Jenkins, Coleman return to UTSA women’s basketball for 2024-25

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Forwards Jordyn Jenkins and Elyssa Coleman will return to play for a resurgent UTSA women’s basketball team next season, coach Karen Aston said.

Both players opted into the extra year of eligibility granted to college athletes whose careers were affected by the Covid pandemic, which wiped out the 2019-20 NCAA postseason in both men’s and women’s basketball.

“I’m so excited that these two young women have the desire and commitment to stay at UTSA and help to continue to move the needle,” Aston said in a UTSA news release.

Jenkins averaged 17.1 points and 6.9 rebounds in 12 games after returning from a 10-month knee injury rehabilitation. She also shot 47.9 percent from the field.

Jenkins played two seasons at Southern Cal before transferring. The 6-footer from Kent, Wash., became an all-Pac 12 player at USC as a sophomore in 2021-22. In 22-’23, she averaged 20.6 points in her first year with the Roadrunners and was named Conference USA Player of the Year.

Coleman spent one season at the University of Texas in ’20-21 but did not play because of an injury. Opting to leave the Longhorns, the 6-foot-3 post from the Houston area has been a fixture with the Roadrunners for the past three seasons.

Last season, she averaged 10.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and had 45 blocked shots in 32 games.

UTSA women’s basketball has enjoyed a renaissance over the past three seasons. In the year before Aston’s arrival, the Roadrunners finished 2-18 and 0-14 in Conference USA. With Aston at the helm, the team improved to finish 7-23, 13-19 and 18-15 over the next three seasons.

Last season, the Roadrunners ended a drought of eight years with losing records. After securing the No. 4 seed in the American Athletic Conference postseason tournament, they won a game and then lost in the semifinals.

But with the winning record, they reached the national postseason for the first time since 2009 by accepting a berth in the WNIT. When they defeated Northern Colorado in the WNIT first round, it was the first postseason victory in program history.

UTSA bowed out in the WNIT’s second round with a loss at Wyoming.

Is destiny calling for UTSA? Jenkins says, ‘It’s our year’

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

UTSA forward Jordyn Jenkins understands as well as anyone that hard work sets the table for any type of success that a basketball team might attain.

Jordyn Jenkins. UTSA beat Florida Atlantic 77-61 in Conference USA women's basketball on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA forward Jordyn Jenkins has a good feeling about her team’s chances in the AAC tournament. – File photo by Joe Alexander

Same goes for individual success.

For instance, she didn’t just roll out of bed one day and become the 2023 Conference USA Player of the Year.

She didn’t just snap her fingers after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury on her right knee last April and say that, hey, she would be fine physically as her teammates prepared in summer conditioning to transition into the American Athletic Conference.

It took hours and hours in rehabilitation last summer before Jenkins could even get back on the court to practice her shot.

And then there was the strengthening and conditioning, all of which kept her out of games this season until late February.

No, Jenkins is wise to the way that the game works as the fourth-seeded Roadrunners prepare to play the South Florida Bulls today in the AAC quarterfinals.

Then again, she also has a thought or two about intangibles.

Destiny, for instance.

Is it destiny that the Roadrunners might be in line to win some games and perhaps an AAC title this week?

How else to explain events of last week, the second to last day of the regular season for the Roadrunners.

Jammed in a six-way tie for fourth place, UTSA needed a victory at home against the Rice Owls and a lot of help to pull down the No. 4 seed and a double-bye into the tournament.

How much help? Let’s just say that they needed a number of outcomes in games played around the conference to have a shot.

But, just as the Roadrunners built a double-digit lead on the Owls in the second half, the basketball gods started to shine on them.

First, the Charlotte 49ers lost. Then, the UAB Blazers also lost. With officials scrambling to sort out the final equation, the Memphis Tigers were trailing late in a game Denton to the North Texas Mean.

Then it happened. As UTSA players stood at midcourt after defeating Rice, 60-52, they learned that Memphis also had lost at North Texas. And that, from all indications, that they had secured the No. 4 seed.

Even as fans oblivious to the big picture cheered, the sounds of UTSA players shouting about their good fortune could be heard over all the other noise.

A few days later, I asked Jenkins sort of a convoluted question. I asked her about so many dominoes having to fall for them to get the fourth seed and the double-bye, is it possible that something special is in the cards for UTSA this year?

“Honestly, yeah,” Jenkins said. “After we beat Rice and coach told us we might end up being the fourth seed, it was kind of like, it was meant to happen.

“Even though we had a lot of ups and downs this year, I’ve always felt like this was our year. Even when I was out and even now, I feel like it’s ours to win. And, like, we can do it. Getting that fourth place makes me feel like it’s going to happen.”

She said her own road back to playing in games has been a journey. Initially, it was a shock to learn about the injury’s severity.

“I’m just grateful for our staff and everyone who has been helping me, my teammates. Yea, it’s been a lot of long days in rehab and working out,” she said. “But I wanted to be here and I wanted to play, and I love this team. Yeah, it feels good to play with them, finally.”

Anyone who has been around the Roadrunners knows how much Jenkins loves to play in games. So, when the season started and she couldn’t play, she said she had to rely heavily on those around her.

“There were a lot of days of me being around here, long days, just being surrounded by my team,” she said. “My athletic trainer (Tam Nguyen) and my coaches. They put up with me a lot, even though I may sometimes have a bad attitude.

