Ashland University junior guard Jodi Johnson has been named the 2018-19 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Preseason Player of the Year, as the conference's annual women's basketball preview and preseason poll were released on Thursday (Oct. 25) morning.
Last season, Johnson, the 2017-18 Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) and NCAA Division II Conference Commissioner's Association (D2CCA) national Player of the Year, the 2017-18 GLIAC Player of the Year and the basketball nominee for the 2018 Honda Division II Woman Athlete of the Year award, recorded arguably the best season for any guard in program history. She averaged 18.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 3.7 steals per game, while shooting 60.3 percent from the field, a school-record 58.1 percent from 3-point range and 84.8 percent from the free-throw line.
Her 691 points were third-most in Ashland women's basketball history, and her 137 steals and 167 free throws made both far and away are the Eagle single-season records. Johnson led D-II in both total steals and steals per game (3.73).
Both Johnson and junior guard Renee Stimpert are on the preseason All-GLIAC South Division team. In her first season as a starter in 2017-18, Stimpert set a school record for assists in a season with 239, and enters the new season fifth on the Eagles' all-time helper list with 382. She was a second-team All-GLIAC choice after averaging 10.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 2.7 steals per contest.
In the 2018-19 GLIAC preseason poll, the Eagles are picked to finish second in the South Division. Ashland had 54 total voting points and four first-place votes, while Grand Valley State was chosen to win the South with 58 total voting points and seven first-place votes.
In 2017-18, Ashland's women were 36-1 overall and 20-0 in the GLIAC. The Eagles were the NCAA Division II runner-up, and winners of GLIAC regular-season, GLIAC Tournament and Midwest Regional tournament championships. In the last seven seasons, Ashland has two national titles, two national finalist finishes, an overall record of 217-24 (.900), and is the first program in GLIAC women's basketball history to win both five regular-season and five tournament titles in a seven-year period.
2018-19 GLIAC Women's Basketball Preseason Poll
Format: Rank. Team - Total Votes (First Place Votes)
1. Northern Michigan - 60 (10)
2. Michigan Tech - 50 (2)
3. Ferris State - 43
4. Parkside - 27
T5. Lake Superior State - 18
T5. Purdue Northwest - 18
1. Grand Valley State - 58 (7)
2. Ashland - 54 (4)
3. Wayne State - 39
4. Northwood - 31
5. Davenport - 18
6. Saginaw Valley – 16
2018-19 GLIAC Women's Basketball Preseason All-Conference Teams
Darby Youngstrom - Northern Michigan
Lexi Smith - Northern Michigan
Elizabeth Kelliher - Michigan Tech
Ali Bettencourt - Parkside
Lilly George - Ferris State
Jodi Johnson - Ashland (Preseason Player of the Year)
Cassidy Boensch - Grand Valley State
Renee Stimpert - Ashland
Natalie Koenig - Grand Valley State
Nastassja Chambers - Wayne State