Nov. 10, 2011
LOS ANGELES -- As the LMU women's basketball team gets set to tip off the 2011-12 season on Friday, there is also excitement in the air about next year as head coach Julie Wilhoit announced Thursday the signing of five players who will don a Lions' uniform beginning in 2012-13.
Chelsea Barnes, Deanna Johnson, Brianna Kennedy, Amanda Moore and Sophie Taylor (shown left to right above) all signed national letters of intent to continue their education and basketball careers at LMU. The class has already garnered national recognition, earning a No. 19 rank in the Hoopgurlz.com Mid Major Top 20 Recruiting Classes for 2012.
"This class really brings a multidimensional look to our program," said Wilhoit. "It's easy to see on paper how talented they are athletically, but they also bring a serious academic focus. What's neat about this class is that they already identify together as a class, not as individuals. They know each other, have played against each other, went to camps together and now they are coming to LMU together."
Barnes, a 5-10 guard/forward combo, hails from Covina, Calif., and Diamond Ranch High School. She averaged 20 points and seven rebounds per game as a junior, leading the Panthers to the Division 3AA CIF Southern Section semifinals. Following that standout season, she was named All-CIF, All-San Gabriel Valley Tribune and Cal-Hi Sports All-State. Barnes also plays for the West Coast Premier club team.
"Chelsea is a phenomenal athlete with incredible quickness and leaping ability," Wilhoit said. "She can lock down players defensively and is known as a defensive stopper. She also has an explosive offensive game and is a big threat by getting to the basket and getting to the line."
Johnson is a 5-10 guard who averaged 13 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and two steals per game last season at Norco High School. She led the Cougars to the Division 2AA CIF Southern Section quarterfinals, while also earning first team All-Big VIII, all-county and All-CIF. Ranked by Hoopgurlz.com as the No. 50 point guard of the 2012 recruiting class, Johnson also plays for the Cal Swish Club team.
"Dee is a very athletic and versatile guard who can play both the point guard and off guard positions" said Wilhoit. "She has smooth handles, a sweet pull up jumper and can hit the three. She will be a great addition to our backcourt."
The 6-foot-3 Kennedy hails from Bonita High School and the West Coast Premier Club team. Ranked the No. 59 forward by Hoopgurlz.com, Kennedy averaged eight points, seven rebounds and three blocks per game as a junior, leading Bonita HS to the Division 3A Southern Section title game and the CIF Division III State quarterfinals. A 4.0 student, Kennedy earned both All-Hacienda League and all-academic team honors and plans to major in pre-med at LMU.
"Brie brings us tremendous size and strength," said Wilhoit. "She was a highly recruited center because of her athletic ability and potential to become a dominating force. She has a very good mid-range shot, is a very aggressive rebounder and will be a force inside."
Moore hails from Seymour High School in Seymour, Ind., where she averaged 20 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and two steals per game as a junior. The 5-10 guard, the 137th-ranked guard among by Hoopgurlz.com, was named All-State by the Hoosier Basketball Magazine, played for the Indiana Junior All Stars as well as the Indiana's Finest and Spice Gym Rats club teams.
"Amanda is a prolific three-point shooter who also has a complete all around offensive game," said Wilhoit. "She is a great catch-and-shoot player who can also pull up off the dribble and get to the hole when needed. She is a smart player who understands and executes the game, and the most exciting piece is how her defensive game is coming together."
Rounding out the quartet is Taylor, a 6-foot-2 wing out of Acalanes High School. Ranked by Hoopgurlz.com as the No. 119 forward of the 2012 recruiting class, Taylor led the Dons to the Division III North Coast Section championship game and the first round of the CIF Division III State Championship as a junior. She averaged 11 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and two steals per game on her way to earning All-Diablo Foothill League honors. Taylor is also a member of the Cal Stars club team.
"Sophie is a tremendous athlete with length on the wing," Wilhoit said. "She has a very good offensive mind and can hit the three, but her true strength is on the defensive end. She is tenacious on the ball and can force a lot of turnovers with her length. It will be fun to coach a six-foot-two wing player.
"As excited as they are individually to be coming to LMU, they are equally excited as being a class together," Wilhoit said of the entire 2012 class. "LMU women's basketball has captured in these young women what LMU women's basketball is all about. I congratulate my team and my staff who worked hard in signing such a well-respected class."
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