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2021-2022 Player Review: Abby O’Connor

The Indiana native more than tripled her scoring and rebounding output from the prior year.

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament - Second Round - Kentucky Photo by Michelle Hutchins/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Abby O’Connor took a leap of faith when decided to transfer to Gonzaga in the spring of 2020 despite never having the opportunity to visit campus while the world was shut down in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

O’Connor was a stalwart at Loyola Chicago, averaging 12.5 ppg and 7 rpg during her three seasons with the Ramblers while earning all-conference honors, but was looking for a change of scenery even if it come at the expense of a less prominent role.

The versatile wing brought her hard-working game to Spokane and fit right in within her new program. There is always a place on the floor for skilled players who play with workmanlike mentalities and understand basketball (her brothers are coaches at Georgetown and the University of Delaware), and that is O’Connor to a tee. Teammates love playing alongside athletes like that, and coaches know they can depend on them.

After O’Connor received her waiver from the NCAA in December 2020 to be immediately eligible, she quickly carved out a role for herself as a solid utility player despite a crowded situation at her position and a more balanced squad that didn’t ask her to be a focal point of the offense.

With the opportunity for a bonus season due to COVID, O’Connor decided to return to Spokane for an extra collegiate season and, while donning a new uniform number (#30 to #4), earned a starting spot in Fortier’s rotation that allowed her to play nearly double the minutes that she did the prior season.

O’Connor’s fifth season saw her increase her production across the board, highlighted by a 21-point outburst against Utah and then a big game on the boards against BYU in the WCC Tournament Final that helped Gonzaga punch a ticket in the NCAA Tournament. Her defensive improvements, in particular, were wildly valuable as she pushed her steals total from 5 in 2020-21 to 42 during the last campaign while more than tripling her scoring and rebounding numbers.

O’Connor won’t be able to have another season with Gonzaga, but she maximized her time in Spokane and the Zags were fortunate to have her after her leap of faith two years ago.