Nebraska Coach Amy Williams announced on Wednesday, April 15, that three new Huskers will be joining the women’s basketball program for the 2020-21 season. Graduate transfer MiCole Cayton, junior-to-be Bella Cravens and sophomore-to-be Nailah Dillard will join incoming freshmen Ruby Porter, Annika Stewart and Whitney Brown as the newest Huskers on the roster this fall.
Cayton, a 5-9 guard from Stockton, Calif., is expected to earn her bachelor’s degree from California in May. Cayton, who originally signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Nebraska in November of 2015, was an honorable-mention All-Pac-12 Freshman Team selection in 2016-17 at Cal. She appeared in just four games over the next three seasons for the Bears because of knee injuries and is expected to have at least two years of eligibility remaining. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in education at Nebraska.
Cravens, a 6-3 forward from Laie, Hawaii, will be a junior for the Huskers in 2020-21. She earned honorable-mention All-Big Sky accolades as a sophomore at Eastern Washington after averaging 10.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks for the Eagles as a sophomore in 2019-20.
Dillard rounds out the group of incoming Huskers. The 5-9 guard from Sacramento, Calif., appeared in 23 games at Texas Tech as a true freshman in 2019-20. She averaged 3.6 points and 1.7 rebounds in just under 10 minutes per game.
Complete information on the three newest Huskers, including comments from Coach Amy Williams, can be found below.
5-9, Graduate, Guard, Stockton, California (St. Mary’s (Stockton)/California)
Nebraska Coach Amy Williams on MiCole Cayton:
“MiCole has an infectious competitive spirit and drive to be her very best. Her high energy and passion along with her experience as a collegiate athlete make her a great fit for our program.”
MiCole Cayton hopes to put knee injuries behind her after choosing to transfer following her graduation from California. The 5-9 guard from Stockton, Calif., originally signed with the Huskers out of high school as part of a top-15 national recruiting class in November 2015.
In the midst of a coaching change at Nebraska, Cayton chose to stay closer to home at Cal and was an All-Pac-12 Freshman honorable-mention choice in 2016-17. She started 13 games as a freshman, including the last 12 games of the season for the Bears. That stretch of starts began with a career-high 18 points in a win over No. 13 UCLA.
In 34 games as a freshman for the Bears, Cayton averaged 5.6 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.0 steal.
She opened her sophomore season with 13 points in a win over Saint Mary’s, but missed the remainder of the year after suffering a torn ACL. As a redshirt sophomore in 2018-19, Cayton returned to the court in a debut against her hometown school, Pacific, before scoring her only points of the season in a win over San Diego. She played three total games in her third year before undergoing surgery to repair cartilage damage in her right knee.
Cayton missed the entire 2019-20 season with a knee injury.
Cayton was rated as the No. 78 player overall in the nation and the No. 17 guard by ESPN. The WBCA High School All-American averaged 12.0 points and 2.0 steals per game as a senior, while leading St. Mary’s (Stockton) to a 28-1 record and a No. 2 final national ranking in the espnW 25 Power Rankings. She was one of six finalists for Cal-Hi Sports State Player of the Year. She led all scorers with 21 points to power St. Mary’s to a CIF section title over Mater Dei and former UConn star Katie Lou Samuelson. Cayton was a Cal-Hi Sports Elite All-State, All State Division I, Underclass Junior and Underclass Sophomore selection. Cayton was also the Northern California preps Player of the Year. She played club basketball for the California Storm under Coach George Quintero, and she was a member of the Nike Tournament of Champions All-Tournament Team.
The daughter of Michael Cayton and Karen Mercado Cayton, MiCole was born July 31, 1998. She plans to earn her bachelor’s degree in legal studies from California in May, before pursuing a master’s degree in education from Nebraska. She was also on the board of the Black Student-Athletes Committee at California. She loves the outdoors and Cornhusker fans.
6-3, Junior, Forward, Laie, Hawaii (Maryknoll School/Eastern Washington)
Nebraska Coach Amy Williams on Bella Cravens:
“Bella is an excellent athlete who is motivated to become the best player she can. We have a strong need for the things she brings to the table, and we believe her best basketball is still in front of her. We can’t wait to pour into her as a Husker.”
