#1 e yards and two touchdowns, and fifth-ranked Sta von anda0012 29.06.2019 15:02

Evina Westbrook wanted so much to not like Tennessee.The 6-foot guard from South Salem, Oregon, had heard a gazillion times how the Lady Vols already had three Oregonians on their roster and how she could -- yippee! -- be the fourth to come to Knoxville in short order.Problem was, thats not what Westbrook wanted at all.That really turned me off, said Westbrook, the No. 2 player in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100 for the 2017 class. I never wanted to go to a school where other girls in my state had been.But thats exactly what happened. Westbrook fell in love with Tennessee -- more on that later -- and became a part of the Lady Vols family when she signed a national letter of intent last week.Three of Tennessees five starters are Oregonians: senior guard Jordan Reynolds of Portlands Central Catholic; junior wing Jaime Nared of Portlands Westview and junior center Mercedes Russell of Springfield.But Westbrook wont play with Reynolds, whose eligibility expires after this season. And shell get only one season with Nared and Russell.Indeed, Westbrooks career figures to be much more tied to three women not from the Beaver State -- her fellow 2017 recruits at Tennessee.Its a spectacular group: 5-7 point guard Anastasia Hayes of Riverdale (Murfreesboro, Tennessee); 6-2 wing Rennia Davis of Ribault (Jacksonville, Florida); and 6-4 center Kasiyahna Kushkituah of St. Francis (Alpharetta, Georgia).Hayes is ranked ninth in the nation, Davis No. 12 and Kushkituah No. 55. Davis was the last commit, making that decision on Tuesday, signing on Wednesday and announcing on Sunday to give the Volunteers class a Fab Four feel. Not to mention the No. 1 class in the country.Coach Holly Warlick, who has spent more than three decades on the Tennessee campus, first as an All-American point guard, then as a long-time assistant coach to the late Pat Summitt and now in her fifth season running the program, is delighted. Her struggles on the recruiting trail a year ago, after all, were well documented. The top 2016 prospect in the state even dared to defect to Connecticut.But as good as these Tennessee recruits are, Warlick is just as pleased at how she envisions their talents meshing.Fifteen years ago, Warlick said, we had the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation, but it didnt work because we didnt have the right combination.The Volunteers think they have the right combo now.Hayes leads offThe Tennessee kid, Hayes was the first player in the class to commit, deciding on Sept. 25, the last day of her campus visit. Tennessee had hosted and beaten the Florida Gators in that weekends football game, and Hayes and her family were there at Neyland Stadium, standing on the sidelines and singing Rocky Top with 100,000 or so like-minded individuals.As she looked above her and saw a sea of orange, Hayes turned to her sisters and said, I love it here. I think this is where I need to be.Her sisters agreed.Later, Hayes told her dad what she was thinking. Annie, he said. I love it here, too.That was all Hayes needed. She gave the good news to Warlick, and then Hayes did something else noteworthy: She started texting Westbrook, Davis and Kushkituah -- girls she knew from the AAU circuit and Team USA trials -- encouraging them to come to Knoxville, too.Think of it as her first assist.Kids want to see who they will be playing with, Warlick said. For Annie to commit ... it started the ball rolling. And then for her -- on her own -- to pick up the phone and call [other recruits], that was huge.Its never just about herself with Annie. She wants to build a great program, and she doesnt care who gets the credit.Tennessee is getting a stellar talent in Hayes, who averaged 19.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.6 assists as a junior last season, earning all-Tennessee honors. Warlick praised Hayes mental toughness and competitiveness, and Tom Insell, Hayes AAU coach with the Tennessee Flight, has talked about her motor.She has the quickest first step of any player Ive ever coached, and I have more than 20 players in the pros right now, Insell said. Shes a little undersized, but she makes up for it with quickness and leaping.As good as Hayes is, she swears her little sisters are just as good, if not better. Aislynn is a sophomore at Riverdale; Alasia is a freshman at Riverdale; and Acacia, 12, may be the best of them all. All three have said they will follow Hayes to Tennessee.All business for KushkituahKushkituah said her new school fits her to a T -- as in Tennessee -- because she wants to enter the universitys entrepreneurship and marketing program.I want to own my own store, something similar to Forever 21, said Kushkituah, who was the second player in the Tennessee class to commit. And I want to sell cupcakes in the store. When my customers buy something, they will get a free cupcake.That dream is still off in the future. For now, Kushkituah is focused on basketball. She averaged 10.