Solid sophomore class looks to take next step for CU women’s basketball

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Colorado sophomore Mya Hollingshed is part of a sophomore class that hopes to turn last year's experience into better results this season. Go to for more photos

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Colorado sophomore Annika Jank was the team's leading rebounder in 2018.



Mya Hollingshed is the last player who ever expected to have a standing green light to fire away from 3-point range.

At 6-foot-4, Hollingshed far and away was the biggest player at Bellaire High School in Houston, and while she always was confident in her touch from outside, patrolling the paint was her primary job as a youngster.

That changed last year as a freshman at Colorado, as Hollingshed made an immediate impact as a surprisingly reliable 3-point shooter. With the Buffaloes continuing preseason workouts, Hollingshed is part of a sophomore class that hopes to turn last year’s experience into better results this season in the program’s third season under coach JR Payne.

“I really liked my 3-point shooting,” Hollingshed said. “It really helped from the start for something I could do. Because in high school I just never really had the opportunity to shoot it. Being the tallest person on the team, I was in the post. This year I’m trying to be more of an inside-outside player.

“When I got here I think (3-point shooting) was just a thing that happened. I just worked on it and it was like, ‘Wow, I can really shoot.'”

The revelation of Hollingshed as a dependable 3-point shooter was just one aspect of the 2017-18 freshman class that should continue to help the Buffs this season and beyond. That group includes forward Annika Jank, the team’s leading rebounder who won three Pac-12 Conference Freshman of the Week honors early in the season before receiving honorable mention accolades on the Pac-12 All-Freshman team. And also guard Aubrey Knight, who averaged 4.4 rebounds per game before going down with a shoulder injury late in the season that later required surgery.

Payne discussed the potential of that sophomore class Wednesday during the program’s annual media day at the CU Events Center, believing the entire trio is ready to take the next step.

“Those three logged a lot of minutes against great competition in a great conference,” Payne said. “And there’s no better teacher than experience. So to have sophomores on your roster that have played a lot in big games, close games, against great competition, those three will make a difference as sophomores I do believe.”

Hollingshed averaged 6.8 points in 29 games off the bench last year while also connecting at a .427 clip (35-for-83) from 3-point range, a mark that ranks eighth all-time among CU’s single-season leaders. Hollingshed also shot .808 at the free throw line, but she produced that figure in limited attempts and struggled to make contributions beyond the occasional flurry of long-range marksmanship.

This year, Payne and Hollingshed alike are hoping she brings a more complete all-around game to the floor.

“I’m just bringing the mentality of trying to be tough,” Hollingshed said. “The posts in the Pac-12, they’re kind of thick. I’m an undersized post if anything when I do play the post. I’m just trying to use my athleticism to go by them, using my quickness on the block. I think that will help me expand and help me use my length to a certain extent.”

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