- It was going to be tough to follow up the signing class Baylor women’s basketball landed in 2016 – one that seemed to be a unanimous pick as the best in all of college basketball.Somehow, coach Kim Mulkey and her staff managed to do it. From BearsExtra where WacoTrib’s Tony Adame has more on this story.
The Lady Bears signed four players on – all guards and all Top 50 recruits -- to its 2017 class, which was ranked No. 1 by Prospects Nation and No. 4 by ESPN HoopGurlz on Wednesday.
Baylor signed 5-foot-6 Alexis Morris, 5-7 guard Cara Ursin, 5-9 guard Trinity Oliver and 6-1 guard DiDi Richards. Morris, Oliver and Richards are from Texas and Ursin is from Louisiana.
“We don’t get caught up in how each player is ranked,” Mulkey said. “We evaluate what we need by position and their talent and how they’ll fit in this program. I can say we’re as happy with this class as any class we’ve signed.
“We’re always going to recruit our state and we feel like we’re connected nationally, and we felt like these four players reflect that. Recruiting is the lifeblood of all programs, and we lose four outstanding seniors after this year so we needed to keep reloading.”
- The Baylor Lady Bear basketball program signed four players to National Letters of Intent (NLI), 17th-year head coach Kim Mulkey announced Wednesday. From Baylor Bears dot com.
Four guards, Alexis Morris, Trinity Oliver, Didi Richards and Cara Ursin, chose Baylor in the early signing period, which began today.
Baylor's 2017 recruiting class is recognized as one of the best in the nation, earning the No. 1 ranking by Prospects Nation for the second-straight season and a No. 4 rating by ESPN HoopGurlz.
"We are excited about all of the players we have signed," Mulkey said. "Signing day is always exciting, not only for the athletes but for the programs also. It is the lifeblood of all programs. This class should help us continue our hunt for another national championship."
Alexis Morris, a 5-6 guard from Legacy Christian Academy in Beaumont, Texas, is the nation's No. 6 ranked point guard and the No. 18 ranked player overall according to ESPN HoopGurlz. As a junior, Morris averaged 25.6 points, nine rebounds and 8.4 assists per game, leading her team to the TAPPS 3A state tournament final. The five-star recruit notched four 40-point performances and nine 30-point games that year alone.
A three-year letterwinner, Morris has earned three-straight Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools 3A Player of the Year accolades (2014, 2015, 2016). She was also a 2016 USA Today All-Texas second team honoree and named to the 2016 Naismith Trophy Watch List. In her career, Morris has amassed 2,650 points, 852 rebounds, 545 assists, 599 steals and 191 blocked shots. She owns a single-game-high scoring effort of 53 points. Morris is also a three-year volleyball letterwinner and most valuable player at Legacy Christian Academy and advanced to regionals as a member of the track and field team.
Morris, who plays summer basketball with DFW Elite T-Jack, was a member of the 2015 USA Basketball U16 National Team, which won a bronze medal after posting a 4-1 record at the 2015 FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Puebla, Mexico.
Morris selected Baylor over Georgia, Penn State, Ohio State and UCLA. She is ranked No. 2 at guard and No. 5 overall by Prospects Nation, No. 6 at guard and No. 18 overall by Girls Basketball Report and No. 5 overall by All Star Girls Report.
"Alexis is a point guard that has an excellent basketball IQ, scorer's mentality and confident floor game that could be an extension of the coach," Mulkey said. "We feel Alexis is one of the elite guards in this class. She will have a major impact on our program."
Trinity Oliver, a 5-9 guard from Trinity High School in Euless, Texas, is the No. 30 ranked guard according to ESPN HoopGurlz. She also checks in as the No. 29 guard and No. 111 player overall by Girls Basketball Report. She chose Baylor over Kansas State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.
As a junior, Oliver averaged 25.2 points, 10.8 rebounds, 4.2 steals and 1.3 blocks per game and shot 73.2 percent from the free throw line to guide Trinity High School to a district championship and 28-4 record. She collected several honors for her efforts on the court, including 2016 Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Player of the Year, 2016 Star-Telegram Super Team Player of the Year, District 7-6A Most Valuable Player, TGCA All-State and District 7-6A first-team. The three-star recruit also earned District 7-6A Defensive Player of the Year, District 7-6A first-team, and TGCA All-State distinction as a sophomore and District 6-5A Newcomer of the Year and All-District first-team recognition as a freshman.
Oliver, who plays summer basketball for Texas Adidas Elite, enters her senior campaign with 1,695 career points.