“But they put up with me and they want what’s best for me. I’ve seen a lot of support towards me. And I recognize that people care about me. I want to make people proud. I want to do them proud. It just feels good to try to return the favor, I guess, and just do everything I can for the sport.”

Regardless, when the medical staff cleared her to play, she had a decision to make. Did she want to play only part of a season? Or, would it be best to save the eligibility and try next season?

“It was mainly about me and how I felt,” she said. “I didn’t want to take any chances or any risks. I did what my body felt like was right to do. I came back on limited minutes and everyone was very careful, just (to) make sure my safety was priority. You know, things have been working out.

“And, I’ve always wanted to play. I feel like if I’m able to play, why not?”

Jenkins smiled when she was reminded that, before the season, during her rehabilitation, that she predicted she would play.

“You know, I wanted to, and basketball is my life,” she said. “I want to win and I want to be here for this team, and I think I’m doing just that.”

Jenkins was a dominant force last year, averaging 20.6 points and shooting close to 50 percent from the field. Last year, it wasn’t unusual to see her out-running guards down the floor, catching long passes and shooting uncontested layups.

This year, it’s been a little different, as she has come off the bench averaging only 20 minutes a game. In that reduced time, she’s still been effective, averaging a team-best 14.5 points and also 7.5 rebounds.

UTSA coach Karen Aston said Jenkins is “in great shape” and praised the training staff for its work during rehabilitation.

“They did a great job in getting her in physical condition (to play),” the coach said. “It’s just game mode, getting used to how teams, you know, one team will play her one way. One will play her that way. If you’ve been away from the game that long, it’s something mentally that you have to get used to.”

Asked about the importance of Jenkins staying engaged with team activities during her comeback, from a team standpoint, Aston said it was more important for Jenkins to do that for herself.

“Injured players have a difficult time feeling engaged,” she said. “I think for her, she would tell you, she had a lot of dark times. Injuries are tough, especially if you came off the year she had last year … (but) staying engaged, for her, was important.”

Even though roles for other individuals on the team changed somewhat following her return, Aston said players have adjusted.

“Our team has an understanding that Jordyn has a real passion for the game,” Aston said. “She loves playing basketball. She loves the competition. The camaraderie. So it’s hard not to welcome back someone who loves the game as much as she does.”

With Jenkins, it’s clear that she understands how the game works. How playing the game requires certain sacrifices. How winning requires chemistry and camaraderie. In that regard, it’s also fun to learn that in spite of all the painstaking realities of preparation for a championship run, that she also believes in things like destiny.

Just as we ended our conversation the other day, I had to ask her about it again. She responded with a smiled and a compelling notion. “It’s our year. It’s our year.”

Jenkins scores a season-high 29 as the UTSA women beat first-place North Texas, 66-63

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Fast-improving forward Jordyn Jenkins scored 12 of her season-high 29 points in the fourth quarter Sunday as the UTSA Roadrunners defeated another first-place team in the American Athletic Conference women’s basketball race, downing the North Texas Mean Green 66-63 at the Super Pit in Denton.

Jordyn Jenkins. UTSA beat Florida Atlantic 77-61 in Conference USA women's basketball on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA forward Jordyn Jenkins scored a season-high 29 points Sunday afternoon in her third game back after sitting out the first 21 in rehabilitation for a knee injury. – Photo by Joe Alexander

With the victory, UTSA (13-11, 7-6) split a two-game AAC road trip and swept a two-game, regular-season series against North Texas (19-6, 9-4).

UTSA, aided by 16 points from freshman guard Aysia Proctor and nine points and nine rebounds from junior center Elyssa Coleman, also improved to 4-0 on the season against first-place AAC teams. The Roadrunners are 3-0 at home and 1-0 on the road against squads leading in the standings.

The Mean Green were in first place both times they played the Roadrunners and were turned away twice in close games. On Jan. 31, UTSA won in its on-campus arena, downing North Texas 75-67 in overtime.

In that game, Jenkins had not yet been cleared to play. She sat out the first 21 games this season while rehabilitating a knee injury. Since her return, the Roadrunners have won two out of three, claiming the two victories against AAC contenders Alabama-Birmingham and now North Texas.

UTSA’s road win against its in-state rivals, at the Super Pit in Denton, may have been the team’s best of the season. The Mean Green had been 10-0 at home this season. They were also 5-0 in AAC games at home — until Jenkins, a high-scoring forward from Kent, Wash., showed up to play.

Jenkins hit 11 of 17 shots from the floor, including three of five from three-point distance. In the fourth period, she was at her best, hitting four for four from the floor and knocking down her only three-point attempt.

On one of her shots, she had the ball on the right side of the floor, about eight feet from the basket, when she turned and flipped in a left-handed scoop shot. The bucket gave UTSA a three-point lead with 40 seconds remaining.

Coming out of a time out, North Texas guard Dyani Robinson hit a shot to cut the UTSA lead to one. On the other end, Jenkins was fouled and sank two free throws with 27 seconds left for the game’s final points.

North Texas called time with 20 seconds left needing a three to tie. The Mean Green failed to get off a clean shot, as Shamaryah Duncan’s three from the right wing was deflected by UTSA’s Kyra White, clinching the victory for the Roadrunners.

Six-foot forward DesiRay Kernal paced North Texas with 16 points and 12 rebounds. As UNT’s top offensive threat, she wasn’t as effective as she has been, making five of 12 from the field. Another Mean Green threat, center Tommisha Lampkin, was hindered by foul trouble and played only 20 minutes. She finished with six points and six rebounds.

