The senior wing is taking advantage of an extra year of eligibility to give Gonzaga much needed leadership and versatility on the wing.
Super senior wing Abby O’Connor took the NCAA up on the free year of eligibility granted to student-athletes in light of the COVID impact last season. O’Connor, who was expected to redshirt last season after transferring from Loyola Chicago, was able to play immediately after her waiver application was approved (similar to the Andrew Nembhard waiver approval) shortly before the start of the season.
A three-year starter at Loyola Chicago, O’Connor had a wealth of experience to offer last season and quickly worked her way into Lisa Fortier’s rotation as a tough and versatile option off the bench.
O’Connor played in 25 games with one start, averaging 13.3 mpg along with 2.7 ppg and 1.8 rpg. O’Connor provided some nice shooting from long distance as well with a 39.1% conversion rate. After fulfilling the role asked of her last season, expect O’Connor’s contributions to grow significantly as she’ll be leaned on to fill the void left by Jillian Townsend.
The Indiana native is certainly capable of picking up some of Townsend’s production lost on the wing, as she averaged 12.5 ppg with 7 rpg as a junior at Loyola Chicago. She is also one of only two Ramblers in the history of their program to notch 1000 points, 500 rebounds, and 100 blocks, while earning several all-conference honors in the MVC throughout her career.
However, last season, she deferred a lot of her offense to others while playing more of a utility role at both ends of the floor. She will need to play with a little more selfishness on offense and be willing to take the opportunities available to her while also serving as one of the team’s leaders.
With the major changes happening throughout the roster, O’Connor will be a vital piece of the puzzle for Fortier and she will be one of the more exciting players to watch in what should be another strong season for Gonzaga.