Eight new faces headline 2021-22 women’s basketball roster

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Nina Augustin is set to return for her graduate season in addition to eight new recruits and four other returning players for the upcoming season. Photo Credit: Tyler Gallo/Colonial Sports Network

By Ethan Morrison, Assistant Sports Editor

In “the year of the portal”, college athletes have been flooding the transfer portal in hopes for greener pastures on the other side. This is the same case for the Robert Morris women’s basketball team, as 10 players decided to hit the transfer portal this past season.

Coach Charlie Buscaglia had a lot of options when it came to building his roster, he could go after high school recruits or he could pick up players out of the highly active transfer portal. Deciding to do a little bit of both, on Wednesday, Robert Morris athletics announced the roster for the upcoming women’s basketball season.

The roster is headlined by Argentinian sophomore forward Sol Castro who led the team in scoring last season, averaging just under 10 points per game.

Natalie Villaflor returns for her senior season after coming mostly off the bench in 2020-21, averaging 3.6 points and just under three rebounds.

Esther Castedo also returns for her senior season after capping off last season on a high note, scoring a career-high 21 points against Northern Kentucky in the first round of the Horizon League Tournament.

Nina Augustin took advantage of the extra year of eligibility and will be returning for her graduate season after averaging just under seven points per game. The Finland native has appeared in over 100 games at Robert Morris during her career, sealing her reputation as one of the most durable and reliable players the Colonials have seen over her career.

Rounding out the list of returning players is Mackenzie Amalia. The Beaver County native emerged towards the latter half of the 2020-21 season, scoring 22 points in the opening game of the final series of the regular season against Purdue Fort Wayne.

Buscaglia landed one transfer in this year’s recruiting class, adding Ashya Klopfenstein, a junior who played JuCo ball at Dawson Community College. Klopfenstein was a two-year College Coaches’ All-American Team pick at Dawson. In her sophomore campaign, she started in 20 of the 22 games that she appeared in. Klopfenstein averaged a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds while shooting at a 55-percent clip from the field.

Delaware native Janeira Scott kicks off the long list of high school recruits as she signed her national letter of intent with Robert Morris in November of 2020. In her high school career, Scott helped Woodbridge High School to four Division 2 championships including the 2020 conference title. She also earned All-State Second Team honors as well as a spot on the Top 15 in the South list. She shot the ball at a 65-percent clip from the field and averaged 15 points, eight assists and seven steals per game.

Last season, Robert Morris struggled down low and Coach B and his staff addressed this by landing Danielle Vuletich, a 6-2 center from Berlin Center, Ohio. Vuletich was a force in high school, posting 35 double-doubles and one triple-double in her first three seasons of high school basketball. She also received All-County Player of the year and Ohio Girls Basketball Report (OGBR) top 25 honors in her junior season after averaging 21 points and 12 rebounds.

Jazmyne Deshields is a guard from Memphis, Tennesee who also signed her NLI in November 2020. She was named to All-District First Team as well as All-Region Second Team over her high school career. She also broke North Stafford High School’s single-season record for assists and three-pointers in 2018-19.

Across the pond, guard Rebecca Dwomoh competed at the U18 European Championships for Great Britain in 2018-2019 where she averaged 5.1 points and 4.6 rebounds in eight Division B games at U18 European Championships.

Next is Phoenix Gedeon. Gedeon is a native of Montreal and was a two-sport athlete at Life Center Academy in New Jersey, competing in basketball and volleyball. Gedeon received an MVP award and a Top Offensive Player accolade over her high school career.

Simone Morris is a guard from Carson, California who was a 2021 McDonald’s All-American Game nomination back in February of 2021. At Long Beach Poly High School, she averaged 10 points, five rebounds and four assists over her varsity career, and like Gedeon, she was also a two-sport athlete, competing in both basketball and softball.

Rounding out the list of high school recruits is Alejandra Mastral, a 5-8 guard from Zaragoza, Spain. Mastral led her club, Stadium Casablanca, to its first Queens Mini-Cup Tournament title in 2017. She also averaged 14.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game in her prep career. She competed for the Spanish National Team at the U12 to U16 levels.

As of now, only one game is scheduled for the Colonials at the moment as they take on Pitt Johnstown on November 23, and with the roster now complete, the season will be here sooner than later.