Denai Bowman — Binghamton, Sr., G
Bowman is one of the truest two-way talents in the conference. She has been named a first-team all-conference and all-defensive team selection in the past two AE campaigns. Last season, Bowman spearheaded the BU offense with a team-leading 14.6 points and 3.7 assists per game, good for second and fourth in the conference, respectively, while putting up 1.9 steals per game at the other end of the floor. The 5-foot-9-inch guard started the 2021-22 season hot, putting up 27 points in the season opener against Canisius and posting a double-double six days later against Eastern Michigan. Bowman is expected to be a key contributor once again this season as the Bearcats look to rebound from last season’s first-round exit from the AE Tournament.
Helene Haegerstrand — UAlbany, Sr., F
Albany, the reigning AE champions, is led by senior Haegerstrand. The forward played high school basketball in her hometown of Danderyd, Sweden, and competed in the 2019 FIBA European Championship, entering the realm of NCAA Division I ball as an already seasoned competitor. Since becoming a Great Dane, she has been nearly unstoppable. Haegerstrand was named to the AE all-rookie team in her freshman season, lead the team in points per game (10.4) in her sophomore season and was an AE first-team all-conference pick in her junior season. Haegerstrand’s senior year will also be her third season as a captain of the Great Danes. She is a front-runner to win the AE player of the year award on a team that is the preseason favorite to win this season’s AE title.
Kayla Cooper — UAlbany, Jr., G
Junior guard Cooper is coming off of a breakout season — the UAlbany guard averaged 11.2 points per game and 7.2 rebounds per game. She also shot an incredible .482 from the floor, which was up from the .353 clip that she shot during her freshman year. Cooper was seemingly unstoppable around the 2021-22 mid-season mark — she put up 25 points on Dec. 28 against Union, 21 points on Jan. 15 against NJIT and 22 points on Jan. 17 against Hartford. This stellar play earned the Great Dane a spot on the All-Conference Second Team. While she’s known as an offensive juggernaut, Cooper’s defensive prowess cannot be underestimated — she had 41 steals along with 10 blocks while ranking fourth in the league with 153 defensive rebounds. This level of play contributed greatly toward the Great Danes only allowing 49.6 points per game, which ranked first in the conference. The junior looks to repeat last year’s success on both ends of the floor.
Anna Olson — Vermont, Jr., F
This season, there will be high expectations for the former AE Rookie of the Year Anna Olson. In her sophomore campaign, the junior forward was one-half of a deadly duo with fellow Catamount, guard Emma Utterback. Olson connected on a team-high 53.4 percent of shot attempts and scored 10+ points a staggering 24 times. One of the highlights of her season was the AE quarterfinal matchup against Binghamton on March 5, where she posted a career-high of 22 points against the Bearcats, with nine field goals made, leading her team to the next round. She had the same consistency during her freshman year, where her 13.3 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game led the Catamounts. She is expected to be greatly featured on a Vermont team that will likely compete with UAlbany and Maine for the top spot in the conference.
Anne Simon — Maine, Sr., G
Anne Simon, the former captain of the Luxembourg National Team, enters her fourth and final season with Maine. The senior guard has been elite during her college basketball years — she was named the AE Rookie of the Year in 2020 and is the reigning Player and Defensive Player of the Year. Many other awards have been earned by Simon over her career as she’s averaged 14.0 points per game and accumulated 1,000 total points. The forward was simply unstoppable last season, averaging 16.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game for the Black Bears. Simon also led her team to a 17-3 finish during the season, topping the AE regular season. The superstar will look to recreate last year’s success and win her first conference championship.
Emma Utterback — Vermont, Sr., G
The conference’s fourth-ranked scorer (13.5 points per game) and second-ranked passer (3.6 assists per game) is back for her senior season at Vermont. The 5-foot-8-inch guard Emma Utterback is an offensive weapon, posting five games of 20+ points last season. She also led the 13-5 Catamounts with 44 steals and 109 rebounds. Despite being on such a talented roster, Utterback draws huge attention from opposing defenses. This season, she looks to earn her first all-conference selection and lead Vermont to a second-straight winning season, which would be the school’s first time doing so since the 2008-9 and 2009-10 seasons.