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Gardner opens recruiting with four prep stars

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Gardner opens recruiting with four prep stars

FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas opened the early signing period by shooting 100% with four high school standouts, women’s basketball coach Susie Gardner announced today at her weekly press conference. The Lady Razorbacks signed in-state guard Kendra Roberts from Fort Smith Northside and one of the top players from each of three neighboring states: TaNisha Smith of Kansas City, Mo.; Charity Ford of Arlington, Texas; and Ashley Wilson of Byhalia, Miss. “We are thrilled to get off to such a great start on the 2006 recruiting class,” Gardner said. “Each player we signed without question brings the kind of skills we need to compete among the leaders in the SEC.” Arkansas issued four National Letters of Intent from the women’s basketball team during the early signing period which began today, and Gardner and her staff brought home all four offers. “They fit into our philosophy, and I think this is a recruiting class that will have an impact on the program,” Gardner said. “I think this is a great start, but we’re not finished with this class. We plan to add a couple more players in the spring signing period.” Roberts was the best known to local fans of the Lady Razorbacks. The 5-8 guard averaged 16 ppg, 6 rpg and 9 apg as a junior for Fort Smith Southside High School. For her senior season, Roberts has transferred to Fort Smith Northside, and will play for the Lady Bears’ Coach Rickey Smith. As a sophomore, she turned in 12 ppg and 6 rpg. Her freshman season she averaged 18 ppg to earn district MVP honors at Trinity Junior High. Playing for Arkansas Kamakazi in AAU season, she helped lead her under-16 team to the state title in 2004 and a national runner-up spot. “I have seen Kendra evolve during my time here, and the more I watched her play the more I liked her game,” Gardner said. “It has always been her dream to be a Razorback, and you want to have those kinds of players a part of your program. No one works harder on the court, and that passion for the game is a big part of what makes her a great player.” Smith may be the most heralded player on the national scene in the first four of the 2006 class. The 6-2 forward-post averaged 18 ppg, 10 rpg, 2 apg, and 3 spg for Coach Jeff Atkins at Lincoln Prep Academy as a junior, leading the Tigers to a 26-4 record and the Missouri Class AAAA title game. In AAU basketball this past summer, Smith averaged 18 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.5 apg and 2.0 spg to lead Kansas City Keys to the AAU Under-16 Final Four in Orlando. “She is a basketball player,” Gardner said emphatically. “That’s the best way to describe TaNisha. She can play inside. She can play outside. She can shoot the three. She’s rumored to dunk. At the start of July, not a lot of people knew about her, but by the end of the summer, everyone knew about her. TaNisha clicked with our staff and our team from the beginning.” Ranked by TexasHoops as the state’s No. 13 college prospect, Ford helped lead Juan Seguin to a 29-7 record as a junior, sweeping the district title with a perfect 14-0 record before advancing into the Texas state regional quarterfinals. Averaging 18 ppg, 4.5 apg, and 2.3 spg for the Lady Cougars, she racked up 596 points as one half of the Lone Star state’s best backcourt tandem. “The thing that most impressed me about Charity when I saw her play in AAU basketball was how hard she was playing defense,” Gardner said. “A lot of times, you don’t see players getting after it on defense in the summer. She comes from a high school program that exceptional, and she is accustomed to having success in basketball.” One of the top prospects from the state of Mississippi, Wilson did not participate in high school basketball last season while she was living in Ohio. The 6-3 swing post player currently attends Byhalia High School in Byhalia, Miss. The Indians’ leading scorer as a sophomore, Wilson is currently starting at point. “She missed summer ball and last season, but this is a player that Coach (Johnnie) Harris did an exceptional job in finding for our program,” Gardner said. “She has inside-outside skills. Most people look at her size and think she’s a post, but she can shoot the three and she has the ability to play guard. She gives us a unique player on offense and defense.” Arkansas has six senior players this year on the 2005-06 roster of 14 players. The Lady Razorbacks conclude the preseason with an exhibition game against Missouri Southern State on Friday, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m.



Sports Category : Basketball (W)