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KU women Jackson, Franklin named to national preseason watch lists

Jayhawks' all-Big 12 returners already among top players at their positions nationally

2 min read
KU center Taiyanna Jackson signals to the Allen Fieldhouse crowd during her speech at Late Night in the Phog in early October. [Chance Parker photo]

Kansas center Taiyanna Jackson has big goals for herself and her team during the 2023-24 season.

From a Big 12 title and run in the NCAA Tournament to Big 12 defensive player of the year honors and another school blocks record, the third-year Jayhawk is shooting for the stars in her final season in Lawrence.

Before playing a single minute, the 6-foot-6 super-senior from East Chicago, Indiana, already has put herself on track to being in the mix for all of those feats.

Last week, she became one of 20 players named to the Lisa Leslie Award preseason watch list.

Named after the three-time All-American, 1994 National Player of the Year and Class of 2015 Hall of Famer, the award is given annually to the top center in women’s college basketball. A national committee of top college basketball personnel determined the watch list of 20 candidates.

Jackson, who became the first Jayhawk since 2014 to earn honorable mention All-America honors last season, is one of five players from the Big 12 on the list, joining Taylor Jones (Texas), Ayoka Lee (Kansas State), Sedona Prince (TCU) and Liz Scott (Oklahoma).

Last season, Jackson was a unanimous first team all-Big 12 and Big 12 all-Defensive team selection after becoming the first Kansas player since the 1981-82 season to average a double-double – 15.2 points and 12.7 rebounds per game. She finished the season with 23 double-doubles, the third highest single-season total in KU history.

Jackson is one of two Jayhawks named to a preseason watch list, joining teammate Zakiyah Franklin, who recently was one of 20 players named to the Nancy Leiberman Award’s preseason watch list.

The Leiberman Award is given annually to the top point guard in the country.
Franklin is one of five point guards from the Big 12 on the watch list. She joins Rori Harmon (Texas), Emily Ryan (Iowa State), Serena Sundell (Kansas State) and Sarah Andrews (Baylor).

Last season, Franklin joined Jackson on the all-Big 12 first team after leading the Jayhawks in scoring at 15.7 points per game. She scored in double figures 31 times, including 10 games with 20-plus points and twice with more than 30 points.

Franklin, a 5-foot-8, super-senior from Lakeland, Florida, also set single-season school records for free throw percentage (87.8%) and 3-point field goal percentage (49.5%) in 2022-23.

Both lists will be narrowed down to 10 in late January, with plans to announce a group of five finalists in late March.

The Jayhawks will open their season against Northwestern State at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 8 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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