Penn State Women's Basketball vs Rutgers (20&15)

Guard Makenna Marisa (20), left, and Maddie Burke (15), middle, attempt to block Rutgers’ Mael Gilles during the Penn State women’s basketball game against Rutgers on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021 at the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pa. The Lady Lions lost to the Scarlet Knights 60-55.

A lackluster season put together by Penn State is how some may have seen the 2020-21 campaign if they glossed over the details.

A loss in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament as well as a 9-15 record does not seem to show a lot of promise for the years to come.

However, some bright spots shined through the cloudy year and a number of young players took massive steps toward becoming key components of the team’s future

Maddie Burke

As a true freshman this past season, Maddie Burke smoothly transitioned from her high school days into her collegiate career.

Burke saw action in every game this season, and although she did not start every game, she was a big contributor and brought life and energy to the team.

As an Energizer Bunny coming off the bench, Burke was able to secure the Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year award as well as a unanimous vote for the Big Ten All Freshman team.

She was able to put up strong rookie numbers in her supporting role, averaging 8.9 points per game as well as 3.5 rebounds.

The Doylestown, Pennsylvania, native ranked 38th in the nation and fifth among Division 1 freshmen in total 3-pointers made with 58.

Burke doubled the next-closest Lady Lion in 3-pointers made, which bodes well for her involvement in the team’s offensive future.

MORE SPORTS COVERAGE

Anna Camden

Anna Camden started in 23 games as a sophomore last season, 15 more than her freshman campaign.

Not only did the number of games she started increase from her freshman to sophomore years, but Camden also managed to raise her point and rebound totals per game.

Camden is already showing a promising trajectory, as she jumped from 4.9 to 7.8 points as well as 2.0 to 3.3 rebounds per game.

With ten games in double figures this season as well as securing a double-double against Coppin State, Camden shows tenacity on both sides of the ball.

As she loads into her junior year, the jump from sophomore to junior could mean she’s in line for a heavier leadership role.

Shay Hagans

Another Sophomore who stood out from the pack was Shay Hagans.

Hagans doesn’t fit the typical mold as a 5-foot-6 guard, but she’s a scrappy defender who averaged the most steals on the team at 1.6. She added 7.0 points and 1.6 assists per game and notched eight double-digit scoring nights.

Hagans added 3.2 rebounds per game, an impressive mark considering the 9-inch taller Camden was at 3.3.

Heading into her junior year, Hagans could have even heavier involvement than her 25.9 minutes per game, and her role as a leader should only increase as she grows into a facilitator at point guard.

If you're interested in submitting a Letter to the Editor, click here.