In the second and third quarters, the Mean Green started to play better team basketball. They hit six of 11 from the field and eight of nine at the free throw line in the second, outscoring the Roadrunners 21-16 in the period and taking a 34-30 lead at the intermission. After halftime, they came out energized and once again got the better of the visitors, opening the advantage to 52-46.

North Texas guard Jaauckland Moore made a three with three seconds remaining in the third, lifting the Eagles into their six-point lead.


UTSA 13-11, 7-6
North Texas 19-6, 9-4

Coming up

Temple at UTSA, Thursday, 6:30 p.m.


After missing so much of the season, Jenkins is fast improving her conditioning. In her first two games, she played 11 minutes against UAB and 14 in a Wednesday-night loss at Tulsa. Against both UAB and Tulsa, she scored 11 in each game. Combined in those two games, she hit seven of 25 shots from the field. Jenkins followed with 24 minutes against North Texas and finished 11 of 17 from the floor. Her 29-point performance left the Mean Green faithful with long memories dismayed, as she scored 40 in the Super Pit last February in UTSA’s 68-67 overtime victory. The two games were played nearly one calendar year apart — from Feb. 20, 2023 to Feb. 18, 2024.

UTSA women sizzle in blowout victory over first-place UAB

Jordyn Jenkins. UTSA beat UAB 76-58 on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, in American Athletic Conference women's basketball at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Jordyn Jenkins (top) is hoisted in the air by freshman Idara Udo (at right) after UTSA defeated the UAB Blazers Sunday afternoon at the Convocation Center. Teammate Hailey Atwood is in the foreground. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Forward Jordyn Jenkins played as hard as she could for as long as she could, and her return to basketball on Sunday afternoon following 10 months of knee rehabilitation seemed to inspire the UTSA Roadrunners to a 76-58 victory over the first-place UAB Blazers.

With the victory, UTSA improved to 3-0 at home this season against teams coming into the Convocation Center in first place in the American Athletic Conference. The Roadrunners have beaten the Charlotte 49ers, the North Texas Mean Green and now the Blazers at home in AAC play.

Jenkins, the 2022-23 Conference USA Player of the Year, scored 11 points in 12 minutes off the bench.

Jordyn Jenkins. UTSA beat UAB 76-58 on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, in American Athletic Conference women's basketball at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Jordan Jenkins scored 11 points in 12 minutes Sunday in her return to basketball 10 months after she suffered an offseason knee injury. – Photo by Joe Alexander

More than just the raw statistics, it was a joyful afternoon for Jenkins, who could be seen smiling and laughing even during pre-game stretching. On her first shot attempt, she swished a three. After the victory was complete, the native of Kent, Wash., was bear-hugged and hoisted off the floor by freshman Idara Udo.

During the second quarter, Coach Karen Aston utilized Jenkins creatively, at intervals, using her on set offensive possessions and then bringing her back to the bench on defense. The coach managed the situation deftly, as the Roadrunners started to take control of the game with a second-quarter outburst.

UTSA played the game without rebounding and shot blocking leader Elyssa Coleman. Asked about Coleman’s status for a scheduled Wednesday night road contest at Tulsa, Aston said, “I think she’ll be fine. We were making sure that we’ve got her down the stretch (of the season). It really was precautionary today. I wasn’t happy about it, but it’s what’s best for our team.”

For the Roadrunners, the last three games seem to have underscored the up-and-down nature of their season.

First, they defeated the Mean Green at home by eight points in overtime on Jan. 31. Four days later, the Tulane Green Wave came into San Antonio winless in AAC road games and walloped the Roadrunners, leading by more than 20 in the second half and eventually winning by 11. Now, UTSA is riding high again after demolishing the Blazers.

Kyra White. UTSA beat UAB 76-58 on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, in American Athletic Conference women's basketball at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA senior Kyra White looks to attack the basket against the UAB Blazers. White produced 12 points and five rebounds. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“I hope that we understand that every game is a big game,” Aston said. “I think that the league really has a lot of parity. I said this last week. You see a team (that is) second or third in the league, getting beat by somebody that’s in the bottom half … I just think that there’s a lot of parity. If you don’t play the way we did today, then you’re setting yourself up for failure.”

With Aysia Proctor, Jenkins, Kyra White and Sidney Love all scoring in double figures, the Roadrunners also did a number on the Blazers defensively, holding them down to 37 percent shooting. From three-point range, UAB started off well but finished eight of 26 from behind the arc for 31 percent.

UTSA also dominated the boards, as usual, winning the battle 46-33, including 18-9 on the offensive end.

In the AAC, with so many teams roughly equal in talent, Aston said it’s all a matter of playing with urgency. The Roadrunners definitely had it going against the Blazers as they kept pounding the glass and building the lead to as many as 24 points with three minutes left. Clearly, the effort was the difference.

“I’m not saying that’s easy,” Aston said. “I think it’s easier said than done to bring the type of energy and attention to detail that we did. But when we do that, I really think we can compete with anybody.”

It was a big moment for the team when Jenkins checked into the game with 5:35 remaining in the first quarter. After a few possessions, she made her presence known, swishing a three-point shot from the left wing. Her teammates stood and cheered the moment, as the fans joined in.

“I’m just excited,” said Jenkins, a USC transfer who averaged 20.6 points at UTSA last year. “It’s been a really long time since I’ve been on the court, you know … I don’t know, it was just exciting. I worked out earlier today and was getting a whole bunch of shots up on that play specifically. As soon as coach ran that play, I kind of already had it set … I said, OK, let me come off this (screen) hard and make the shot.”


