By: Jordan Smith | Sports Writer
The Baylor Lady Bears basketball team is already getting ready for the 2017-18 season with the start of the early signing period for incoming recruits on Wednesday.
In the first day of the early signing period, Baylor acquired four commitments for next season: Beaumont guard Alexis Morris, Euless guard Trinity Oliver, Houston guard Didi Richards and Destrehan, La., guard Cara Ursin. With these four early commitments, the Lady Bears’ 2017 recruiting class has been recognized as one of the best in the nation, earning the No. 1 ranking by Prospects Nation for the second-straight season and being called the No. 4 ranked recruiting class by ESPN HoopGurlz.
Lady Bears head coach Kim Mulkey said she enjoys when it signing day comes around every year.
“We are excited about all of the players we have signed. Signing day is always exciting, not only for the athletes, but for the programs also,” Mulkey said. “It is the lifeblood of all programs. This class should help us continue our hunt for another national championship.”
Morris, Legacy Christian Academy, is the nation’s No. 6-ranked point guard and is ranked overall as the No. 18 recruit in the nation according to ESPN HoopGurlz. In her junior year at Legacy Christian Academy, Morris averaged 25.6 points, nine rebounds and 8.4 assists per game. She was one of the key factors that led her team to the TAPPS 3A state tournament final.
“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.”
Oliver, Trinity High School, is the No. 30-ranked guard in her class according to ESPN HoopGurlz. In her junior year, Oliver averaged 25.2 points, 10.8 rebounds, 4.2 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. She also shot 73.2 percent from the free throw line, which helped guide Trinity High School to a district championship and a 28-4 record.
“There is something special about this kid. 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,” Mulkey said. “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.”
Richards, Cypress Ranch High School, is the first player, male or female, in school history to score over 1,000 points in their high school career. According to ESPN HoopGurlz, Richards is ranked as the No. 4 guard and No. 16 player overall in her class. While at Cypress Ranch, Richards averaged 22.4 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game. Richards helped lead the Mustangs to the regional quarterfinal of the 6A state playoffs and a 22-12 record.
Mulkey said she looks forward to the size advantage that Richards will bring to their backcourt next season.
“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.”
Ursin, Destrehan High School, is the No. 12 point guard in her class and No. 64 overall high school recruita according to ESPN HoopGurlz. Ursin averaged 25 points, 12.9 rebounds, 7.3 steals, six assists and 5.5 blocks per game as a junior this past season.
“Cara is the ultimate athlete. She is explosive, powerful and, at 5-feet-7-inches 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,” Mulkey said.
The Lady Bears will look to these recruits to become impact players next season. However, this season is about to start. The Lady Bears hope to start this season off on the right foot as they take on the Houston Baptist University Huskies at 3:30 p.m. Friday at the Ferrell Center.