Junior transfer builds momentum for women’s basketball team


Off the court, Barnes is studying kinesiology at St. Edward’s University.

Caitlin Laughlin

At such a crucial time in basketball season, the women’s team is receiving notoriety for standout transfer player Shakera Barnes.

The junior point guard is known by her friends and family as “Woo,” receiving this nickname at a young age from her great grandmother due to her whistle making a “woo” sound.

Barnes is new to St. Edward’s University, having attended and played basketball at Blinn College for two years. While the transition was not necessarily difficult, it did pose challenges.

“Junior college and university are two completely different levels academically and sports wise,” Barnes said. “I knew coming into the season that much more would be expected from me by coaches and even teammates.”

While Blinn was a good start for Barnes, she always intended to leave and move to a university she loved. St. Edward’s seems to be proving a good fit as her experience has been more than just about basketball.

“It’s about relationships, preparing for your future, and bettering yourself, spiritually, as a person on and off the court,” Barnes said.

While the Hilltoppers are off to a rough start this season with an overall record of 5-10, having fallen short on many close games, Barnes is a team leader looking to take things day by day.

“It is all about progressing and becoming a better version of us. Going into practice every day and focusing on the next milestone,” Barnes said.

Barnes stepped into a leadership role on the team and has already been named the Heartland Conference Player of the Week in early January. She is third in both minutes played and assists per game, averaging 14.1 points per game, according to SEU Athletics.

St. Edward’s Head Coach J.J. Riehl attributes these successes to Barnes’ loyalty and spirit.

“She is one of the most grounded and convicted young women I’ve coached and I believe that it is because of her faith and spirituality that she’s so successful,” Riehl said.

Off-season preparation was also a substantial factor in this transfer student’s success. Team fitness included pool workouts, morning exercises on the soccer field and running the track.

“Those workouts were a major part of me being in shape and being able to play almost 40 minutes a game,” explained Barnes.

As pointguard, Barnes sets the pace for the team as the lead scorer and in assists for the Hilltoppers.

Riehl also notes, “She really paces everything we do, but I think more than that is her spirit. She is extremely athletic, has one of the quickest first steps around and is just very difficult to defend going to the rim.”

Because Barnes is the pace setter for the team, she will be a key player in helping the team reach their goal of winning the Heartland Conference championship.

Barnes says that going into the second half of the season, the Hilltoppers need to focus on steady playing and thinking about each next milestone.

“Consistency will definitely be the key to further this season and becoming successful later in conference,” Barnes said.

After the team’s recent win against rival St. Mary’s University on Jan. 16, Barnes hopes the team’s momentum will continue, leading the Hilltoppers to improve their 3-4 conference record and reach the conference finals for the fourth consecutive year.