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‘Elevated skillsets’: 5 transfers complete Weber State women’s basketball roster for 2024-25

Wildcats add three Division I transfers, one from D2 and one JUCO player

By BRETT HEIN - Standard-Examiner | Jun 4, 2024
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This combo photo shows Weber State women's basketball's 2024 transfer signees, from left and clockwise: BYU forward Rose Bubakar (24), Fort Lewis guard Lanae Billy (32), USU-Eastern wing Japrix Weaver (20), Boise State guard Kaitlin Burgess (11) and UNCG forward Antoniette Emma-Nnopu (2).
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Utah State-Eastern's Japrix Weaver (20) shoots a 3-pointer over Laramie County's Kelly Megown (4) in a game Nov. 17, 2023, in Price.
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UNC Greensboro forward Antoniette Emma-Nnopu (2) battles for a loose ball with Wofford's Indiya Clarke (20) during the SoCon tournament March 8, 2024, in Asheville, N.C.
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Boise State guard Kaitlin Burgess (11) handles the ball in a game Nov. 3, 2023, in Boise, Idaho.
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BYU's Rose Bubakar (24) shoots over Weber State's Ashton Adamson (4) in a game Nov. 10, 2023, in Provo.
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In this November 2023 photo, Fort Lewis guard Lanae Billy (32) drives against Lincoln University in Durango, Colo.

OGDEN -- Jenteal Jackson's efforts to shape Weber State women's basketball into a contender have taken greater focus over the last six weeks as WSU has signed five transfers to complete the roster for the 2024-25 season.

The last addition came Monday when WSU finalized the signing of UNC Greensboro forward Antoniette Emma-Nnopu. Emma-Nnopu, a junior, is one of three Division-I transfers to sign, joining BYU senior forward Rose Bubakar and Boise State senior guard Kaitlin Burgess.

Former highly heralded junior college player and sophomore Japrix Weaver is the lone JUCO signing, and Division II junior scoring guard Lanae Billy has also joined the Wildcats.

"The way we're going to play will suit the players we have," Jackson said. "We've definitely added a lot of shooting and, I feel like, just elevated skillsets in general. ... There's a lot of things we're looking forward to implementing that will help us win more games."

The five transfers join five previously signed freshmen as 10 newcomers for Weber State, a program looking to start winning ballgames. In Big Sky play, the Wildcats went 15-81 (.156) over five seasons under Velaida Harris. In Jackson's first season, inheriting 10 returning players, WSU went 4-14 (.222) in league play.

Jackson feels the program is lightyears ahead of where things stood last summer.

"We're excited. We've got a lot more kids that we've recruited, and have just had more time to recruit. Being able to grow and evolve in that way, we'll continue to do that as time goes on," she said. "We have a nice list of 2026 kids now and just thinking about where we are now versus a year ago, even just preparation-wise in recruiting, it's exciting."

Women's teams can roster 15 scholarship players. With the group of 10 newcomers are five returners: senior guards Rita Satini, Kendra Parra and Kennedy Eskelson, sophomore forward Taylor Smith, and redshirt freshman guard Amanda Edwards.

"I think they'll come in pretty hungry. Our returners, there's not a whole lot of them," Jackson said. "In a sense, it's pretty wide-open ... we're definitely a staff that stays open through the process to see who proves themselves and who's going to be the best fit."

Weaver and Burgess join Satini, Eskelson, and freshmen Fui Niumetolu and Mata Peaua, as six players who played high school basketball in Utah.

Below is more about each transfer to sign with Weber State, in alphabetical order.


5-foot-7 junior • Fort Lewis College

Billy's scoring might be familiar to Weber State fans.

In WSU's 2023-24 home exhibition against Division II Fort Lewis, a 77-62 victory, it was Billy filling up the bucket for a game-high 24 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the 3-point line. That came one night after Billy hit a pair of 3s and scored 16 points in a win at Utah State.