UAB 17-7, 8-4
UTSA 12-10, 6-5

Coming up

UTSA at Tulsa, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 6:30 p.m.
UTSA at North Texas, Feb. 18, 2 p.m.


UAB coach Randy Norton. UTSA beat UAB 76-58 on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, in American Athletic Conference women's basketball at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UAB coach Coach Randy Norton’s UAB Blazers came out with energy early but couldn’t sustain it, becoming the third first-place team in the American Athletic Conference to lose this season at the UTSA Convocation Center. – Photo by Joe Alexander

UAB – Kylee Schneringer scored 12 points to lead the Blazers. Guard Mia Moore had 11 points and six rebounds. Also, guard Denim DeShields, the team’s offensive catalyst, produced seven points and three assists. Together Moore and DeShields shot a combined 6 for 21 from the field. Moore left the game in the second half with a lower leg injury. Ashton Elley came off the bench to score nine points. She hit three from three-point range.

UTSA – Aysia Proctor scored a team-high 14 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Kyra White had 12 points and five boards. Jenkins and Sidney Love both scored 11 points apiece. Jenkins hit three of 12 shots from the field and one of three from long distance. She added four-for-four at the free-throw line. Idara Udo scored nine points and tied Proctor for the team-high with seven boards.

After three quarters

Playing for the first time this season with Jenkins on the floor, the Roadrunners recovered from a shaky start to build a 51-38 lead going into the fourth quarter. The Roadrunners ran an effective offense and outscored the Blazers 38-20 in the middle two periods.

By the end of the third, Proctor had 12 points, Jenkins had nine and Udo and Love six apiece.

In the second quarter, UTSA blew out UAB by a 19-6 count to take an eight-point lead at intermission. After intermission, the Roadrunners took control of the game. They outscored the first-place team in the AAC 19-14 in the third period.


UTSA promoted the game for cancer awareness. “I think it’s a reminder to all of us that there is a bigger battle going on for a lot of people across the world,” Aston said.

As she was leaving the interview room, UTSA’s Jordyn Jenkins announced her favorite in the Super Bowl. “Go Usher,” she said, referring to the singer/entertainer extraordinaire who was scheduled to serve as the halftime entertainment at the NFL championship game in Las Vegas.

Aysia Proctor. UTSA beat UAB 76-58 on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, in American Athletic Conference women's basketball at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Freshman Aysia Proctor from San Antonio-area Clemens High School led the Roadrunners with 14 points. She hit six of nine from the field and two of four from three-point distance. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Jordyn Jenkins. UTSA beat UAB 76-58 on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, in American Athletic Conference women's basketball at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Jordyn Jenkins made her UTSA season debut on a minutes restriction Sunday, totaling 12 minutes for the game. Regardless, she made a significant impact on the game, coming off the bench for 11 points and six rebounds. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Breaking: Jordyn Jenkins is on the floor, warming up for UTSA

Editor’s note: It appears that UTSA forward and 2022-23 Conference USA Player of the Year Jordyn Jenkins will make her season debut on Sunday against the UAB Blazers. Jenkins, who averaged 20.6 points a year ago, is on the floor warming up for the Roadrunners. She hasn’t played yet this year after suffering a knee injury last April. It also appears that UTSA center Elyssa Coleman will not play. Coleman didn’t practice on Saturday and isn’t in uniform.

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

UTSA women’s basketball coach Karen Aston says she will have a conversation from time to time with forward Jordyn Jenkins.

Jordyn Jenkins. UTSA women's basketball lost to UTEP 74-67 in Conference USA on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Jordyn Jenkins is expected to make her season debut for the UTSA women’s basketball team today. – File photo by Joe Alexander

The two will talk about the player’s pre-game routine.

“I’ve told her, ‘Don’t put your uniform on unless you’re ready to play, because I might put you in,’ ” Aston said.

The coach said the two discuss this topic “every day before warmups.”

Presumably, that conversation will take place again Sunday before the Roadrunners hit the floor a 1 p.m. game at the Convocation Center against the UAB Blazers.

On Saturday, it became apparent that a decision is looming on whether Jenkins will try to play in the last few weeks of the season, or whether she will continue her workouts with an eye on not playing, which would allow her to maintain two full seasons of eligibility.

For background, the 2022-23 Conference USA Player of the Year injured a knee last April. The mishap occurred in the weeks after the Roadrunners were eliminated in the semifinals from the C-USA tournament. It was evident then that her recovery would take time, and indeed it has.

A 20-points per game scorer last season, she hasn’t played yet through 21 games. At the same time, she has made steady progress and has stayed steady with her rehabilitation and her commitment to the program. Jenkins has attended every practice that I’ve seen all season. Every game, too.

Lately, her workouts have been encouraging. For the past two weeks, she seems to do a little more each time out. On Saturday, she was banging against male practice players in the post.

Afterward, I asked the coach, “Is No. 32 getting ready to play?

“Um, she looks better,” Aston said. “She’s definitely coming along.”

At that, I followed up with a question on whether the two have talked about the implications of playing the last few weeks of the season and having it count toward a year of her eligibility.

“We talk about it, for sure,” Aston said. “So, we’ll see. I mean, (the season) is winding down.”

Do you think she might play (against UAB), I asked.

“Day to day,” the coach replied.

