COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The Maryland women’s basketball team will welcome the No. 4 freshman class in the country next season, head coach Brenda Frese announced Wednesday.
Shakira Austin (Fredericksburg, Va.), Taylor Mikesell (Massillon, Ohio) and Olivia Owens (Niskayuna, N.Y.) make up the fourth-ranked incoming freshman classes in the country, as ranked by ESPN. This is the 12th top 10 recruiting class signed by Frese in her 16 years under Maryland. Twice, Frese brought in the No. 2 recruiting class, back in 2007 and 2010 and she signed the nation’s top recruiting class in 2016.
All three of the newest Terrapins are ranked in ESPN's Top 35. Austin, a 6-5 forward, is ranked No. 3 overall in the class. Mikesell, a 5-9 guard, is ranked No. 32 overall and Owens, a 6-5 post, is ranked No. 33 overall by ESPN.
"I can't thank our staff enough for all of their hard work and efforts in another stellar recruiting class in 2018,” Frese said. “We addressed all of our needs that we wanted to fill. This is a class that will come in and contribute right away. We are excited about not only signing terrific players but adding three special families to our Maryland family."
Shakira Austin ∙ 6-5 ∙ Forward
Hometown: Fredericksburg, Va.
High School: Riverdale Baptist (Mike Bozeman)
AAU Team: Boo Williams EYBL (Boo Williams)
About Austin: Named the No. 3 overall player and No. 2 forward by ESPN ...played junior and sophomore years at Colonial Forge High School... averaged 18.0 points and 12.3 rebounds per game last season and blocked 88 shots…led Colonial Forge team to Class 6A state title as a junior…named The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star Player of the Year in her junior season…played freshman year at James Monroe High School.
Brenda Frese on Austin: "Shakira is a long, athletic forward that will be extremely successful in our transition game. She is versatile, can rebound and is a tremendous shot blocker. Shakira will impact the game on both ends of the floor."
Shakira Austin on Maryland: “Maryland is very family-oriented. They are one of the top programs in the country with the best coaching staff that will help me achieve my dreams and also make sure my education is also a top priority. The location is perfect for my family to come support me and I can’t see myself being more comfortable anywhere else.”
HS Coach Mike Bozeman: "What else can you say about a 6-5 player that can guard like a point guard, outrun wing players, dominate in the post and shoot 17-foot jump shots? Shakira is an even better person. Coach Frese doesn't miss on attracting top talent and she's got a gem in Shakira."
AAU Coach Boo Williams: "Shakira will be a big asset to Maryland. Her skill set as a basketball player has improved tremendously and she will make a huge impact for the Terps."
Boo Williams and Riverdale Baptist Assistant Coach Shawn Wright: "The Terps are getting one of the most versatile players in the country in Shakira Austin on both sides of the ball. Go Terps!"
Taylor Mikesell ∙ 5-9 ∙ Guard
Hometown: Massillion, Ohio
High School: Jackson High School (Anthony Butch)
AAU Team: Sports City U (Bryce McKey)
About Mikesell: Named the No. 32 overall player and No. 9 point guard by ESPN… averaged 22.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 3.2 steals for Jackson last season, becoming the school’s career scoring leader…shot 89 percent from the foul line…will enter senior year with 1,405 points…earned Associated Press Division I All-Ohio honors in sophomore and junior seasons…also named District Player of the Year as a junior in 2017…represented the USA in the FIBA U17 World Championship in 2016..team took bronze in Spain.
Brenda Frese on Mikesell: "Taylor is a knock down shooter that has played at the highest level. She has international experience having played with USA basketball. Taylor is a winner and will be ready to contribute immediately. We are excited about her future."
Taylor Mikesell on Maryland: “I chose Maryland because I wanted to play for a team that had a chance to win multiple national championships. I love the campus and the way Coach B and the rest of the coaching staff run their program.”
HS Coach Anthony Butch: "Taylor is an absolutely incredible basketball player. In my 20 years being around the game, I have never seen anyone shoot the ball like her. Her competitive drive, work ethic and willingness to be coached, sets her apart from other great high school players. I can't wait to watch her continue her career at Maryland. She's a special, special player!"
AAU Coach Bryce McKey: "Taylor is an extreme competitor and ultimate teammate. She constantly works at her game. While she is known as one of the elite three-point shooters in the country, Taylor also possesses the ability to make those around her better with her passing and play making talents. Taylor is a terrific young person from an incredible family who will excel in Maryland's culture and style of play."
Olivia Owens ∙ 6-4 ∙ Post
Hometown: Niskayuna, N.Y.
High School: Niskayuna High School (Sarah Neely)
AAU Team: Albany City Rocks (Keith Danzy)
About Owens: Ranked No. 33 overall player and No. 5 Post by ESPN… averaged 20.6 points and 12.3 rebounds as a junior…named MVP of her Niskayuna team last year…scored 42 points in a game last season, which set a conference record for boys and girls.
Brenda Frese on Owens: "Olivia is a physical, lost post player that will welcome the contact inside. She has a huge ceiling that we can't wait to help her break through. Olivia has all of the intangibles that will allow her to be very successful."
Olivia Owens on Maryland: “I chose Maryland because the coaching staff immediately made me feel like family. I wanted to play for Coach B because she has a character like no other coach I’ve met. I value a lot of the things she values and I agree with how she gets things done. In addition to awesome athletics, I am a student-first athlete. Because of the many majors the University provides as well as the location, I am open to many opportunities, great internships, and jobs after college. I get the best of both worlds and I cannot wait.”
HS Coach Sarah Neely: “On behalf of the Niskayuna girls basketball program, I would like to congratulate Olivia on all of her accomplishments. She has worked hard for many years and set her goals high. Olivia is a talented basketball player. It has been exciting watching her throughout the years in our Niskayuna basketball program, and we are certainly looking forward to watching her play for the University of Maryland. Olivia, we wish you the best of luck in your collegiate career.”
AAU Coach Keith Danzy: "Olivia is a great student-athlete who has always accepted the challenge to get better. She has shown great growth over the course of the past few years and to be among an elite group of basketball players at the highest level of women's Division I basketball. While this will be her greatest challenge of her career, it will prove to be her greatest moment, where she will become a special part of the history for the Maryland Terrapins Women's Basketball program."