CHARLOTTE, N.C.- Following their first trip to the NJCAA National Tournament last Spring, the Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers will start the 2019-2020 season ranked #8 in the nation, as released by the NJCAA National Office on Monday.
The Bucs are coming off of a 30-4 campaign from a year ago in which they reached the Sweet 16 of the NJCAA National Tournament. The 30 wins were a program record for FSW, nine of those coming in a perfect Suncoast Conference schedule to earn their second straight league title. After a 4-2 start to the year, the Bucs rolled off 25 straight wins through the middle of their schedule, with their only losses after November coming to eventual National Champions Gulf Coast and #1 ranked Wabash Valley in Lubbock.
FSW returns a number of key contributors from a season ago including a pair of All-Conference performers in Za'Nautica Downs, and Nairimar Vargas-Reyes. Downs had a monster freshman season, averaging 15.4 points per game to earn 1st Team All-Conference honors. She had 10 games of 20 or more points including a 29 point explosion against Gulf Coast in the FCSAA Semifinals. Vargas-Reyes was a 2nd Team All-Conference pick after putting up 8.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game as a rookie for the Bucs. She came into her own late in the season at the National Tournament, posting a pair of 15+ point scoring games. The Bucs also return Simone Lett who averaged just under 11 points and 5 rebounds per game as a freshman and Shekinah Guthrie who played in 33 of 34 games, averaging 4.6 points and 4.7 rebounds a night.
The Bucs are one of four teams from the Sunshine State in the top 25 and one of three in the top 10. Gulf Coast, who the Bucs play twice this season, hold the #1 spot after yet another National Title in 2019. South Plains checks in at #2, Trinity Valley #3, New Mexico #4, and Northwest Florida State #5 to round out the top five.
The Bucs open their 2019-2020 campaign on Friday, November 1st when they take on Central Florida in the FSW Tip Off Classic at Suncoast Credit Union Arena. The Bucs will take the court again the next night when they welcome defending National Champions Gulf Coast State to Fort Myers for a 3:00 matinee tip.