At that, I glanced at the coach and smiled. The coach, who has a world-class poker face, smiled back — slightly.

“I don’t know,” she said.

With seven games remaining in the regular season remaining, it’s logical that today could be the day, considering the Roadrunners might need her scoring to avoid dropping their second home game in a row.

So, as the coach is fond of saying, “We’ll see.”


UAB 17-6, 8-3
UTSA 11-10, 5-5

Coming up

UTSA at Tulsa, Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.

Lawrence-led Charlotte 49ers to test the upstart UTSA women

By Jerry Briggs
Special to The JB Replay

Dazia Lawrence and the Charlotte 49ers are the talk of American Athletic Conference in women’s basketball.

Picked to finish 10th in the league’s preseason poll, the 49ers sit in first place in the AAC with a 4-0 record.

They’re warming up at the UTSA Convocation right now, preparing for a 2 p.m. game against the UTSA Roadrunners women.

Dazia Lawrence, a dynamic guard-forward, leads the 49ers. She averaged 28 points and 5.5 rebounds last week. This week, she torched the Rice Owls for 24 points in a 61-54 victory Thursday night in Houston.

“She’s definitely the head of their team,” UTSA guard Sidney Love said. “We’re just going to have to know that she’s going to hit tough shots. We’re going to have to contain her. We’ll have to adjust to what she can do. But we’ll be all right.”

UTSA has a player in Elyssa Coleman that has been putting up some numbers, as well. Coleman had 32 points and 19 rebounds last week against Wichita State and followed Wednesday night at Florida Atlantic with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

As a result, the Roadrunners have bounced back from an 0-2 start, getting to 2-2 as they prepare to face the 49ers.

“I think we’re coming off two good wins,” Love said. “We started a little slow. But I think we needed that to find a place to pick, to build on. We’re in a good space right now. We’re just building. It’s all positive energy.”

One of the most remarkable aspects of UTSA’s 8-7 season to date has been the team’s resilience in competing without Jordyn Jenkins, the Player of the Year last season in Conference USA.

Jenkins, a USC transfer who averaged 20 points per game last season, hurt her knee last April in the offseason and is still rehabilitating.

That UTSA has continued to progress as a program speaks volumes about the heart of everyone suiting up today against Charlotte.

And, just for the record, Jenkins is in the arena with her teammates as she has been all season, but she isn’t expected to play against the 49ers.

“I like to call it bittersweet, because she’s such a great player,” Love said. “We would do nothing but elevate if we had her on the court. But without her, it’s made people step up and realize that we all need each other.

“We all have to play for each other,” Love said. “We have to be big on the court in certain moments when we need to be big. I just think it’s made the team better, and when she comes back, it’ll be just that much better for everybody.”

Coming up

South Florida at UTSA, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.

Ninja-tough UTSA women brace for new season as Jenkins continues rehabilitation

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

When I first walked into the UTSA Convocation Center today, I sensed some really strange vibes. I looked down on the baseline, and I could see that Roadrunners women’s basketball coach Karen Aston was wearing a Halloween costume. Her shirt was bright green, with a splash of gold on the front. For added flair, she was wearing red wrap-around glasses of some sort.

Jordyn Jenkins. UTSA beat Charlotte 60-54 in a Conference USA women's basketball game Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Slowed by an offseason knee injury, UTSA forward Jordyn Jenkins declined to speculate on when she might be ready to play. But she said she is feeling good and working hard in individual drills on the court. – File photo by Joe Alexander

Immediately, I thought the glasses might be goggles, and that she might have assumed some SpongeBob SquarePants-type alter ego. Not true, as it turned out. Officials confirmed that Aston was dressed as a ninja turtle. And not just any ninja. She was ninja sensation “Raphael,” a movie character who apparently never met a slice of pizza that he didn’t like.

Which I guess explains the slice of pepperoni pizza hanging off the front of the coach’s shirt.

As if any other craziness was necessary, Aston’s costume came complete with a plastic green and gold mask, though the coach didn’t wear it during the workout. After practice, I knew I needed to talk to her, because, well, how often do you get a chance to interview a successful Division I women’s basketball coach rocking a turtle mask?

But first, I approached star forward Jordyn Jenkins, to ask her opinion of the coach’s Halloween schtick.

Smiling, Jenkins explained that the coaches showed up last year dressed as the ‘Minions,’ of mini-movie fame. This year, she added, the Halloween silliness morphed into a “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” theme. Smiling, she said, “I expect nothing but greatness from them.”

Expectations for the Roadrunners this year? Well, it’s time we started breaking it down, because on Wednesday night they’ll host the St. Mary’s University Rattlers in their one and only exhibition this fall. The preseason game will be played in advance of the regular-season opener scheduled for Monday night at Arizona State.

Jenkins, rehabilitating a right knee injury, likely won’t play in either the exhibition or the opener.

As reported in this space on Sept. 11, she suffered the mishap in postseason workouts in April and then underwent surgery. Officially, last year’s Conference USA Player of the Year is expected to be listed as “week to week” going into the Arizona State game, without any sort of estimate on when she can return.

Asked if she had a goal in mind on when she’d like to return, Jenkins declined to specify any point on the schedule, saying only that she doesn’t want to rush it.

Though she isn’t yet practicing with the team, Jenkins said she is doing well physically. “I’m kind of just dealing with an injury that I had in the offseason,” she said in her first public comments since taking up the rehabilitation process. “Rehab’s been good. Been working hard. Been on the court a lot. You know, just trying to keep it up.”