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks as a junior, shooting 53 percent from the floor. Better yet, she has led St. Francis to two straight Class A state titles.She has a big future in college and at the next level, Warlick said. Academically, she fits in perfectly. She has a path down which she wants to go, and we have one of the best business schools, especially our MBA program.Kushkituah said she felt a comfort level with the community and found the entire environment extremely supportive.As a bonus, the campus is just a four-hour drive from her Georgia home.After academics and comfort level, basketball was the third thing on Kushkituahs checklist, and she liked what saw there, too.Coach Holly is a great role model because of her success as a player and a coach, Kushkituah said. She is very caring. The night I called her to tell her I was coming, we both got very sensitive.Asked if she cried, Kushkituah said: Something like that. It was such a long [recruiting] process. I was so happy to get it over with.Head east, WestbrookKushkituah and Westbrook took their Tennessee recruiting visit on the same weekend, Sept. 16-18.The players bonded and found they had more in common than just basketball.Everyone who knows me knows that my favorite drink is chocolate milk, Kushkituah said. When they took us out to a fancy restaurant, and Evina ordered chocolate milk, I looked at her. I said, You like chocolate milk? And she said thats all she drinks.Is that the slurping sound of kismet we hear?Signing Westbrook, who averaged 19.5 points last season and led South Salem to its second straight state title, was huge. She also won two straight national championships while playing for her AAU Cal Stars team. And she earned a gold medal with U18 Team USA over the summer at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Chile.After narrowing her choices to also include Oregon State, Notre Dame, Southern Cal and Maryland, Westbrook finally chose the Volunteers last Thursday.It was a tough decision, Westbrook said. Calling the other [four] schools... and having that talk was a pretty hard conversation.Westbrook said she was gratified when Oregon State coach Scott Rueck told her he would try to schedule the Volunteers so she could have a homecoming game.As for the Tennessee class, Westbrook said it will surely put a target on the backs of all four recruits.We have to come in and prove that this class is no joke, Westbrook said. We have to come in and do some damage.But Im not nervous at all. Im more excited than anything.Westbrook said what turned her from a Tennessee skeptic to a willing Volunteer was that she fell in love with the people -- from the players already on the roster, to the coaches and support staff and the large number of orange-clad fans who attend games.Her bond with the players was immediate, and junior guard Diamond DeShields gave her particularly good advice.Diamond said that you are only going to be the best by pushing yourself and working out beyond what you do with the team, Westbrook said. Thats why so many high school players drop off -- they stop doing those little things that got them there.Go fourth!Davis has done the big things so far in her high school career. She averaged 20.3 points and 10.4 rebounds last season at Ribault and led her team to the state title. She was named Floridas Class 5A player of the year. She led her team to a national title at the Dicks Sporting Goods national tournament at Madison Square Garden. She was the MVP of that tournament with 43 points and 21 rebounds in two games.But Tennessee didnt see it, at least not initially.Davis said Maryland had been recruiting her since her freshman year, and Georgia Tech followed. Tennessee didnt join until this past March.At first, I was close-minded to any school recruiting me during this past AAU season, said Davis, mentioning that Kansas and Oklahoma also joined the picture. If you didnt see potential in me at first, dont try to see it now.Davis said she was being so stubborn that she initially refused to visit Tennessee.But [AAU coach Kimberly Davis Powell] opened me up, Davis said. She explained that if the previous recruiting class didnt go well, teams are going to start looking at other players.Tennessee didnt get any guards in the class before me, and thats why it was important they signed Evina, Annie and me.Confident in her abilities, Davis feels she is the go-to scorer the class was missing. She sees Kushkituah in the post, Westbrook and Hayes distributing and scoring as needed in the backcourt ... and she sees herself as that true scorer on the wing.Davis was ultimately swayed by two factors: Tennessees chances at winning a national title with the class the Vols have put together; and the business school at Knoxville that also attracted Kushkituah. But while Kushkituah wants to own a clothing store, with cupcakes of course, Davis dream is to open a soul-food restaurant.And as Davis was trying to decide between her finalists, something (or somebody) got her attention.Annie [Hayes] is so determined to play with a good group of freshmen, Davis said, she was texting me a lot.Annie wants to win. I like a player like that who respects her role, responds to winning and doesnt have to get all the attention. Alex Singleton Jersey . "Theyve both been real good," said Babcock. "Havent changed our minds." 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