COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The Maryland Women's Basketball program welcomes five outstanding student-athletes to its program for the 2010-2011 season. Whitney Bays (Huntington HS, Huntington, W.Va.), Natasha Cloud (Cardinal O'Hara HS, Broomall, Pa.), Alicia Devaughn (Blanche Ely HS, West Palm Beach, Fla.), Laurin Mincy (University HS, Newark, N.J.), and Alyssa Thomas (Central Dauphin HS, Harrisburg, Pa.) rank as the No. 2 Recruiting Class in the Nation.
"This 2010 class was a few years in the making", said Head Coach Brenda Frese, "and it is an interesting story in multiple ways. I really want to give credit to our staff for how hard they worked, especially our recruiting coordinator, Tina Langley. Almost two years ago, I started to get a very good feel for the kids in this class. I liked them so much that I was willing to take a chance and back off some 2009 prospects we were involved with. There were no guarantees at the time I made that decision, but fortunately it worked out. I just really liked these kids not only as players, but as people and their families as well. They just seemed like a better fit and they bring a lot of positive qualities to our program."
Bays, Cloud, Devaughn, Mincy and Thomas, all rank in the top 10 nationally at their positions and were the first five players the Terps identified as 2010 targets. "That simply doesn't happen in recruiting, but somehow it did this time," said Frese. "We feel incredibly fortunate that it all worked out and we can't wait to coach them."
"They definitely bring some serious firepower and will allow us to be a very dynamic offensive team that will be a lot of fun to watch. They're all unselfish, team-first and terrific passers. They each compete hard and are winners. All five are tremendously athletic and versatile enough to play multiple positions and have an impact on both ends of the court. And one thing that I was really looking for--all five come from winning, championship-level programs and they're going to bring that mentality to Maryland," said Frese. "That's one of those intangibles that really matters."
"When combined with the good young players that are already in our program, I like where we're heading in the future," added Frese. "I'm not only excited for our program, but also for our terrific fans who in the past have really grown attached to our players. This is that same kind of group and it is going to be wonderful to watch."
Hometown: Huntington, West Virginia
High School: Huntington HS / Coach Lonnie Lucas
AAU Team: West Virginia Thunder / Coach Larry Lambert
Highlights: West Virginia Player of the Year 2009; West Virginia 1st Team All State 2007, 2008, 2009; MSAC Player of the Year 2009; Gatorade Player of the Year 2008, 2009; Led Huntington High to State Finals Averaging 24.4 points, 11.1 rebounds in 2009; Rated the #2 Forward in the Nation
Also considered: FSU, Auburn, Duke, Louisville, Georgia
Coach B on Bays: "Whitney is a terrific basketball player. She can play multiple positions and do damage in many ways. Her points come from all over the floor--she can shoot it, make moves around the basket and she can attack off the dribble. She is a terrific rebounder and catches seemingly everything she gets her hands on. She blocks shots and gets steals. Her passion and emotion on the court remind me a lot of Marissa Coleman, which is really exciting.
"She's played for incredibly successful high school and AAU programs. In high school, she led Huntington High to three straight state championship games; she's had games of 30-plus points and 20-plus rebounds. She simply dominates the competition. And what's really exciting is that she has a desire to keep working on her game and keep improving, which we'll be more than happy to help her accomplish.
"Everything Whitney does, she does well, including her schoolwork. Everyone who knows her has had terrific things to say. She's very well-known in West Virginia and her AAU coach, who has seen all the great recent players in West Virginia, really has high praise for her and puts her right there at the top with the rest. She's going to be a lot of fun to coach and I think our fans are going to love her passion."
Coach Lucas on Bays: "Whitney is the best I've ever coached. She's worked real hard. I think she will transition well into college without any difficulty. She should come into it strong. She is not afraid of competition. She made her choice to come to Maryland because of the talent they have. She wants to win a National Championship."
Bays on Maryland: "The comfort level was there from the beginning. When I visited Maryland, it seemed like I just bonded with the other girls, with the staff, with everyone associated with the program. As happy as I was to be there, it seemed like they all were just as excited as me, and they really wanted me to join the team. My family also played a big part in my decision. They were excited and supported me throughout the process. They loved Maryland as much as I did. I am just really excited and can't wait to get there."
