Class of 2023 rookies to watch this season

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo

Members of the women's volleyball team gear up for their next set.

Thousands of freshmen will soon flood campus to begin their college careers, among them dozens of new student-athletes ready to bolster the ranks of GW teams. Here are a few freshman players to watch this season as they make their college debuts.

Baseball: Joe Biancone

Baseball head coach Gregg Ritchie’s skilled recruiting has been key to the Colonials’ development over the past seven years, and nabbing Biacone for the 2020 squad is another feather in his cap. The utility player from John Jay High School in New York was ranked the No. 1 shortstop prospect and No. 281 overall by Prep Baseball Report. He is one of 13 players in the 2019 recruiting class.

Biacone’s experience at shortstop, the most demanding defensive position, will further cement the Colonials’ defense. As a utility player, he can handle all infield positions and provide depth off the bench during an 80-game season. He also has experience on the mound as a two-way player, giving Ritchie further bullpen flexibility. For a team that has experienced its fair share of pitching woes, this extra support could be invaluable.

Softball: Daniella Wilson

Wilson was a late addition to this year’s five recruits, announcing her commitment to the program in mid-July.

Her senior season at Indian Land High School in South Carolina was an offensive bonanza, hitting .645 with six home runs and 42 runs batted in. A two-sport athlete, she excelled in both softball and basketball and earned seven All-Region nominations between both sports. Wilson also excelled in the classroom as much as she did on the field, graduating salutatorian of her high school class.

Like Wilson, the Colonials also played well last season, earning their first conference championship in program history. But the title was shared with Fordham, which has dominated the Atlantic 10 Conference for nearly a decade. Wilson’s offense could give GW the edge needed to beat Fordham and claim the sole conference title.

Women’s soccer: Isabella Buck

Hailing from Washington state, the 5-foot-3-inch forward was named an All-State Honorable Mention. She also ran track and field throughout high school, showcasing the speed and athleticism that enables her offense on the field.

During her senior season, she was made team captain and was ranked fourth in the state among forward players.

The Colonials made it to the tournament last season but were knocked out by VCU in a close 3–2 match. Powerful offensive additions like Buck will help shore up GW’s endurance and productivity and could be the difference-maker in tight matches.

Buck joins a recruiting class of four other newcomers.

Men’s basketball: Shawn Walker Jr.

Walker was one of the first recruits signed by new men’s basketball head coach Jamion Christian. The two met when Christian, the head coach of Siena at the time, signed Walker before his senior season. Walker decided to follow Christian to GW after he was named head coach in March.

Christian cites Walker’s strong work ethic and elite passing skills as some of the guard’s most attractive strengths. Walker’s breakout senior season validated Christian’s initial signing, when he averaged 21 points per game and led his team to its first conference title in 25 years, earning him the tournament most valuable player.

Walker’s ball-handling skills and offense production will improve team cohesion and productivity for the Colonials. For a program that has been plagued with turbulent seasons and mediocre results, new players like Walker could mean a fresh start.

Volleyball: Sarah Pintel

Pintel joins four new players in the 2019 recruiting class. She spent her time at Cherry Hill High School East in New Jersey accruing several school records, notably setting the single-season record for kills and kills per set in 2018.

Her senior season was the capstone of an impressive high school career, garnering a total of 296 kills that led all of southern New Jersey. In 2018, volleyball carried a .152 attack percentage against its opponents’ percentage of .202. Power-hitters like Pintel are a good step toward closing that gap.

Volleyball struggled last season with a 5–9 conference record and an 11-15 overall record, failing to qualify for the postseason tournament. But the team ended the 2018 season on a three-game win streak. Pintel’s acquisition could fuel the team’s upward trend and sustain the squad’s momentum heading into the new season.

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