Esther Little’s first year playing basketball in the United States was about getting a taste of collegiate competition while adjusting to being far from home and the comfort of friends and family in England.
The freshman guard featured in 15 games during the season, highlighted by a season high nine minutes on the road against Pacific when Little scored her only points of the season (3). The final tally across the season yields just three field goal attempts, seven rebounds, one assist, two steals, and six turnovers in 71 minutes.
Although Little entered the season with fairly significant experience playing for the English national team at every age level up to the senior team, her season and the production she put together is pretty representative of an athlete making the jump internationally and adjusting to a vastly different level of competition and style of play. That she got on the floor at all, let alone 15 times, is a testament to the work she must have put in during practice and the valuable skillset that the coaching staff can see in her.
Like her fellow freshman classmates, Little can utilize this season’s experience as a useful reference point to formulate an effective offseason development plan. At 6’2” with the ability to defend on the wing, Little is another key piece in Lisa Fortier’s plans to build a versatile rotation with length that will be a defensive juggernaut.
It was apparent throughout the season that Little is very comfortable on the defensive side of the ball at this stage in her career, and has the game to switch 1 through 5 and defend anyone on the floor along with a willingness to chase down rebounds. There is immense value in that, and is the reason why the coaching staff found her opportunities in game action.
Little’s offensive skillset is still a work-in-progress, but there is ability to be unlocked there. A key aspect of her progression will be to gain confidence with her shooting in order to unlock more aggressiveness at that end of the floor and make her a threat that opposing teams have to respect. If she’s able to make strides on that side of the ball, Little will be a mainstay in the rotation for the next three seasons.