Hometown: Broomall, Pennsylvania
High School: Cardinal O'Hara HS / Linus McGinty
AAU Team: Philadelphia Comets / Matthew Githens
Highlights: Michael Menichini Award 2009; 3rd Team All State; 1st Team All Delco 2009; 1st Team All Catholic 2009; 2nd Team All Catholic 2008; Led Team to 17-3 Finish and a National Ranking of #10 in 2009; Career Averages include 11 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals; Rated the #8 Shooting Guard in the Nation
Also considered: St. Joe's, Rutgers, Virginia, Miami, Ohio State, Vanderbilt, & Kentucky
Coach B on Cloud: "The second player in the class to verbal to us, Natasha is another very athletic and unselfish player who will do whatever her team needs to help them win. She's a defensive stopper who loves guarding the opponent's best player. She can play either guard spot and is a terrific passer. She can make tough catches and finishes. She's going to give us more size on the perimeter and, in situations, a 6-foot point guard that will be a problem for opponents to match-up against. She really has a chance to develop into a terrific player both offensively and defensively.
"Natasha has a ton of personality, is a lot of fun, a good student and is going to fit right in with our group. She's another player who will contribute in multiple categories and help us win. She can zip passes all over the court and get the ball up the floor quickly. She's going to be a lot of fun for our fans to watch."
Coach McGinty on Cloud: "Tasha is the most unselfish, great player we've had at O'Hare. She'd rather pass the ball to you than score herself. She's just a great kid to have on your team. Natasha always played the other teams' best player regardless of their position. Basically, she guarded every type of player, from a small point guard to a 6-2 post player. She's just a kid that wants to win. No ego as far as stats."Cloud on Maryland: "I chose Maryland because of it's a beautiful campus, a great educational program, and an awesome athletic family that allows you to feel at home on day one."
Hometown: West Palm Beach, Florida
High School: Blanche Ely HS / Coach Tommie Butts
AAU Team: Orlando Comets Red / Coach Jack Givens
Highlights: Florida 1st Team All State 2008 & 2009; Voted to Florida Fab Five Team 2008 & 2009; Florida State Championship 2008; Lead team to 2009 State Regional Semifinals averaging 19 points, 16 rebounds, & 10 blocks per game; Rated the #5 Center in the Nation
Also considered: Texas, Oklahoma, Purdue, Louisville, Georgia, Duke, UCONN
Coach B on Devaughn: "Alicia has only begun to scratch the surface of how good she can be and I really believe we're going to help her get the rest of the way. She's a double-double machine. She averaged 18 rebounds a game last year in high school. She can score both around the basket and by stepping out to shoot it from a variety of spots. She finds open teammates well with passes and as I watched her more and more, I learned that one secret quality she has is that she can really handle the ball well for a 6-4 player.
"She led her high school team to a Florida state championship, which is no easy task. I think she flew a little under the recruiting radar, because she didn't always play for one of the big travel teams and because she missed some time with injuries. When we saw her, she was blocking shots, snatching rebounds and scoring all over the floor, leaving no doubt in our minds that she's one of the very best bigs in this class.
"For our Maryland fans, Alicia might remind you a little bit of Laura Harper, except I think Alicia might be a little further along in her development at this point than Harp. She's sweet kid, who I think our fans and her teammates are really going to like."
Coach Butts on Devaughn: "Alicia is a player with great upside with size, knowledge, and ability to handle the ball. She provides perimeter scoring and an inside presence on defense. She can also defend on the perimeter with great footwork. She is hardworking and diligent with a great attitude on and off the court. Maryland is getting a fine ball player with terrific qualities and a desire to improve every time she touches the floor for practice."
Devaughn on Maryland: "Everyone treated me so nice. Coach (Frese) is just so nice, so down-to-earth. They made me and my dad feel comfortable. Deep down I knew where I really wanted to go. I connected with the Terps when I was a freshman. I'm really anxious to get there and start my career. I plan on majoring in Psychology, and I just want to do whatever I can to help the program."
