USU women’s basketball newcomer breakdown: College of Southern Idaho transfer Jamisyn Heaton | Sports

Utah State’s first-year head coach Wesley Brooks has brought in a lot of guard talent this offseason, including four freshmen guards and JuCo transfer Mia Tarver. With the addition of the 5-foot-10 wing Jamisyn Heaton, there will be a bit more size and rebounding on the wing for the Aggies to complement the scoring potential many of the smaller guards are bringing to the roster.

Heaton is making the jump into Division I, having spent one year in D2 as a freshman at Colorado Mesa and then a single season in the JuCo ranks at the College of Southern Idaho. At both stops she remained relatively close to her hometown of Lehi, Utah.

Her time at CMU wasn’t her most fruitful stop, even though she started 29 games as a true freshman. Heaton’s offensive impact was limited by poor shooting percentages (31.5 overall) and the team had a sub-.500 record of 13-16. At CSI, Heaton made a jump in not only production, but efficiency, and was part of a highly successful squad that won 28 games, claimed the Region 18 tournament title and went to the NJCAA Tournament and won a game there. Heaton upped all three of her shooting percentages to averages of 49.2 overall, 28.0 from three and 71.2 on free throws.

Heaton led CSI in scoring at 12.6 points per game despite being third on the team in minutes (22.7 per game), the relatively low minutes being a product of CSI’s very deep rotation (and also some lax stat-keeping). Adjusting her stats to reflect a 30 minutes per game role would give her averages of 16.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 2.0 steals.

Those stats show the high end of Heaton’s ability to impact the game through solid scoring, very respectable rebounding numbers and the ability to cause chaos on defense with her combination of length and quickness. At the same time, despite being listed as a guard, she shouldn’t be confused with the primary ball-handlers and on-ball scorers on the team. The majority of what Heaton does in terms of scoring comes from spot-up situations. She has a workable 3-point percentage of 28.0 and is very adept in attacking close-outs, finishing with either hand at the rim or throwing in some post-spins if she’s stopped short of the goal by help defense. But she’s not an on-ball creator, nor a great passer.

Clarifying that most of her scoring comes more from spot-up or off-ball situations shouldn’t be conflated with degrading the efforts of Heaton on that side of the court. She’s clearly able to impact the game, evidenced by her production and efficiency if nothing else.

Having a player able to attack the rim with aggression and finish at a respectable rate is a very valuable thing to have on the team and it’s something that the shorter guards aren’t going to bring. Heaton displayed a physical approach to finishing, often seeking out contact in an effort to draw fouls but still finishing through said contact to maximize her scoring potential.

With this approach, Heaton wound up not only leading the team in free throw attempts (142), but also ranking 42nd among all D1 NCJAA players.

Heaton will have a chance to be a situationally deadly scorer. She’s not going to be the top gun of the offense, but if she’s able to translate her game to the D1 level, teams that underestimate her will be at great risk of a breakout scoring night.

Aside from some potentially sneaky scoring, one of the more interesting skillsets Heaton will bring to the Aggies is rebounding, particularly offensive rebounding. Given she’s usually never the tallest, or even second or third tallest, player on the court, it is good to see Heaton consistently challenging for rebounds on the offensive glass. Every time it looked like a shot might go up, Heaton immediately sought out an open lane to cut toward the paint and snag a potential miss. She’s also very good at using leverage to pin opponents with her hip to keep them out of range for rebounds.

On a lot of possessions, this goes unnoticed, and on a couple of those clips a bad break kept Heaton from even getting the rebounds. But it’s the constant effort that counts and it helped her produce 85 offensive boards which made up more than 40 percent of her total rebounds.

It’s hard to say at this point if Heaton will be a key part of the rotation. The potential is there for her to be that, but Ivory Finley and Samiana Suguturaga — two of USU’s top three returners — play essentially the same position and will be fighting for essentially the same role on offense, defense and as quality rebounders. And that’s not including some of the incoming freshmen like Carlie Latta and Karlie Banks who will make the battle for minutes at small forward a very tightly contested one.

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