An honorable-mention All-Big Sky selection as a sophomore at Eastern Washington, Bella Cravens joins the Nebraska program for her final two seasons beginning in 2020-21. Cravens, a 6-3 forward from Laie, Hawaii, played in 28 games with 26 starts for the Eagles in 2019-20. She averaged 10.4 points while leading the Big Sky with 8.5 rebounds per game, which ranked No. 92 nationally. Cravens produced six double-doubles on the season, including a career-high 28 points and 10 rebounds in just 20 minutes of action against Northern Arizona (Feb. 22). She hit 10-of-12 field goals against NAU just two days after going 8-for-8 from the field against Sacramento State (Feb. 18). She had 18 points and 15 rebounds against Portland State (Feb. 15) and 20 points, career highs of 16 rebounds and five steals, along with a season-high four blocks against Southern Utah (Feb. 27). During that four-game stretch (Feb. 15-27), Cravens averaged 20.8 points, 12.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.3 blocks and 1.8 steals while hitting 69.6 percent (32-46) of her field goal attempts. For the season, she scored in double figures 14 times, including two 20-point efforts, while grabbing 10 or more rebounds on 10 occasions. Cravens ranked fifth in the Big Sky and 66th nationally with 1.7 blocks per game. She totaled 96 blocks in two seasons at Eastern Washington, which ranked ninth on the school career charts.
Cravens competed in 32 games with 17 starts as a true freshman for EWU in 2018-19. She averaged 3.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in just 15.8 minutes per game. Cravens had a season-high 13 points to go along with 12 rebounds for her first career double-double against Idaho State (March 12). She added a career-high five blocks and a season-best 15 rebounds against Sacramento State (Feb. 28). She finished the season with two games in double-figure points and three with double-digit rebounds. Off the court, Cravens earned a spot on the Big Sky Winter All-Academic Team.
Cravens led the Maryknoll School to four consecutive Interscholastic League of Honolulu (ILH) titles during her tenure. She also led the Spartans to runner-up finishes at the state tournament in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Following her senior season, she claimed first-team all-state, first-team defensive all-state and ILH Player-of-the-Year honors. She was an HHSAA Hall of Honor recipient. Cravens earned four letters in basketball and three in volleyball.
The daughter of Sharlene and Mark Cravens, Isabella was born May 7, 2000. She has five siblings, including older sisters Natallia and Cybil, older brother William, and younger brothers Braxton and Gabriel. Bella plans to major in communication studies at Nebraska.
5-9, Sophomore, Guard, Sacramento, Calif. (Inderkum/Texas Tech)
Nebraska Coach Amy Williams on Nailah Dillard:
“We are very excited to add Nailah to the Husker family. She brings another confident presence from behind the art, and she is also a player that is hungry to expand her game. She takes pride in playing on both ends of the court.”
Nailah Dillard (pronounced NY-EE-luh) comes to Nebraska after spending her first collegiate season at Texas Tech. The 5-9 guard from Sacramento, Calif., averaged 3.6 points and 1.7 rebounds in just under 10 minutes per game for the Lady Raiders.
Dillard appeared in 23 contests while making a pair of starts. She scored a career-high 10 points in a career-high 28 minutes in a win over Oklahoma. Dillard added a pair of steals while knocking down a career-high-tying three threes against the Sooners.
Dillard added nine points in 27 minutes the next time out against Big 12 champion Baylor. She hit a pair of threes against the Lady Bears.
Early in the season, Dillard scored nine points in just nine minutes in a win over Florida A&M. She established her career high with three threes against the Rattlers. She also grabbed a career-high four rebounds and dished out a career-best two assists against FAMU.
Dillard was one of the top players in California at Inderkum High School in Sacramento. She averaged 22 points per game as a senior to earn second-team all-state honors. She competed for West Coast Premier, one of the top travel teams in California, and she led the EYBL in three-point percentage as a junior.
As a junior at Inderkum, she scored a career-high 40 points in a 68-36 win over Woodland (Jan. 10, 2018). Five days earlier, she scored 34 in a win over Yuba City. They were two of 14 games during Dillard’s junior season in which she scored 25 or more points.
She was an honor roll student and graduated magna cum laude from Inderkum.
The daughter of Jason Dillard and Damia Dillard, Nailah was born Nov. 7, 2001. She has a twin sister, Naomi, and a younger sister, Samaya. Nailah is planning to major in political science at Nebraska.
“I chose Nebraska because I wanted to play for coaches who would invest in me and value me as a person on and off the court. I wanted to play for a program that values success, and I am looking forward to playing with teammates and for coaches who love to win as much as I do.”