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Tuesday, April 26, 2011The Lady Bisons are preparing to welcome a large recruiting class of five new freshmen who will join the program in the fall.
Coming off a 9-21 season, Lipscomb faces the challenge of replacing three seniors from last year’s team. Four-year contributors Miaca Bowman and Valerie Bronson along with Lipscomb’s second all-time NCAA scorer Jenna Bartsokas will not be replaced easily, but head coach Frank Bennett said he was excited about the group of newcomers.
“I think we have a little bit more of an athletic class coming in,” Bennett said. “As far as quickness and speed and jumping ability. We also have some post players that I think will be a little more physical.”
Jana Wright, Kateca Favors, Erika Thornsberry, Shanice Burnette, and Sasha Robinson make up the incoming class of freshmen. The group includes two guards in Wright and Burnette, along with three forwards Favors, Thornsberry and Robinson.
Wright is a 5-7 point guard from Miami, Fla. who played at Norland high school. Wright was selected to the All Dade County first team as a junior.
“Jana is a stronger guard and a pretty athletic guard,” Bennett said. “She is fast with the ball and probably best right now at taking the ball to the basket. She is improving as a three-point shooter. I think that her strength will make her a good fit for playing against Atlantic Sun guards and the physical play.”
Favors is a 5-11 forward from Douglasville, Ga. She is the first basketball player from Alexander High School to ever sign with a Division I University.
“Kateca played on the same AAU team as O’Neisha Smith who will be a sophomore on our current team,” Bennett said. “She is very athletic and can grab the rim with two hands when she jumps. She actually got a tip dunk in a game one time. When the ball came off the back board, she caught it above the rim and pushed it through.”
Thornsberry was a four-year starter at St. Mary’s High School in Ohio. During the 2009-10 season, she was named 1st Team All Western Buckeye League and 1st Team All District Player 2010.
“Erika Thornsberry is about a 6-1 or 6’2 post player,” Bennett said. “She is a versatile post player who plays well inside and out. She is not afraid to bang down in the low post and she can also shoot the three point shot. She is a good passer and can run the floor well.”
Burnette is the lone Tennessean on this year’s class. She played at Franklin County High School in Winchester, Tenn. Burnette is a 5-10 guard who will add depth at the shooting guard position.
“Shanice is a very skilled offensive player,” Bennett said. “In high school she could play anywhere from the one to four positions. She is able to shoot from outside and she can also put it on the floor. I think her versatility will really be a benefit, and she has the quickness to guard people as well.”
Robinson is the final signee the Lady Bisons acquired for the upcoming season. She is a 6-1 post player from St. Francis High School near Marietta, Ga.
“Sasha was our only pickup in the April signing period,” Bennett said. “She has a great basketball build. She can run the floor and has some strength to bang in the low post. We are looking forward to her opportunity to develop as a good post player.”
Overall, next year’s squad will consist of five freshmen, four sophomores, three juniors, and three seniors. The Lady Bisons will need contributions from everyone next season as they seek to make up for the losses of Bowman, Bronson and Bartsokas who accounted for 37 percent of last year’s scoring.
Bowman and Bartsokas provided much of the guard play for the last four seasons. Bennett said he thought finding guards to step up and fill that void would be crucial to next year’s success.
“We think Haley Nelson (sophomore) and Jana Wright can provide the point play,” Bennett said. “We will have a big drop in experience, but we feel like they will be able to meet the challenge and do the job.”
Since the 2007-08 season, 34 out of the 51 players who have made up Lipscomb’s active roster have been from the state of Tennessee (66 percent). However, this year’s class is comprised of two players from Georgia, one Florida native, one Ohio native, and only one Tennessean.
“Recruiting is never an exact science,” Bennett said. “This year it just turned out that there were more out of state than usual.”
With players like junior guard Morgan Faulkner and senior forward Leah McAlister coming back from injuries that forced them to miss games last season, Bennett hopes next year’s team will be deep with talent.
“We will have a little more depth next year with these five and the returning players,” Bennett said. “There will be competition in practice that should help us. I think they will be a great addition to our program.”