The Western Kentucky women’s basketball team will have limited opportunities to recruit in the 2014 class, and the coaching staff has put much of its focus on LaRue County junior Ivy Brown.
Brown, a 6-foot-2-inch guard, is averaging 22.2 points and 8.2 rebounds a game for the Lady Hawks (10-3).
“I kind of feel like I’m an all-around player,” Brown said Jan. 3 after LaRue County’s 63-27 home win over Bardstown. “I can shoot, and if I have to, I can post up. I’d rather shoot the ball, but I can play in the post.”
Brown had 22 points, 13 rebounds, four steals, two blocks and two assists against Bardstown. The next night, she totaled 25 points and 14 rebounds in a district win over Green County, and she had 19 points Monday against John Hardin.
Brown averaged 19.4 points and 9.6 rebounds last season as a sophomore.
On the AAU circuit, she plays almost strictly as a shooting guard, she said. Kentucky Premier AAU coach David Tapley said Brown sometimes brings the ball up the court for his squad.
Brown has about 25-foot range from behind the arc, Tapley said.
“She can do a little bit of everything,” LaRue County coach Travis Wootton said. “She can shoot the 3, she can post it up, she handles it pretty well and defensively, she’s already our all-time steals leader.”
Brown plays the top of the Lady Hawks’ press, where she’s able to create deflections and steals.
“She just creates havoc at the top of that,” Wootton said. “You’ve got to have a couple of really good ballhandlers to work around it at the top. She makes it tough on people.”
There are about 15 teams heavily recruiting Brown, Wootton said.
Brown’s leaders right now are WKU, Middle Tennessee, Butler, Belmont and Lipscomb, she said. Wootton said Dayton is also involved.
“I’m just trying to keep an open mind so far,” Brown said.
Tapley has been told by WKU coaches that Brown is one of their top priorities, he said.
Brown exchanges texts from time to time with WKU freshman guard Micah Jones, who faced Brown in several district matchups during her time at Green County.
Brown also chats on Twitter with WKU coach Michelle Clark-Heard, she said, and talks on the phone with Heard every two or three weeks. She hasn’t made a visit yet to the school.
“I really like her so far,” Brown said. “I haven’t been able to see her in coaching action, but she’s really nice off the court. I like her a lot.”
WKU has one available scholarship after the transfer of sophomore guard Danay Fothergill. The Lady Toppers have no seniors this season.
Their other in-state 2014 targets include Ballard forward Javonna Layfield and Glasgow center Shalika Smith. Layfield is averaging 14.8 points, 9.1 rebounds, 4.3 steals and two assists per game for the Lady Bruins. The 6-1 Smith is averaging 13.1 points and 8.4 rebounds and is shooting 62 percent from the floor for Glasgow. She’s being recruited by Morehead State, Southeast Missouri State, Troy and Georgetown College, coach Justin Stinson said, and WKU showed interest for the first time last week.
WKU is also after 2014 recruit Gabrielle Bowie, a 5-8 guard from Lady Bird Johnson High School in San Antonio. She’s averaging 11.2 points and shooting 42 percent from 3-point range.
In the 2015 class, the Lady Toppers are recruiting Allen County-Scottsville sophomore guard Morgan Rich (21.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 4.8 spg, 2.7 apg) and Meade County sophomore forward Morgan Turner (17.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.1 bpg).
Rich lists WKU, Kentucky, Louisville, Marquette and Wake Forest among her recruiters, and Turner has had the most interest from Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Wake Forest, Marquette, Dayton, Indiana and Lipscomb, Meade County coach Josh Hurt said.
Glasgow freshman Breanna Turner has interest from WKU in the 2016 class, but the forward’s stock is rising fast.
She’s averaging 12.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, 4.4 blocks and four assists and is hearing the most from Kentucky, Dayton, Arkansas, Marquette, Stanford, Florida, WKU, Wake Forest, Morehead State, Middle Tennessee and Eastern Illinois, Stinson said.
Of the four signees in WKU’s recruiting class for next season, Heard has talked the most about Bloom Township (Ill.) center Bria Gaines’ potential to contribute right away.
As of late December, the 6-2 Gaines was averaging 23.4 points, 16.8 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game for Bloom.
Paul Laurence Dunbar’s Kierra Muhammad, a 5-4 guard, reached 1,000 points for her career Jan. 3 and averages 7.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.5 steals.
Aleeya Harris, a 6-1 forward from John Jay High School in San Antonio, is averaging 7.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, two assists and 1.6 blocks per game.
Ruta Savickaite, a 6-4 center from Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tenn., is averaging 9.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks.
Where are they now?
Several players have transferred from the WKU program in the last few seasons, and most have landed with new programs.
Junior guard Ellen Sholtes has played in 11 games for Campbellsville University this season and averages 1.8 points per game. Senior guard Courtney Clifton, who played her freshman year at WKU, leads the Lady Tigers at 16.4 ppg.
Junior forward Mimi Hill has made five starts for North Georgia and averages 6.2 points and 4.9 rebounds, while sophomore forward Tyisha Amos has logged three scattered appearances for Central Arkansas.
Sophomore forward Summer Fife is sitting out this season after transferring to Sam Houston State.
Senior guard Lashay Davis, who quit the team at WKU at the same time as Clifton, has started six games and averaged 7.6 points for Tennessee Tech. Senior guard Janae Howard is averaging 11.8 points at St. Catharine College.
Former WKU star Arnika Brown has averaged 9.1 points and 8.8 rebounds during her second season playing professionally for DSK Karlin in Prague, Czech Republic.
Forward Keshia Mosley, who graduated from WKU last year, is averaging 14.6 points and 6.9 rebounds in her first season in Lousada, Portugal.