Monmouth

Furnishing a home

Whether you’re living in a college dorm or a house of your own, furniture shopping is one way to make the place feel like home. Here are six players whose names might help you brainstorm what goes best in what room:

Kaci Chairs, Grambling
Mia Deck, New Orleans
Diamond Hall, Alcorn
Lexy Keys, Oklahoma State
Floor Toonders, Florida
Marly Walls, Bucknell

The 2020-21 All-Name Teams

Thousands more players dot Division I women’s college basketball rosters, and many of my favorite names don’t fit into the above categories. For the second straight year, four of the five players from last year’s first team are not playing Division I basketball this season, so there is plenty of room for newcomers. Drumroll please—here are the best names of the 2020-21 season:

First Team All-Name

De’Mean Bond, South Carolina State
Treasure Hunt, Kentucky
Loyal McQueen, Georgia Tech
Te-Hina Paopao, Oregon (pronounced Pow-pow)
Ariana Vanderhoop, Monmouth

Second Team All-Name

Kola Bad Bear, Montana State
Ramona Jagger, Seattle University
Jurnee President, St. Bonaventure
Divine Tanks, McNeese
Diamond Wraggs, Mississippi Valley

Third Team All-Name

Diamond Battles, UCF
Jala Buster, South Alabama
Vegas Camacho, Dixie State
Snudda Collins, Ole Miss
Champney Pulliam, Idaho
Shine Strickland-Gills, Norfolk State

Honorable Mention All-Name

Jazz Bond, North Florida
Kesha Brady, Tennessee Tech
Ahriahna Grizzle, Alabama
Diamond Hunter, Sam Houston State
Century McCartney, Northeastern
Charisma Osborne, UCLA
Bre’Lyn Snipes, Kennesaw State
Tootie Rankin, Ole Miss


The full list of name twins (and triplets):

Fun fact: It’s not an exact match, but one would be forgiven for mixing up Abilene Christian senior Makayla Mabry and Notre Dame alumna and assistant coach Michaela Mabrey. However, their games are quite different, as Mabry is a 6-foot-1 forward/center and Mabrey was a 5-10 guard.


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