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West Coast Countdown: Pepperdine is Ready to Make a Splash in 2009

Nov. 7, 2008

The Pepperdine Waves were selected to finish sixth in this year's preseason poll, after finishing eighth last season, as voted on by the head coaches in the conference. Pepperdine, which looks to improve upon its 10-18 finish last season, returns a seasoned squad highlighted by three returning starters and nine letterwinners from last year's team.

The Waves are led by Head Coach Julie Rousseau, who enters her fifth season with the team, after having led her squad to a WCC title and NCAA Tournament berth back in 2006. Pepperdine, who hasn't finished the conference season with a .500 record since the 2004-05 season, was two overtime losses away from achieving that feat last season, and will look to its seven upperclassmen to lead the charge.

Highlighting the list of returnees is junior center Miranda Ayim, who was voted to this year's preseason all-conference team and also received an All-WCC first team selection last year. Coming back from a productive freshman campaign is sophomore Katie Menton, who earned All-WCC freshman team honors last season.

PEPPERDINE'S TOP RETURNING PLAYERS
NAME YEAR
POSITION
2007-08 KEY STATS
Miranda Ayim Junior
Forward/Center
13.1 ppg, 8.7 rpg, .557 FG %
Katie Menton Sophomore
Guard
8.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.2 spg
Jessica Ross Senior
Guard
5.8 ppg, 1,8 apg, 1.3 spg

PEPPERDINE BACKCOURT

Jessica Ross enters the season as the team leader in assists and steals


The Waves will be returning senior Nakeya Isabell, a 5-4 guard, to the starting rotation, fresh off a redshirt year last season. Isabell really created a name for herself her junior year, when she started the last 14 games of the season, after only starting one in the first 17 games of the year. That year, she led the team in assists (3.1) and steals (1.9). Also providing leadership in the backcourt will be fellow senior Jessica Ross, a 5-10 guard, who started all 28 games last season, and enters this year as the team's leader in assists and steals. Rounding out the rotation will be sophomore Katie Menton, who is fresh off a WCC all-freshman team campaign, having played in all 28 games and averaged 8.6 ppg.

Pepperdine brought in a number of freshmen at the guard position to help increase the depth on the bench. Headlining the incoming class is Jazmine Jackson, a 5-9 guard from Oakland, CA, whose numerous accolades include EA Sports All-American, MaxPreps All-American honorable mention, all-state first team and Northern California Division III Player of the Year. She has also accumulated three straight San Francisco Examiner City Player of the Year honors and two San Francisco Chronicle Metro Player of the Year awards. Joining Jackson is prep teammate, Lauren Bell, a 5-8 guard, who averaged 14 points, seven rebounds, and five steals per game playing alongside Jackson.

PEPPERDINE FRONTCOURT

Miranda Ayim was among the top three in the conference in three categories last year


The Waves will be looking to junior Miranda Ayim, a 6-3 forward/center, to lock down the paint this season. Ayim is coming off an impressive sophomore campaign, in which she was in the top three in the conference in three categories: field goal percentage (1st at .557), rebounding (2nd at 8.7 rpg), and blocked shots (3rd at 1.97 bpg). For her efforts, Ayim was awarded an All-WCC first team selection. Also returning to the starting lineup will be senior Alisha Bryant, a 6-0 forward, who started 17 out of 27 games last season, and averaged 3.2 ppg in 13.1 minutes per contest. Looking to see increased playing time this year is Taylor Smith, a 5-11, guard/forward, who started two out of the 19 games she played.

Looking to make an immediate impact her first year is freshman Alex Jarrell, a 6-4 forward/center, from Shelbyville HS in Tennessee. Over her prep career, she scored nearly 1,500 points and nabbed more than 500 rebounds en route to a number of national honors including McDonald's All-America nominee, a two-time Street & Smith All-American honorable mention selection as well as all-state honors her senior year.