The Navajo Nation native from Shiprock, New Mexico, was named a first-team All-RMAC player as a sophomore, averaging 3.2 steals per game. She averaged 16 points per game in both her seasons at Fort Lewis while shooting 36.2% from the 3-point line.

"She was definitely the sole focus of the defense every single game -- a three-level scorer, really crafty with the ball, does a really good job of waiting for defenses and ... making them pay," Jackson said. "Deep range from 3, just a great threat. Excited to have her."


6-foot senior • BYU

The Maryland native played 84 games at BYU, with 22 starts, before entering the transfer portal for her final season.

As a sophomore in the West Coast Conference, Bubakar averaged 6.7 points and 3.0 rebounds per game in a mostly reserve role, shooting 44.6% overall and 33.3% from 3, before seeing her contributions drop as BYU entered the Big 12.

"Rose is just really explosive, I think she'll see a lot of success at the Big Sky level," Jackson said. "She can score, she can shoot outside a bit, and she's a great defender. She's primarily going to play a 4 or a 5 for us but she's quick enough to guard 2 through 5 if needed ... she'll be ready to elevate our level of play."


5-foot-8 senior • Boise State

A native of New Zealand, Burgess played her senior year of high school in Utah at Riverton, where she averaged 14.1 points per game.

She played two seasons at the College of Southern Idaho. In seven games of an injury-shortened second season, Burgess averaged 14.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists while shooting 16 of 32 from the 3-point line.

Burgess signed at Boise State, where she spent three years, seeing a handful of minutes across two seasons of playing time.

"I watched her a bunch when she was in junior college, liked her game then, still like it," Jackson said. "I just don't think she got as much opportunity as she has the potential to get here ... shoots it extremely well off the bounce, she has a variety to her game, another player where teams are going to have to get out and guard us."


5-foot-11 junior • UNC Greensboro

After two years in a contributing bench role, Emma-Nnopu transferred to WSU's benefit, hitting it off early with Jackson through a mutual connection and choosing the Wildcats over handfuls of offers. The efficient Australian forward has two seasons left to play.

"Honestly a little lucky," Jackson said. "I think our system and style of play fit the type of player she is."

In 12 minutes per game over 62 games for UNCG, Emma-Nnopu averaged 4.2 points and 4.7 rebounds per game, shot 56.5% from the field, averaged less than one turnover per game and increased her free-throw percentage to 74% as a sophomore.

Offensive and defensive rating numbers can be somewhat incomplete, but Emma-Nnopu's are staggering. The number tries to pin down the number of points scored or produced on offense per 100 possessions; defensive rating estimates the number of points opponents score per 100 possessions with that player on the floor.

Anything above 110 on offense and below 100 on defense is pretty good. Emma-Nnopu's offensive rating over two seasons was 118.9 and her defensive rating was 83.3.

"Explosive, great first step, dynamic defensively and she's just smart, really savvy," Jackson said. "Her footwork is great, she moves well, takes advantage of defensive matchups, holds her ground and finishes at a really high percentage ... really happy we signed her."


6-foot sophomore • Utah State-Eastern

An unconventional sophomore, the 6-foot shooting guard was an honorable mention junior college All-American at Utah's Snow College in the 2020-21 season (which does not count against eligibility), served a mission in Hawaii for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and played the 2023-24 season at Utah State-Eastern.

The Cedar City native averaged 13.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, shooting 36.1% from 3, at Snow College before a knee injury at the end of the season.

"Japrix is an unbelievable person and one of the best players I've coached in my coaching career, male or female," said Mike Russell, former Snow College head coach and current West Field High athletic director. "She'll be a great addition to Jenteal's program and will help the culture in a variety of ways. She's a leader, a very hard worker, a great student, and her character is above reproach."

Weaver averaged 10 points per game on 35.1% shooting from 3 at USU-Eastern in her first season of healthy basketball in several years.

"She can really shoot it, she can attack, usually has a size advantage on her defender, and she's a hard-worker, disciplined kid who's going to get better and do whatever you ask of her," Jackson said. "She has that maturity, and different experiences to bring to this group and help mesh everything together."


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