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2021-2022 Player preview: Melody Kempton

It’s time for the 6th Woman of the Year to get her shine

NCAA Womens Basketball: West Coast Conference Tournament-Gonzaga vs Portland Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Melody Kempton’s turn to shine. After a couple of seasons serving as the bench spark plug, relieving leaders Jill Townshend and the Wirth twins, she now will be asked to lead the Gonzaga women in their absence. She will be paired with Yvonne Ejim, serving as two versatile forwards that immediately plug into those vacated minutes.

Kempton’s contribution in her junior season was phenomenal. She was awarded the WCC 6th Woman of the Year and was the most efficient shooter on the team, averaging 60.7% from the field on 107 attempts. The forward shot below 50% only four times all year. She played in 25 games last year, averaging 6.6 points and 3.6 rebounds in just 18.2 minutes per game.

Kempton continued to be a wonder on the offensive glass. Of her 90 rebounds on the season, 41 were on the offensive end. She has averaged 1.84 offensive rebounds on just 17.4 minutes per game, 4.25 offensive rebounds per 40 minutes.

The truncated and unpredictable COVID season didn’t quite give Kempton the minutes and production that a full year would have provided. She saw a bit of a dip in her playing time, due in part to a healthy year from the seniors and the growth of Ejim’s game throughout the season.

The Post Falls, Idaho native scored double digits in six games last year. She showcased her interior abilities against Eastern Michigan, scoring 13 points and grabbing 8 rebounds. Her efficiency may take a dip in her expanded minutes, but it’s hard not to see her continue to shine considering her career average of 53.9% over 90 games.

It will be interesting to see Kempton adapt to the bigger role when it comes to fouls and some rough points in her game. She is a career 63.5% free throw shooter and averages 1.3 turnovers (3.09 per 40 minutes), which may be a bigger pain point as the Zags depend on her more. A bigger role also means an uptick in scoring and rebounding as well, however.

This season should turn out to be a big year for Kempton. Her new role will likely balloon her average north of 10 points and 5 rebounds per game. But even beyond her increased workload, her dependability will no doubt be heavily leaned on as the Zags figure out their approach without the last two WCC Players of the Year.