2019 Class: Recruiting News/Updates, April–December 2018

Dajahnae Brannon, 6-1 W, Harrisburg HS (PA): committed to Rider.

Brannon told PennLive she has committed to Rider.

She also had an offer from Western Carolina.

“I liked the environment,” Brannon said. “It was a pretty nice school, and a pretty good fit for me.”


Olivia Brown, 5-8 G, East Grand Rapids HS (MI): Coverage of Brown’s recent commitment to St. Bonaventure.

Q: Why did you choose St. Bonaventure University?

A)  “I felt like it was the right choice for me,” said Brown, who also received offers from Western Michigan, Hillsdale and Wayne State. “I like the school. It is pretty small school, around 2,000 undergrads. I thought it was really special to have that Division I experience and great academics at such a small school.

“Also, basketball-wise, I met the coaches and players and I felt like I fit in instantly. I can see myself growing as a player and reaching my potential, which I think is really exciting.”


Aniya Walker, 6-2 W, Ambridge HS (PA): Article on Walker’s recent commitment to St. Francis (Pa.).

Walker said she chose Saint Francis over Lafayette and Columbia. Duquesne and Youngstown State were among the other schools that offered.


Ajulu Thatha, 6-1 F/C, Decatur Central HS (Indianapolis, IN): Feature on Thatha, who is originally from Ethiopia and recently committed to SIUE.

Six years later, Thatha is a 17-year-old senior at Decatur Central High School and has committed to play in college at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Hers is an unlikely journey that started in Gambella, Ethiopia, and has taken her along a path that twists like the Baro River, where she used to splash and play back home. Basketball has given her an opportunity that felt out of reach as a 12-year-old learning English in a foreign place. The opportunity to go to college manifested because of Thatha’s perseverance, and it was her courage that allowed her to seize it.


Lanetta Williams, 6-4 F, and Lanyce Williams (6-2 F), Arlington HS (TN): Article on the twins’ recent commitment to Memphis. Lanetta is ranked #36 in the 2019 class by espnW. They picked the Tigers over Georgia and Ole Miss.

On Thursday, the Arlington stars announced their commitment to Memphis, choosing the Lady Tigers over Ole Miss and Georgia. In front of about 30 friends and family at the high school, the Williams sisters read prepared statements before popping balloons filled with Memphis blue confetti. They shed their Arlington windbreakers to reveal Tiger T-shirts and put on Memphis headgear.

“All schools had great things about them,” Lanyce said. “But we realized we’ll be gone from our family for the vast majority of the year and we would miss out on things we wouldn’t miss out on if we were here in Memphis.”


Jordan Olivares, 5-8 PG, Seaside HS (CA): committed to Sacramento State, following an official visit to the school over the weekend.

Olivares, the Herald’s Basketball Player of the Year last season, emerged over the summer on her OJBA travel team, putting up big numbers while college coaches watched.

After a pair of 20-plus point games in a tournament in San Diego, the 17-year-old received a text from Sacramento State assistant basketball coach Bill Baxter.

“He said ‘I like how you play and we are interested in you,’” Olivares said. The coach went on to ask her if she would be interested in coming up for an official visit.

Before the summer started, Olivares had written down three schools that she hoped would be interested in her. Sacramento State was one of them.

“All the offers I had received were out of state,” Olivares said. “I was open to a visit. But my heart was in California. The minute I set foot on the campus, I could see myself going there.”


Kenna Squier, 5-10 PG, Pope John HS (Sparta, NJ): committed to NJIT “about a month ago.”

After already accomplishing so many things before her final year of high school, Squier can now call herself a Division-I player after verbally committing to New Jersey Institute of Technology about a month ago.

After suffering a disappointing 4-26 season in 2017-18, NJIT hired Mike Lane as the university’s 12th head coach. The freshness of the entirely new coaching staff really endeared Squier to the school. Playing Division-I basketball was something she envisioned once she began high school.

“The location was a big factor, but the main factor is that it is a new program that they are building with a new coaching staff,” Squier said. “It was really something I wanted to be a part of. In my freshman year, I was working out with some coaches and one of them approached me and asked me if I ever thought about playing Division-I basketball because he saw that potential in me. From then on, I saw something that I would really love to do. I knew it would be hard to get there, so I’m very happy.”


Kierstan Bell, 6-1 G, Canton McKinley HS (OH): Article on Bell’s recent commitment to Ohio State (over Rutgers).

The two-time Ms. Basketball winner had offers from dozens of schools across the nation and seriously considered Rutgers before verbally committing to Ohio State on Saturday.

“(Rutgers head coach) Vivian Stringer, I love her to death,” said Bell, the No. 1 ranked guard in the United States and fifth-ranked prospect in Class of 2019, according to ESPN. “It was a hard decision, but I was just going with my heart. I was born and raised in Ohio. It’s two hours away, so my family and friends can come see me. I didn’t want to be too far from home, so it’s a great fit.”


Makenna Marisa, 5-11 SG, Peters Township HS (PA): Recruiting update on Marisa, who picked up offers from Baylor and Washington in August.

Since then, Marisa has seen her recruitment pick up quite a bit. She said she has more than two dozen offers, the latest coming Tuesday from Big 12 power Baylor. Marisa said Penn State, Villanova, Duquesne, Pitt, Michigan and West Virginia are a few of the schools that stick out. Marisa plans on taking some visits in September and hopes to make a decision by early October.

“I have a list of schools and I’m not rushing the process,” Marisa said. “I’m very fortunate so many school are recruiting me.”


Katie Dettwiller, 6-4 F/C, Portsmouth Notre Dame HS (OH): Article on Dettwiller’s recent commitment to St. Francis (Pa.).

When asked why she chose Saint Francis to continue her athletic career, Dettwiller said in an interview with the Times, “The Catholic faith was evident in the athletic program and the academic aspect of the University, along with the women’s basketball program being very successful in recent years. I look forward to being part of its future success.”


Victoria Toomey, 6-1 C, Dunmore HS (PA): Article on Toomey’s recent commitment to Rider.

Fairleigh Dickinson and Mount Saint Mary’s were in the mix, and despite having some other visits scheduled, Toomey knew when she made a return visit that Rider was the right choice.

“I kind of fell in love with the school and the coaches,” Toomey said. “The thing was, I had some visits scheduled, so I was kind of nervous about committing. But that was the second time I visited.

“After the first visit, I was getting in the car and I said, ‘Mom, I love it.’ ”



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