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

Commitments, decommitments, unofficial and official visits, recruiting updates from news sites and other sources, etc. Items listed in reverse chronological order.

Asia Madison, 6-2 F, Hazlehurst HS (MS): picked up an offer from Central Arkansas.


Aja Phoumiphat, 5-6 PG, Centennial HS (Las Vegas, NV): landed an offer from Chicago State.


Jayla Alexander, 5-9 G, Pearl HS (MS): received an offer from Mississippi Valley State; also has offers from Jackson State and Jacksonville State.


Courtney Whitson, 6-0 F, Dobyns-Bennett HS (Kingsport, TN): After decommitting from East Tennessee State, Whitson is considering Middle Tennessee, Samford, and Charleston, among others, the Johnson City Press reports.

College basketball is on Whitson’s radar. She de-committed with East Tennessee State University, and re-opened the recruiting process. Middle Tennessee State University and Samford are among the top options, and on Wednesday she was offered a scholarship by College of Charleston.


Anaia Hoard, 6-0 G, Wesleyan Christian Academy (High Point, NC): Interview with Hoard, originally from France, regarding her recent commitment to Wake Forest. She’ll join her brother, Jaylen Hoard, at Wake; he’s a freshman on the Demon Deacon men’s basketball team.

What went into the decision to attend Wake Forest: “My whole decision to go to Wake Forest was based upon the people over there, because all of the basketball programs I could have went to were good. I just felt I needed to be in an environment that was family-like, and the people at Wake Forest are incredible. I love the coaching staff and I really can’t wait.”


Zia Cooke, 5-9 PG, Toledo Rogers HS (OH): Ranked in the top 10 in the 2019 recruiting class, Cooke announced her commitment to South Carolina. She is the Gamecocks’ first commit for 2019. Louisville was the runner-up.

 “What I’ve been telling everybody is ‘Why not be coached by the best if you want to be the best?’” Cooke said of Staley. “She’s actually played the game, she’s won a national championship, and I just felt like it was home for me. We have a great bond with each other. I know I can go to her about anything, and I already feel like I’ve known her for a while. I just knew it was the best school for me. I had the feeling and I went with my gut.

Cooke’s list of finalists also included Ohio State, Texas, Louisville, Tennessee, and Mississippi State, but two programs stood out most.

“I can’t lie, Louisville and South Carolina were neck and neck,” Cooke said. “It was neck and neck for a long time. I just made my decision. I prayed on it and I had to just go with my gut.”


Alona Blackwell, 5-9 G, Grand Rapids East Kentwood HS (MI): An MLive article provides further information on Blackwell’s recent commitment to Oakland.

Blackwell’s efforts earned her a number of scholarship offers, including Penn State, Minnesota, Dayton and Eastern Michigan. But she went with Oakland for two big reasons. For one, she hit it off great with the Oakland coaching staff. In addition, Oakland is a pretty short drive for her parents to come over and watch her games.

“I made a good relationship with the head coach, Coach (Jeff) Tungate,” Blackwell said. “The school is just the right size. I just feel like it is a good fit for me.”


Sarah Dumitrescu, 6-1 W, IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL): committed to Ole Miss. She had offers from every SEC school except Mississippi State and South Carolina. Planned officials to Illinois and LSU have now been canceled.

“I had basically every SEC school except for Mississippi State and South Carolina,” Dumitrescu said. “I was kind of committed to Tennessee at one time, but they backed off when I broke my hand.”

Dumitrescu broke her hand six months ago but is now fully recovered.

“Ole Miss is a school with a great tradition and the SEC is a great conference. Coach Yo is an amazing coach. (Assistant) Coach Armintie (Price)…I just look up to her so much. She played in the league and she knows the path it takes to get there. Ole Miss needs a re-start, and I feel like I can help with that.”


Kennedy Brown, 6-5 F, Derby HS (KS): committed to Oregon State, over UCLA, Oklahoma, and Oregon. She’s currently #19 in the espnW rankings for 2019.

The bonds that she was able to create with current members of the team also helped relieve any reservations that her parents may have had about Kennedy going to school so far away from their Kansas home. Maddie Washington, Mikayla Pivec, Destiny Slocum and Kat Tudor were all around throughout her visit. One of the reasons she took her four visits was to get a better sense for who she would be playing alongside in her near future. How quickly Kennedy was integrated into the program by the young ladies already there, was something that even her dad took notice of.

“It wasn’t awkward at all and it was something that my Dad even kind of noticed and told me that this was the most comfortable that he had ever seen me around a team. To me, that was the best part of my visit. Just getting to know the girls, hanging out with them away from the coaches, they’re a really fun group and getting to know them more personally. That’s kind of why I wanted to take my officials, is just to really get to know the players to see where I fit with them the best. Heading into each of them, you know the coaches because you get to talk with them all the time, but you don’t get that with the players in a program until you get out there. They were all really genuine and they definitely played a role in my commitment also.”


Tiara Young, 5-9 G, Walker HS (LA): Ranked #26 in the 2019 class per espnW, Young committed to LSU, in her home state.

Young, who transferred from Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport, said she took all five of her allotted official visits, including one to LSU in late September. She whittled her schools down to six finalists in August, with LSU, TCU, Miami, Houston, Texas Tech and Ole Miss making the list.