Elaborating, she said she’s working on offensive skills primarily and trying to stay sharp. “I’m moving around good and I feel good,” she said. “You know it’s just about getting shots up.”

Last year, Jenkins averaged 20.6 points and 7.5 rebounds. In tallying a school record 659 points, the 6-foot native of Kent, Wash., went on to become UTSA’s first Player of the Year in Conference USA. She was also Newcomer of the Year and first-team, all conference. Previously, she had played two seasons at USC and made the all-Pac 12 team in 2022.

As a team, the Roadrunners started slowly last fall and winter but came on strong in February and March to become a force, going 9-4 down the stretch and winning twice in the C-USA postseason.

Jenkins was a big part of all that, scoring in the 30s three times during the season, and hitting a season-high 40 at North Texas on Feb. 20. But even if she isn’t in the lineup immediately this fall, UTSA is talented at several positions and could be competitive in a November schedule that also includes a game against New Mexico State at home, followed by a string of road tests at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, UT Arlington, Texas Tech and Sam Houston, and then another home game against Texas State.

To start fast, UTSA will need Elyssa Coleman and guards Sidney Love and Kyra White to play well. They’ll also need help from the likes of forwards Maya Linton, Kyleigh McGuire, Idara Udo and Cheyenne Rowe to step up and play steady basketball in the position where Jenkins dominated last season.

“We seem a little more solid, a little more experienced, just more sure of what we’re doing,” Aston said. “So I think we’ll be better. Obviously, the elephant in the room is Jordyn not being available as early as we’d liked. So I think you have to take some shared responsibility.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily a huge factor. It’s something that’s noticeable when you see our team play right now (because) we did play a lot through her. But at the end of the day, we’re going to grow from this. There’s no question. Players will take some more responsibility in different areas, so, it bodes well for the long run of the season.”

Entering the American Athletic Conference this season, UTSA has been picked eighth in the 14-team league, a development that doesn’t seem to have fazed Jenkins at all.

“Wherever we are (in the polls), we just have to look at it and do something about it,” she said. “I think we can be in a really good spot in conference. We just got to work hard and be consistent. It’s really about us. As long as we’re good, we can really do whatever we want, eight more places better.”

Jenkins didn’t mention anything like a ninja mentality. Or a coach inspired by the ninja legend, Raphael. But she said she has hopes that the Roadrunners have enough fortitude to make a run in the AAC in February and March.

“I think it could possibly take us a little bit (of time) to get things going at the beginning of the season,” she said. “We have a tough preseason schedule, and it’ll set us up to be really great. Once again, we’re young, and we have a lot of dogs (with toughness, on our roster). Once we have our energy and our chemistry working, we can be dangerous. Last year, we showed that a little bit.”

Under-rated? UTSA women picked to finish eighth in AAC preseason poll

Kyra White. UTSA women's basketball beat Florida International 85-79 for Senior Day on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Former Judson standout Kyra White played a key role in UTSA’s resurgence at the end of last year. Entering her senior year, she says she wants to see the team finish with a winning record and play into March. — Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The UTSA women’s basketball team is a bit of a mystery entering its first season as a member of the American Athletic Conference. Coach Karen Aston’s third team at UTSA is picked eighth out of 14 teams, according to the AAC’s preseason poll.

Last year, UTSA started slowly but finished strong and completed records of 13-19 overall and 9-11 in Conference USA. Aston’s team played well at the end, beat some of the C-USA’s top teams and won twice in the postseason tournament to reach the semifinals.

Based on the strong showing at the end and the fact that just about all of her players are returning, it was a bit of a surprise to see the AAC coaches pick them so low. But it may be because the jury is still out on Jordyn Jenkins, the Roadrunners’ top player, who suffered an offseason knee injury.

Because of the injury, her status is one of the unknowns going into the last month of practice, though the coaches did vote her onto the AAC’s preseason all-conference second team. In a televised interview Monday morning on ESPN Plus, UTSA coach Karen Aston addressed a variety of topics:

On Elyssa Coleman, the coach said the 6-foot-3 junior from Atascocita High School is growing into a leadership role.

“She’s three years into my system now and she really understands what my expectations are. Part of that is relationship,” Aston said. “You have a relationship with someone that goes back a long way and they trust you. She’s just become an anchor for us. Her shot blocking ability is really good.

“She’s become much better offensively just through growth. But I think if I had to say one thing, it’s that she committed to us, to helping us move the needle in the program, and she has stayed committed to that. That’s been the most valuable to us.”

On Jenkins, the coach was asked about how a power forward coming out of Conference USA as Player of the Year did not receive that type of recognition in the AAC’s preseason awards.

“People didn’t necessarily, I would say, maybe respect what she did last year,” Aston said. “Or recognize (it), so to say. But she’s enormously talented. I mean, there’s no question about it. I’m excited about seeing what we do with Jordyn this year. I’m excited for her. She’s one of those types of players — and I’ve had several — that really loves the gym. She has a passion for the game, and she’s really a joy to coach.”

On how it takes time for young players to communicate on defense:

“There’s not a magical tool for that one,” Aston said. “They grow into that. For example, I have a sophomore point guard (Sidney Love) who started for me last year as a freshman. (Sidney) is a very talented player that has started to come into her own. Sidney, you can hear her voice a little bit this year. She started at the point all of last year. Probably never heard her more than twice. Now you’re starting to hear her more. It’s a maturity process.”

