The Gonzaga Bulldogs women’s basketball team landed a key transfer to fit the squad this past season in Utah graduate-transfer Brynna Maxwell.
Maxwell, a native of Gig Harbor, Washington, was the third-leading scorer on the Utes last season, and her style of play should fit the Bulldogs’ puzzle perfectly.
Maxwell led the Utes for 3PA per game, at 5.4. Overall, the Utes loved to shoot the long ball, ranking ninth in the country for total attempts as a team. Gonzaga, on the other hand, was a bit more pedestrian, slotting in at 86th in the nation.
For the Zags, that outside threat took a huge hit with the departure of Cierra Walker. In her final two years of college ball as a Zag, Walker led Gonzaga in both three-point percentage and in three-point attempts. Although the Truong twins have demonstrated decently consistent range from afar, neither player was up to the level of Walker.
Enter Maxwell. In her freshman season, starting every game, she shot an astonishing 47.2 percent from long range off of 5.7 attempts per game. Her sophomore season, the makes went up but the rate dropped significantly, falling to 33.6 percent. Last season, everything seemed to stabilize a little bit. Maxwell finished out her junior year averaging 5.4 attempts and draining 38 percent, which would’ve placed her second on Gonzaga last season behind Walker.
With two theoretical years of eligibility available thanks to the bonus COVID year, Maxwell’s role on the team should be rather easy to determine—make a lot of shots from long range. The Zags have a potent force down low in Vyonne Ejim, supplemented by plenty of role players in Eliza Hollingsworth and Maud Huijbens. In the backcourt, the Truong twins should take a majority of the minutes, leaving McKayla Williams and Maxwell to fill in on the wing, depending on the overall health of Bree Salenbien.
Like usual in a Lisa Fortier offense, there are plenty of minutes to go around, because the bench always runs deep. Last season, Walker led the squad at 25.9 minutes per game. If Maxwell’s shooting touch resembles that of her freshman year, there is no reason to think she won’t replicate that. Unless the Truong twins can bring their three-point percentage up just a slight click, the Zags outside shooting beyond Maxwell is merely respectable and nothing to write home about.
Maxwell will be an impact transfer because she fills a huge need for the Zags immediately. Her impact can be felt much greater if she is draining three-pointers at a 40+ percent rate. That threat, combined with the skill down low and the leadership in the back court, is a team that is looking at a potential second weekend or more in the NCAA Tournament.