“Every time I stepped on campus, I just connected,” Young said of LSU. “It was family, even with the players. We just clicked every time I was around them. That was one of the main things I was looking for in a school – family atmosphere – and I found it at LSU.”

. . .

“I wanted to stay and do something for my home state, and that’s kind of what set them apart from everybody else,” Tiarra Young said, saying she built relationships with LSU coach Nikki Fargas and her staff. “When I stepped on campus, it just felt like home. I was very comfortable there.”


Nirel Lougbo, 5-10 PG, Tabor Academy (MA): The Eagle-Tribune provides details on the recent commitment of Lougbo to Marquette, over Butler, UCF, George Washington, and Wake Forest.

“It was really easy,” said Lougbo, who attended North Andover High as a freshman, then repeated her freshman year at Tabor on Cape Cod (Bourne).

“At first, I didn’t believe (the oft-heard philosophy) you get that feeling and know it’s the one. But something hit me: ‘This is where I’m supposed to be.’”


Maaliya Owens, 5-7 SG, Scott County HS (Georgetown, KY): Feature on Owens’s recent commitment to Tennessee Tech.

“In the end it was just about finding the right fit for me,” Owens, a 5-foot-9 senior guard, said. “I felt really comfortable. God gave me peace and showed me where I was supposed to be.”

All five projected starters on this year’s Scott County girls’ basketball team have multiple NCAA Division I scholarship offers. Owens and Juliette Smith are the only seniors in the quintet.

Owens paid official visits to Tennessee Tech, Yale and Division II Lincoln Memorial. Her double-digit total of official offers also included William & Mary, Eastern Kentucky, Murray State, Morehead State, Florida International, Middle Tennessee State, Albany and Fairfield.


Rickea Jackson, 6-2 W, Detroit Edison Academy (MI): An espnW report on the #9-ranked Jackson states that she has narrowed her list to Mississippi State, Rutgers, and South Carolina. No longer in the mix are Louisville, Tennessee, Ohio State, and Texas. It sounds like she may not announce her choice until November 14, the first day of the early signing period.

“Rickea may be the most versatile kid in the country,” said AAU coach Bryce McKey, who worked with her this past summer with Sports City U. “She can shoot the 3 or score from the post, and her length allows her to guard multiple positions, which is going to ease her transition to college.”

Where Jackson ends up at college is still a mystery, but she has narrowed her list to Mississippi State, Rutgers and South Carolina. Schools that were previously under consideration include Louisville, Tennessee, Ohio State and Texas.


Jenna Clark, 5-6 PG, Thomas Jefferson HS (Jefferson Hills, PA): A report on Clark’s recent commitment to Yale, over Dartmouth, Stony Brook, and Boston University.

“For me, the big thing was the coaching staff. I love Coach [Allison] Guth and her whole outlook on life,” Clark said. “Obviously the academics played a big part, but at the same time, the basketball team is just as good. It’s such a big draw. We have a really good chance to win an Ivy League title and make the NCAA tournament.”


Aijha Blackwell, 6-0 W, Whitfield School (St. Louis, MO): committed to Missouri, over Kansas and Louisville. She’s currently #8 in espnW’s rankings for 2019.

“I just felt different about Mizzou, it felt like home,” Blackwell said. “I didn’t want to leave there when I visited.”

Coached by Robin Pingeton, Missouri is coming off a 24-8 season and made its 12th NCAA Tournament appearance last season.

The Tigers lost in the first round to Florida Gulf Coast.

“I can’t wait,” Blackwell said. “Who wouldn’t want to play in the SEC? It’s the biggest, toughest conference out there. I feel like I’m ready for it. I’m ready to compete. I’m ready for this.”


Lilly Hatton, 6-1 F, North Harrison HS (Ramsey, IN): The Louisville Courier Journal reports on Hatton’s recent commitment to Wofford.

Her final three choices were Wofford, Illinois State and the Air Force Academy.

“I really didn’t think I’d consider a school that small,” Hatton said. But her mother, Emily, liked Wofford and asked the North Harrison star to consider the school.

Hatton got plenty of advice from her parents, Emily and Steve, the assistant superintendent at North Harrison Schools. In the end, it was up to her.

“It was my decision,” she said.


Maori Davenport, 6-4 C, Charles Henderson HS (Troy, AL): committed to Rutgers, over Georgia, Louisville, and Mississippi State. Davenport is currently ranked #15 in the 2019 recruiting class by espnW.

Timing is everything. Rutgers is where Zipporah “Zippy” Broughton, Alabama’s Miss Basketball this season who went to Robert E. Lee High in Montgomery, is preparing for her freshman season. In addition, Hoover High guard Joiya Maddox, an AAU teammate of Davenport’s for the past four or five seasons, verbally committed to Rutgers in July.

“That’s going to help me a lot, knowing I won’t be going through this process by myself,” Davenport said.

“When she said Rutgers, we said OK,” Tara Davenport said. “And we knew about the other two girls from Alabama. We know Joiya’s mom real well with her being on the AAU team. Every little thing to give her some comfort.”


Myla Cox, 6-0 W, Petal HS (MS): Feature on Cox’s commitment to Brown in mid-September.

“The atmosphere and the people there really make it feel like a second home to me,” said Cox, who visited Brown’s campus last month. “Just the location, and knowing the school and how great they are – when you go to an Ivy League school, it just makes it that much easier to get a job, and to get the job you actually want.

“I just really liked the coaches and the people, and it seems like a really great place.”


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