Hometown: Newark, New Jersey
High School: University HS / Coach Felicia Oliver
Highlights: Star Ledger State Player of the Year 2009, 2008; NJ State Gatorade Player of the Year 2009; All-State 2009, 2008, 2007; Essex County Player of the Year 2007; Tournament of Champions MVP 2007... Two time NJSIAA State Group I Championship MVP 2008, 2007; Member of National Honor Society at University HS and has a 3.2 GPA; Rated the #1 Shooting Guard in the Nation
Also considered: Georgia, South Carolina, Rutgers, Miami, UNC, UCONN
Coach B on Mincy: "Two-time New Jersey State Player of the Year and as the first freshman to make All-State, Laurin can flat out score and does it very much within the framework of the team. Her points can come from all over the floor--going to the basket, mid-range pull-ups and shooting the three. She can excel in either a half-court or transition game.
"At over 6-feet tall, she's the biggest, most athletic shooting guard we've ever had in our program. She'll be a defensive presence as well with her ability to block shots and get steals. Her high school coach, Felicia Oliver, will tell you that from the day she arrived at University High School, she was one of those special players who elevated everyone around her and helped them win their first state title. She's also a terrific student and a member of the National Honor Society.
"Laurin has a warm giving personality that fits wonderfully with our team. She has a passion for basketball and life that is infectious. Our team and fans will enjoy watching her on the court and getting to know her as a person."
Coach Oliver on Mincy: "When I think about coaching Laurin Mincy, the one word that comes to mind is `priceless.' Laurin is a true student of the game. She will thrive in the environment at Maryland and the Comcast Center. I believe she will make a strong impact not only in the basketball world but also in the College Park community. The moment she puts on that Terrapin uniform and laces up those shoes, people will understand what it means to truly make a difference."
Mincy on Maryland: "I thought Maryland's style of play fit my style of play. The coaching staff was very welcoming, as well as the team. The coaches gave me a good feeling. It was the manner in which Coach Frese recruited me that made the difference. It wasn't all about basketball. She was always concerned about my family, and that was important to me. She would ask about my Mom and my Dad...Coach really focuses on other things besides basketball. That impressed me."
Hometown: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
High School: Central Dauphin HS / Coach Bill Wolf
AAU: Mid-Penn Motion / Coach Tina K. Thomas
Highlights: Mid-Penn Conference Player of the Year and First Team All Conference 2007-2008 and 2008-2009; P.I.A.A. All District 3 and 1st Team All State 2008-2008 and 2008-2009; Led the 2009 Commonwealth Division Champions and P.I.A.A. District 3 Champions (AAAA) with 19.5 points per game and 12.8 rebounds per game; Rated the #4 Wing/Forward in the Nation.
Also considered: Notre Dame, Penn State
Coach B on Thomas: "Alyssa committed to us a year ago on the weekend of Maryland Madness. From the very first time I saw her in a lay-up line, I knew she had `it'. She can legitimately play positions 1-4 and has done so for both her high school and AAU teams. As for what she does on the court, she's probably the closest thing I've ever seen to a female LeBron James. By that I mean her combination of size, strength, speed, vision, versatility, IQ, instincts and the ability to contribute in every single statistical category is really rare.
"This past summer, I didn't see a better player in the country. She is a terrific decision maker on the court and makes her teammates better. She is a big-time competitor who has a level of toughness that our fans are going to love. She's a terrific passer and a monster on the boards. To give you an idea of how many different things she can do, her high school team sometimes calls her `Magic', as in Magic Johnson.
"Like Magic, she's got a great smile and in addition to that, she's humble, she's a good student, great sense of humor and she's really family-oriented. As a sophomore, she led her Central Dauphin High School team to a state title in Pennsylvania's largest classification, which is very hard to do. There's not a doubt in my mind that Alyssa's going to make a major impact on our program."
Coach Wolf on Thomas: "Alyssa has made an excellent choice with her decision to attend the University of Maryland. She will have the opportunity to play basketball in one of the top programs in the country, and for Coach Frese and her staff who stress the importance of team and have created a `family-like' atmosphere for their players. Family and team are important to Alyssa, and she is looking forward to being part of the University of Maryland basketball family. Alyssa is multi-talented player who could play any one of 5 different positions for us and still be the best player on the court. She has both an inside and outside game, and is outstanding in the open court. She compares favorably to an `athletic Magic Johnson' and is a relentless rebounder. To her credit, however, Alyssa's greatest strength is that she makes those teammates who play with her, better."
Alyssa on why she chose Maryland: "I chose Maryland because I felt the most at home. The players and coaches are very much a family and I thought this would be the best fit for me academically and athletically."