The 2018-19 college basketball season is close at hand, and that means preseason polls and awards are being announced.
Ashland University's women's basketball team is at the top of Small College Hoops' Women's Division II Bulletin preseason edition, as the Eagle women are the No. 1-ranked team in the Bulletin's national poll, and junior guard/forward Jodi Johnson is its preseason Player of the Year.
In 2017-18, Ashland's women were 36-1 overall and 20-0 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. 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, and an overall record of 217-24 (.900).
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 record. Johnson led D-II in both total steals and steals per game (3.73).
Named an honorable mention preseason D-II All-American was junior guard Renee Stimpert. 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.
Ashland opens the 2018-19 season on Nov. 9 at 5:45 p.m. vs. Cedarville at Ohio Dominican. The Eagles will play an exhibition game on Nov. 4 at 2 p.m. at NCAA Division I Purdue, which will be televised on BTN+.