UTSA senior Kyra White was one of Aston’s players who traveled to Dallas for the media function. She talked to an ESPN reporter about the process of transitioning from the C-USA into the AAC.

Said White, “The experience has been really solid so far. Since we’ve got our core team back, it’s just (been) focusing on the next step, trying to find our identity on the floor. Whatever it is. Defense. Offensive rebounds. Running the floor in transition. Just focusing on the little things, to be productive and efficient in the conference this year.”

White, who played in high school at Judson, also was asked about goals. Both personally and for the team. White said she’d like to be all-conference and for the team to come out and post a winning record and keep playing in the month of March.

“For the team, we’d like to have an above .500 record and have some type of postseason play,” she said. “Obviously, the NCAA tournament is the main goal. But really, like I said, with this being my last year, just trying to get over that hump and being able to play in March anyway.”

Preseason Coaches’ Poll

1. South Florida (10) 166
2. East Carolina (4) 159
3. Rice 135
4. SMU 118
5. Memphis 115
6. Tulane 110
7. Tulsa 104
8. UTSA 75
9. Temple 72
10. Charlotte 62
11. Wichita State 53
12. North Texas 47
13. UAB 30
14. Florida Atlantic 28

x-First-place votes in parentheses

Preseason Player of the Year

Danae McNeal, Gr., G, East Carolina

Preseason All-Conference First Team

Amiya Joyner, So., F, East Carolina
Danae McNeal, Gr., G, East Carolina*
Madison Griggs, Gr., G, Memphis
Sammie Puisis, Sr., G, South Florida
Temira Poindexeter, Jr., F, Tulsa

Preseason All-Conference Second Team

Dazia Lawrence, R-Jr., G, Charlotte
Aniya Hubbard, So., G, Florida Atlantic
Malia Fisher, Jr., F, Rice
Aleah Nelson, 5th, G, Temple
Jordyn Jenkins, Sr., F, UTSA

UTSA women’s basketball prepares to enter the American with talent, depth and experience

UTSA coach Karen Aston. North Texas beat UTSA 51-48 in Conference USA women's basketball on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Coach Karen Aston’s UTSA Roadrunners won nine of their last 13 games last season and executed a spirited charge into the semifinals of the C-USA tournament. – File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Three weeks away from the start of official fall practices, UTSA women’s basketball coaches are feeling pretty good about the talent, the depth and the experience on a team that will carry the school’s flag into its first season in the American Athletic Conference.

“I think we’re in a better place than we were last year at this time,” third-year UTSA head coach Karen Aston said Monday “We had some carryover from people sticking around and not transferring.

Jordyn Jenkins. The UTSA women's basketball team lost to Louisiana Tech 62-57 in the Roadrunners' Conference USA opener on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Forward Jordyn Jenkins averaged 20.6 points per game in her first season at UTSA. Coach Karen Aston says the 6-foot power forward is rehabilitating an offseason knee injury. – File photo by Joe Alexander

“You know, we didn’t graduate a lot of kids. Hailey (Atwood) returned for us (as a graduate student). I think there’s just a little more carryover. We’re a little further ahead than we were this time last year.”

One issue looms with a question regarding the health of star forward Jordyn Jenkins. Aston said that Jenkins suffered a knee injury last spring that required surgery.

The coach declined to discuss the mishap in detail, other than to say that last season’s Conference USA Player of the Year was hurt in the offseason, in a March-April time frame.

Aston also declined to speculate on how far along Jenkins is in the rehabilitation process, with the season opener for the Roadrunners looming on Nov. 6 at Arizona State.

“We’re really disappointed for her,” she said. “She was in such a really good place. We’ll just see how she recovers.”

If Jenkins can return to form, the Roadrunners could have one of the most talented teams in school history.

In her first season at UTSA after transferring from Southern Cal, the 6-foot power forward captured the C-USA’s Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year honors by averaging 20.6 points (on 49 percent shooting) and 7.5 rebounds a game.

Tossing in a school single-season record 659 points, Jenkins led the charge as the Roadrunners finished 9-4 down the stretch to post a final mark of 13-19.

Near the end, they won six games in a row, including their last four in the regular season and their first two in the C-USA postseason.

At that point, after notching tournament wins over Florida Atlantic and Rice to move within two victories of the NCAA’s Big Dance, they were ousted by Western Kentucky in the conference semifinals.

Moving into the AAC this season, the Roadrunners are loaded with experienced players, including five returning starters.

Strength down low last year came from Jenkins and 6-3 center Elyssa Coleman (9.5 points, 6.5 rebounds). The lead guards were Sidney Love (9.9 points) and Kyra White (8.0), with Atwood playing on the wing. Those five started the last game of the C-USA tournament.

Key reserves for most of the year included forward Maya Linton and guards Madison Cockrell, Siena Guttadauro and Alexis Parker. Along with those four, Kyleigh McGuire also played off the bench — and all five of them are back. Another player returning is Nissa Sam-Grant, a 6-foot-4 post, who redshirted last season.

A few weeks into early fall semester workouts, there’s a completely different feel from this time last year, when the Roadrunners were trying to manage a team with eight newcomers, including five freshmen.

“Last year, we brought in eight new people,” assistant coach Empress Davenport said. “That’s essentially a starting five with reserves coming off the bench, having to learn a whole new system, having to understand the pace of collegiate basketball.

“This year we brought in three freshmen (guards Emma Lucio and Aysia Proctor and forward Idara Udo) and a transfer from James Madison, Cheyenne Rowe, who has a tremendous IQ.

