Southeast Missouri State University women's basketball coach B.J. Smith is excited about the upcoming season, in large part because he believes the Otahkians' recruits -- most of them junior college transfers -- are extremely talented.
But Smith won't have the services of what would have been his most experienced player because he said Friday that Sami Jo Cotton will not return to Southeast due to what Smith termed "personal reasons."
Smith said that Cotton would probably transfer to a Division II or NAIA program in her native Oklahoma to play her senior season.
"Sami Jo had a good year for us and we wish her the best," Smith said.
Cotton, a 5-foot-7 guard, was the Ohio Valley Conference's newcomer of the year during her only season at Southeast after playing two years at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M Junior College.
Cotton averaged 10.5 points per game -- second best for the Otahkians -- and led Southeast in 3-point shooting by hitting 36.8 percent (67 of 182). She ranked fourth in the OVC in both 3-point percentage and 3-pointers made.
The Otahkians went 16-13 overall last season and finished fourth in the OVC at 10-6. They lost in the semifinal of the OVC tournament to champion Austin Peay.
Southeast returns just one player who started more than seven games last season, senior center Chandra Brown, who was third in scoring at 10.3 points per contest and led in rebounding with 6.3 a game.