"There is something special about this kid," Mulkey said. "The first time I saw her, I knew she had the skill and knowledge to play at our level. She comes from a high school program that is so respected with legendary coach Sue Cannon. Trinity got my attention with her defense on the perimeter and toughness that you are born with. She has a college made body that will be a huge mismatch problem for smaller guards. We are excited about her."
Deauzya `Didi' Richards, a 6-1 guard from Cypress Ranch High School in Houston, Texas, is the No. 4 ranked guard and No. 16 player overall in her class according to ESPN HoopGurlz. As a junior, Richards averaged 22.4 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game, leading the Mustangs to the regional quarterfinal of the 6A state playoffs and a 22-12 record. With one season remaining, Richards is the first player, male or female, in Cypress Ranch High School history to score over 1,000 points.
The three-year basketball letterwinner and all-time leading scorer at Cypress Ranch High School is a two-time All-District first-team honoree (2015, 2016). Richards was named to the Naismith Trophy Watch List in 2016 and recently earned 2017 All USA Preseason Girls Basketball Team recognition. She has also been recognized as a McDonald's Invitational Most Valuable Player (2016), Newcomer of the Year (2014) and Nike National Champion (2013).
Richards, a five-star recruit, chose the Lady Bears over Texas, Tennessee, Kansas, South Carolina and Michigan. She is rated No. 2 at her position and No. 7 overall by Prospects Nation, as well as No. 5 at her position and No. 16 overall by Girls Basketball Report.
Richards plays summer basketball for Cy-Fair Nike Elite.
"Didi is a 6-1 shooting guard that is very athletic and will bring size to our back court," Mulkey said. "She can shoot the three, get to the rim and has a smooth mid-range game. She can handle the ball and attacks well in transition. Didi has a lot of intangibles that will fit well with our system. She is one of the best guards in the country."
Cara Ursin, a 5-7 point guard from Destrehan High School in Destrehan, Louisiana, is the No. 12 ranked point guard in the class and No. 64 player overall according to ESPN HoopGurlz. The four-star recruit averaged 25 points, 12.9 rebounds, 7.3 steals, six assists and 5.5 blocks per game as a junior to collect her second consecutive Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year honor (2015, 2016). She posted 19 double-doubles, four triple-doubles and one unprecedented quadruple double (24 points, 12 assists, 12 steals, 10 rebounds).
Ursin is a three-time District 7-5A Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year, a two-time 5A All-State first-team selection and New Orleans Advocate's Metro Team. She earned Louisiana Miss Basketball recognition in 2016 as well. Ursin has guided Destrehan High School to a 92-8 record in three seasons, which included state title game, semifinal and quarterfinal appearances.
Ursin chose the Lady Bears over South Carolina, Tulane and Alabama. She checks in at No. 14 among point guards in the class and No. 66 overall by Girls Basketball Report, as well as No. 74 by All Star Girls Report.
"Cara is the ultimate athlete," Mulkey said. "She is explosive, powerful and at 5-7 has the ability to jump and run. That is very rare. She has a strong body, but yet she's quick. She brings something different to the table with how she plays in traffic, anticipates defensively and attacks off the dribble. We got a diamond in the rough."
The No. 2/4 Lady Bears make their regular season debut on Friday, Nov. 11 against Houston Baptist. Tipoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. (CT) inside the Ferrell Center. It is a doubleheader with the Baylor men's basketball team, which begins its regular season against Oral Roberts at 6 p.m.
Baylor Women’s Basketball Cruises to Victory in Final Exhibition Game
- Kim Mulkey has long anticipated how good Baylor could be this season. From the Sioux City Journal.
The coach who has two national titles with the second-ranked Lady Bears was already talking about the 2017 NCAA Final Four two seasons ago.
"I must say she's a smart woman," preseason All-America forward Nina Davis said with a smile.
Mulkey was enamored with what three sophomore starters, including All-Big 12 player of the year Davis, were already doing then. The coach also knew former Duke transfer Alexis Jones and two McDonald's All-America post players would make their Baylor debuts last season, and two more prep All-Americans would join them this year.
That is the group on the court now, and it will get tested early.
"You are excited, but what's taking over right now is not the excitement. It's the energy it takes to get them all on the same page," said Mulkey, going into her 17th season at Baylor. "I don't care how talented they are. We've got to all be on the same page and we've got to all be clicking at some point."
After the season opener Friday against Houston Baptist, the Lady Bears have consecutive games against No. 9 UCLA and at No. 3 Connecticut. Follow the Sioux City Journal link to read more of this story.