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2020-21 Player Preview: Jill Townsend

Townsend is looking to make history

Gonzaga Athletics

Only two players have ever won back-to-back WCC Women’s Player of the Year awards. Jill Townsend looks to become the third member of that club as she enters her senior season as the unquestionable heart and soul of this team.

After being a role player as a freshman and the sixth-man as a sophomore, Townsend broke out of her shell completely as a junior. There was a question of whether she would be healthy enough to compete at the start of the season after her devastating leg injury at the end of the 2019 WCC Tournament. Not only did she return in time for the season, she came back better than ever.

Townsend led the Zags in scoring at 12.3 points a game to go with 5.6 rebounds. Her 43.1 percent clip from behind the arc was the highest mark in WCC play. She helped lead the Bulldogs to a top 10 ranking and their best season in school history, which did not get the finality it deserved.

Townsend looks to build on that in her senior year. The Okanogan native is the leader of the team in every possible way. She is an extremely fiery competitor, she leads by example, and when they need a basket, Townsend has delivered in big moments her entire career. Her late three to ice the game against Stanford at home two years ago remains an iconic moment of the Lisa Fortier era. She can slash to the rim, shoot from deep, and fight for offensive rebounds with the best of them, despite being under six feet. Plus, she’s the best free throw shooter on the team. There’s no moment too big for her.

Because of the depth Coach Fortier has, it feels unlikely Townsend passes the 30 minute per game mark, which could limit a jump in statistics. If all goes well, she remains the best player on the best team in the conference and wins a second straight player of the year award. Whether she wins it or not, she is Gonzaga’s MVP and will look to guide the Zags into the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015.