The most recent junior college player to pop into the picture is Aya Traore, a 6-foot-2 sophomore forward from Dixie State College of Utah.
Originally from Senegal, Traore moved to Kentucky and played for Louisville Moore, earning a spot on the Kentucky Senior All-Star team. Her senior year, Aya averaged 18.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per contest, hitting 48% of field goals and 56% of free throws.
Traore ended up at Dixie State College after high school, where she made an immediate impact. Playing on the wing, she led Dixie State in assists with a 3.3 average, but also led the team in turnovers with a 4.5 per game turnover average. Second on the team in scoring (12.3) and third in rebounding (5.2), Traore was named to the SWAC All-Conference team as a freshman.
Dixie State was beginning to put together a formidable team when Aya arrived during the 2001-2002 season. Loaded with athletes, the Lady Rebels won a school record 27 games and played in the first Regional final game in school history. The high powered offense would score 90 points or more that year 12 times, and recorded a 144 point game in a winning effort.
After taking the summer to play for the African Junior National Team, Traore returned to Dixie State as a preseason all-JUCO candidate in 2002-2003. Currently 23-5 and ranked eighth nationally, the Lady Rebels are fighting to regain control of the SWAC. On Thursday, North Idaho College knocked Dixie State out of first place following a 63-58 loss. Traore scored 26 points in that game, seven shy of her season high.
Traore has continued to refine her game, increasing her scoring average to 28.5 through 28 games this season. No longer leading the team in assists, she ranks second on the team while still turning the ball over at a 4.8 per game rate. Turnovers continue to be a point of weakness, while her ability to force turnovers is among the best in her conference. She is shooting 231-of-419 (.551) from the field, 26-76 (.342) from the permieter, and 100-137 (.730).
Traore would be eligible to join the Boilermakers for the 2003-04 season, assuming she can achieve core requirements by the end of the summer.