JR Payne remains steadfast in her belief the Colorado women’s basketball team can pull a few surprises during the 2020-21 season.
The voters in the league’s annual preseason polls did not share that optimism.
On Tuesday, Payne and the Buffaloes landed at No. 10 in a vote by 21 media members who cover the league. The Buffs fared a little better in the coaches poll, coming in at No. 9.
The top five were identical in both polls, with Stanford getting tabbed as the Pac-12 favorite. Arizona, Oregon, UCLA, and Oregon State rounded out the top five. The Buffs have not finished better than ninth in the preseason media poll since they were voted third in 2013.
“I think definitely we have the personnel, the leadership and the camaraderie, along with a lot more depth than we’ve ever had, to surprise people,” said Payne, who is entering her fifth season at CU. “I love our team. We didn’t lose a lot. We only had one senior last year and only three upperclassmen last year. So we were very young, but a lot of those young players played significant minutes in some significant games, close games. I felt like our young crew really grew a lot as this season went on.
“They’re taking a stronger leadership role, and the cohesiveness of this group is unlike any team that we’ve had at Colorado before. In my time, at least. I think we will surprise some people. We’re playing pretty well right now.”
Two CU players received preseason all-conference recognition, with sophomore guard Jaylyn Sherrod and senior forward Mya Hollingshed receiving honorable mention accolades. Both players received All-Pac-12 recognition last season — Sherrod earned a spot on the All-Freshman team and Hollingshed getting named honorable mention All-Pac-12.
Sherrod averaged 5.1 assists per game last season and finished with 152 assists, the third-most ever by a CU freshman and the ninth-most by any Buffs player all-time. Hollingshed averaged 13.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists last year — all career-highs — while posting three 20-point games. Hollingshed will enter her senior season just 111 points shy of 1,000 for her career.
“I basically would say I’ve taken that experience and just allowed it to be more of a learning lesson, and to now be in position to help others on the team and grow in my leadership,” Sherrod said. “Knowing more offensively and defensively, being able to be more vocal on the court and outside of basketball.”
On Monday, the Buffs released their 25-game 2020-21 schedule, which begins with the first of three nonconference games, all at home, on Nov. 25 against Western Colorado. CU will play a 22-game Pac-12 schedule that begins the weekend of Dec. 4-7 on the road against the Oregon teams.
Pac-12 Conference women’s basketball preseason media poll
1. Stanford (19) 248
2. Arizona (1) 225
3. Oregon 201
4. UCLA 200
5. Oregon State (1) 174
6. Arizona State 135
7. Southern California 130
8. Utah 94
9. California 76
10. Colorado 75
11. Washington 53
12. Washington State 27
Pac-12 Conference women’s basketball preseason coaches poll
1. Stanford (10) 120
2. Arizona (2) 103
3. Oregon 103
4. UCLA 88
5. Oregon State 83
6. Southern California 69
7. Arizona State 61
8. Utah 52
9. Colorado 43
10. Cal 31
11. Washington 24
12. Washington State 15