“Last year, everyone was trying to learn the system and find cohesiveness (with) each other. Now, we have so much experience, our veteran players can pretty much coach the young ones.”

UTSA roster

Elyssa Coleman 6-3 forward/RS junior
Hailey Atwood 5-8 guard/grad
Alexis Parker 5-9 guard/soph
Emma Lucio 5-9 guard/freshman
Siena Guttadauro 5-6 guard/soph
Madison Cockrell 5-4 guard/soph
Sidney Love 5-8 guard/soph
Aysia Proctor 5-8 guard/freshman
Maya Linton 5-11 forward/soph
Cheyenne Rowe 6-2 forward/soph
Kyra White 5-9 guard/senior
Kyleigh McGuire 5-11 forward/senior
Idara Udo 6-1 forward/freshman
Nissa Sam-Grant 6-4 center/senior
Jordyn Jenkins 6-0 forward/senior

UTSA women have excelled lately even when Jenkins struggles

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The UTSA women’s basketball team is built around junior forward Jordyn Jenkins, the Conference USA Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year.

Jordyn Jenkins. UTSA women's basketball beat No. 21 Middle Tennessee 58-53 on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

C-USA Player of the Year Jordyn Jenkins played through foul trouble and scored 22 points in 25 minutes Thursday against Rice in the conference tournament quarterfinals. – File photo by Joe Alexander

Ask anyone why UTSA has been able to forge a 9-3 record over the past six weeks, after starting the season with 15 losses in 19 games, and you will hear all about Jenkins, the best player in the program since Monica Gibbs led the 2008 and 2009 teams to a pair of conference titles and NCAA tournament appearances.

Just this week, however, fans have started to realize that UTSA is not a one-woman show.

The Roadrunners have started to blossom into a team that can play championship-caliber basketball even when Jenkins isn’t on her game or is saddled with foul trouble. Just yesterday, Coach Karen Aston’s ball club pulled itself out of a 15-point deficit to win its second game in two days at the C-USA tournament, rallying to beat the Rice Owls, 62-54.

In victories over Florida Atlantic and Rice in the past two days, Jenkins has played only 21 and 25 minutes, respectively. When she was not on the floor, the team did not cave in as sometimes happened back in November and December. The team keeps playing. Thus, UTSA will play tonight in Frisco against the WKU Lady Toppers in the C-USA semifinals.

Here is a look at a few players not named Jordyn Jenkins who have elevated the team into one of the four still alive and vying for the C-USA title:

Freshman point guard Sidney Love

Sidney Love. UTSA beat Florida Atlantic 77-61 in Conference USA women's basketball on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Sidney Love keeps the defense honest with her ability to drive to the bucket. She’s also cut down on turnovers drastically over the last four games. – File photo by Joe Alexander

Love is playing with confidence and doing what she does best, which is scoring. Utilizing her quickness and ability to dribble drive either to the right or left, the freshman from Steele High School hit eight of 16 shots from the field against Florida Atlantic and five of eight against Rice. She’s scored 33 points in the tournament, none more important than the 11 in the fourth-quarter comeback yesterday against Rice.

Junior guard Kyra White

Ms. Versatility is also one of the most competitive kids I’ve ever seen. White handles the ball, distributes, plays defense, rebounds. Everything. Even with a shaky first-half performance against Rice, she pulled herself together and continued to play hard in the third and fourth quarters. She even got a few shots to go down. Looked to me like she just willed it to happen, and it did.

Kyra White. UTSA women's basketball beat No. 21 Middle Tennessee 58-53 on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

Kyra White produced nine points, eight rebounds and five steals against the Rice Owls. – File photo by Joe Alexander

Sophomore center Elyssa Coleman

The 6-foot-3 sophomore from Atascocita has 18 points, 17 rebounds and six blocked shots in two games at Frisco. Going back to the start of UTSA’s 9-3 push toward respectability, she’s been a defensive force. Not quite as fast as Jenkins, she can run the floor well and always causes problems for opponents driving the ball. Coleman isn’t always highly involved in the offense, but when she is, she seems to deliver. She was four of eight from the field against Florida Atlantic and four of 11 against Rice.

Guard Hailey Atwood

Hailey Atwood has emerged as Coach Karen Aston’s go-to defender against the opponent’s best perimeter threat. Atwood also brings a tremendous amount of energy. She started off slowly this year as she worked her way back in injury rehabilitation, but she is now entrenched as a valued starter. Other players in the rotation during the tournament have included Deb Nwakamma, Siena Guttadauro, Maya Linton, Queen Ulabo and a cameo yesterday by Madison Cockrell. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Kyleigh McGuire or Alexis Parker tonight against WKU, either.

Elyssa Coleman. UTSA beat Rice 66-53 in Conference USA women's basketball on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, at the Convocation Center. - Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA sophomore Elyssa Coleman is a post player who made the C-USA’s all defensive team. — File photo by Joe Alexander


Looks to me like center Nissa Sam-Grant will be a solid contributor next year. She is 6-4 and can run pretty well. She’s a transfer who sat out all this season.

C-USA women’s tournament

Friday’s semifinals

No. 1 Middle Tennessee (26-4) vs. No. 4 UTEP (20-10), 4:30 p.m.
No. 2 WKU (18-12) vs. No. 6 UTSA (13-18), 7 p.m.

Saturday’s championship game

Friday’s winners, 4:30 p.m.