Women’s Basketball: 2021 Class looks to make immediate impact


Maddy Maes

Freshman Aneesah Morrow chasing after a loose ball against Lewis.

Every year, college basketball rosters get shaken up. Players graduate and transfer out, sure, but a lot of times the addition is more interesting than the subtraction. The DePaul women’s basketball team attracts high-quality recruits every year, and this year is no different. A pair of forwards in Aneesah Morrow and Kaitlyn Ammons are skilled recruits who have earned good graces with their teammates and head coach Doug Bruno.

Ammons, from Morgantown, West Virginia, is a 6-foot-3 forward who can shoot from deep. Morrow, who was a prolific scorer and rebounder at Simeon Career Academy here in Chicago, is a 6-foot-1 forward who has immediate starting potential. They both add needed height to the Blue Demons squad, and are eager to bring the team back to the NCAA Tournament this season.

In her career at Morgantown, Ammons won many accolades, including player of the year awards from WBOY-TV and WDTV Channel 5. She averaged 16 points and 9 rebounds in her final season on the way to a state semi-finals appearance. Her body of work with the Philadelphia Belles EYBL team is impressive as well, where she won two Nike national championships.

She was recruited by schools like Dayton, St. John’s, St. Joseph’s, Marshall and Boston University before she chose DePaul. A big part of that was the coaching staff and the “DePaulball” play style that the Blue Demons have become known for.

“I like [the playstyle] because it is unique,” Ammons said. “It’s something that takes work too, it forces us to be in shape and pay attention in practice. It’s fun to play that way too because you score more points.”

As it goes for any top Division I program, DePaul doesn’t start freshman that consistently, but Morrow and Ammons have both impressed already. Morrow got a starting nod in Thursday’s exhibition game against Lewis University. In 20 minutes, Morrow scored a game-high 21 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.

Morrow brings the most-needed element to DePaul: rebounding. It’s not often you have a player who is ecstatic about rebounding, but Morrow is just that. At Simeon, she averaged 28 points, 14 rebounds and 4.6 assists a game while leading the team to a 35-2 record and a women’s basketball state championship game.

She doesn’t expect to be held back at all at the college level.

“Doug [Bruno] doesn’t limit you to anything,” she said. “So everything I was able to do in high school, he’s gonna allow me to do it on the court as well.”

Morrow’s start in the exhibition game was ideal and then some. She ran the floor well and grabbed 7 offensive rebounds to add to her total. Her sense around the rim is at a level above a college freshman, as she was able to get clean box outs and immediate putback attempts.

“[Aneesah’s] a really big time rebounder,” Bruno said.

Regardless, Morrow acknowledges how tough a college season is, and how much more physical the game is at the Division I level.

“Everybody pushes the ball in the Big East,” Morrow said. “We not only have to be in our running game but also be smart, take our time, work with our eyes, just being patient basically.”

Ammons and Morrow had their recruitments with DePaul done before the Covid-19 pandemic started to make recruiting a logistical challenge. Both committed to DePaul in the spring of 2020. They make up a very promising recruiting class, one that only became more anticipated after an uncharacteristic season from DePaul in 2020-21.

“This team last year when we struggled we didn’t defend well, we didn’t rebound well, we didn’t share like we usually share,” Bruno said.

DePaul missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002 last season, and faltered in the Big East against a few opponents, placing out of the top three in the conference. They were outrebounded by opponents on average, and shot just 32 percent from deep as a team.

Ammons and Morrow should both help the team get back up to their potential.

“We love Kaitlyn’s skill set, we love her size, and whether or not she puts herself on the floor is going to be totally predicated on her ability to rebound,” Bruno said.

As two players over 6 feet, they’ll be expected to grab rebounds and help control the paint, an area where the team has been pushed around in the past.

Regardless, the confidence level is in a good place for both Ammons and Morrow going into the season.

“Everything I’ve been working on is going to show when I play,” Morrow said.