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Locally: WSU’s Charlisse Leger-Walker and Bella Murekatete, and former CV star Lexie Hull make preseason basketball watch lists

Nov. 1, 2021 Updated Mon., Nov. 1, 2021 at 6:09 p.m.

Washington State guard Charlisse Leger-Walker was Pac-12 Freshman of the Year last season.  (Associated Press)
Washington State guard Charlisse Leger-Walker was Pac-12 Freshman of the Year last season. (Associated Press)
From staff and wire services

Washington State has two players named to Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association watch lists for NCAA Division I postseason awards.

Cougars sophomore Charlisse Leger-Walker, the reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, and former Central Valley standout Lexie Hull of Stanford are among the 20 in the running for the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award that goes to the player deemed the best shooting guard in the country during the 2021-22 season.

WSU junior Bella Murekatete, a 6-foot-3 post from Rwanda who played her high school basketball at Genesis Prep in Post Falls, is one of 20 players vying for the Lisa Leslie Award that goes to the player considered the best center in the country.

Leger-Walker and Hull are among five Pac-12 players on the Meyers Drysdale list, joined by Taylor Chavez (Arizona), Sydney Parrish (Oregon)and Charisma Osborne (UCLA). Murekatete is one of three Pac-12 players on the Leslie list, joined by Stanford’s Francesca Belibi and Washington’s Nancy Mulkey.

Fans can vote on the awards, both which started in 2018 and honor former Pac-12 standouts – Meyers at UCLA and Leslie at USC – at Winners will be announced in March.

Leger-Walker, a New Zealand native, led the Pac-12 in scoring last season with a WSU freshman-record 18.8 ppg.

She scored 20 or more points in 12 of 24 games and led the Cougars with 2.5 steals a game on the way to becoming the 22nd player in Pac-12 history to be selected to both the All-Pac-12 and All-Pac-12 Freshman teams. She was also a USBWA All-America Honorable Mention.

Hull, a senior, played a key role as Sanford won the school’s third NCAA Championship in 2021. A two-time All-Pac-12 selection, she led the Cardinal in steals in 2021 with 51 and was third on the team in both scoring (11.6 ppg) and minutes played (26.4).

She was also named to the NCAA Final Four and Alamo Region all-tournament teams and was a CoSIDA Academic All-District selection for a second time.

Murekatete, who has started 45 games in her WSU career, is coming off a 2020-21 campaign that saw her finish in the Pac-12 top-10 in total blocks (38, that tied for second) and rebounds (6.7 per game, 10th). She also averaged a career-best 8.5ppg, scoring in double figures 10 times.


Shawn Noël, who has more than a decade of experience in college athletics leadership, most recently as director of athletics at Union County College in Cranford, New Jersey, since 2018, has been hired as the new director of athletics and recreation at North Idaho College.

Noël, scheduled to be on staff starting Dec. 6, will replace Bobby Lee, who left NIC in September to become athletic director at Mt. Spokane High School.

NIC vice president for student services Graydon Stanley is quoted in the release announcing the hiring saying, “He is a skilled and experienced leader with a strong record of success in community college athletics and recreation.”

Noël is quoted in part saying, “My goal is to have our student-athletes be the shining stars of the campus. I want them to stand out in the classroom, on the field, and in the community.”

He was director of athletics and recreation at Brookdale Community College in New Jersey from 2012 to 2018 following leadership stints at Garrett College in Maryland (2010-12) and Herkimer County Community College in New York (2007-10).

Noël has a master of business administration from the State University of New York at Albany and a bachelor of science in marketing from the State University of New York at Oswego.

College scene

Madelyn Buckley, a Whitworth freshman from Lakeside of Nine Mile Falls, finished second in the women’s division of the 2021 Northwest Conference Cross Country Championships on Saturday at Michelbook Country Club in McMinneville, Oregon.

Buckley, who covered the 6K course in 23 minutes, 23.5 seconds, was joined in the top 10 by junior teammate Ellie Shoop, who was ninth in 24:00.7. Junior Kara Putman of Pacific won in 23:08.1. Whitworth finished fifth as a team with 129 points. Nationally eighth-ranked George Fox won with 40.

Matt Christianson, a grad student from Cheney, was the Pirates men’s top finisher in 29th. He timed 27:40.1 for 8K. Sophomore Ryan Stracke of Pacific Lutheran won in 25:40.9. George Fox edged PLU 53-54 to repeat as team champion. Whitworth finished eighth with 180.

• For the second time in her freshman season, Washington State’s Nadia Cooper was named the Pac-12 women’s soccer goalkeeper of the week on Oct. 25. She also received the award on Oct. 4.

Facing two of the top offensive teams in the country – USC and UCLA – Cooper conceded just one goal in 220 minutes in the two double-overtime games. She opened the week shutting out seventh-ranked USC for her sixth shutout of the season that earned the Cougars a scoreless draw. WSU played to a 1-1 draw with No. 8 UCLA.

Cooper, who made five saves in each match, leads the nation in goals against (four) and goals-against average (0.36). Her 11 clean sheets are the second-most shutouts in program history.

Taylor Brust, an Idaho grad student midfielder, broke the school women’s soccer program appearance record on Oct. 24 when she played in her 79th match, a 2-1, season-ending, overtime win over Eastern Washington in Moscow. The old mark had stood for nearly a decade. She’ll look to add to her total in the Big Sky tournament this week.

• Area athletes collected Cascade Collegiate Conference player of the week awards in men’s soccer and women’s volleyball for the week of Oct. 18-24.

Dalton Mauzay, an Eastern Oregon senior from Cheney, was the men’s soccer POW after he played 150 minutes in goal and posted two shutouts. He made eight saves in a 1-0 blanking of Carroll and made one while playing 60 minutes of the Mounties’ 6-0 win over Walla Walla.

Kenzie Dean, a Lewis-Clark State junior defensive specialist from Timberlake, was the volleyball defender of the week for the second time this year. The consistent leader of the Warriors’ back row had 52 digs in three victories during the week. Besides averaging 4.73 digs per set, Dean had three service aces and four assists.

Klaire Mitchell, a Grand Canyon junior from Lake City, was the Western Athletic Conference volleyball offensive player of the week for the week of Oct. 18-24 after averaging 14 assists per set in a three-set win over Sam Houston and a four-set win over Stephen F. Austin.

She had 38 assists against Sam Houston and a career-high 60 against Stephen F. Austin, the third-most in a four-set match in NCAA Division I this season. Her 10.2 assists per set season average rank second in the WAC.

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