Five signees ink with Lady Frogs for 2008-09
Nov. 15, 2007
FORT WORTH--The TCU women's basketball program inked five players to Early National Letters of Intent, Head Coach Jeff Mittie announced Thursday. The signees, coupled with three transfer players already on campus, bring the Frogs' 2008-09 incoming class total to eight student-athletes.
The latest additions are comprised of one junior college athlete--April Murphy (Corpus Christi, Texas)--and four high school commits--Chelsea Cunningham (Houston, Texas), Tolu Omotola (Houston, Texas), Brittany Pennell (Anaheim, Calif) and Amanda Sims (Fullerton, Calif.). The class includes three guards and two forward prospects.
TCU's five additions will join transfers Chantelle John, TK LaFleur and Eboni Mangum on the squad's roster next season. The Frogs will be looking to replace five seniors from its current lineup in Lorie Butler-Rayford, Moneka Knight, Jenna Lohse, Helen Roden and Adrianne Ross.
"We knew going in that this would be a class with large numbers," Mittie said. "We will need to replace several talented guards next season. We had to build depth in that position with this class, and I think we accomplished that. Secondly, we wanted to add size. In the women's game, adding size and physical players is critical to being able to progress your program. I think we have also been able to accomplish that. Overall, I would put this class, from a talent perspective, against any class we have signed since I've been here."
Murphy, a 6-6 center prospect out of Tyler Junior College, headlines the class with the chance to contribute immediately for the Lady Frogs next season. She averaged 7.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game a year ago as a freshman while helping the Apaches reach the consolation championship of the NJCAA Tournament. Murphy, who played high school ball at Carrol High School in Corpus Christi, was rated as the No. 6 overall junior college prospect, and second among all centers, by Dan Olson of Collegiate Girls Basketball Report.
"April is a skilled big player," Mittie said. "She can face the basket and is an excellent shot blocker. April seems to have tremendous upside and definitely is one of the top five junior college players in the country. The nice thing about her is she plays the center position with forward skills. She's not just someone you stick on the blocks. We plan to utilize those skills."
Cunningham pledged to join TCU following a solid junior season for Thurgood Marshall High School in Houston. The 5-6 guard, who earned first-team All-District 23 5A honors a year ago, adds a tremendous 3-point shooting presence to the class.
"Chelsea is a great long-range shooter, and can be utilized as a combo (point and shooting) guard," Mittie said. "We like her ability to play either the one or two position. We felt that we needed a little more depth at the point guard spot, and she's also a great 3-point shooter, so we hope to take advantage of her complete game."
Omotola, a 6-3 forward out of Dulles High School in Sugar Land, averaged 10 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks, while hitting 51 percent of her field goals and 70 percent of her free throws as a junior in 2006-07 to earn second-team all-district honors. She was recently selected to participate with the Nigeria Under-19 Women's National Team and is rated as the 44th-best power forward prospect nationally by Collegiate Girls Basketball Report. Omotola has spent additional time playing club basketball with the Houston Heat.
"Tolu is a physical power forward who has a great college frame," Mittie said. "The upside with her is very good. She just gets better every day. Tolu will be a really good fit for a front line that were are building that is both athletic and physical. She can run and play the full-court game, as well."
In addition to TCU's usual heavy emphasis on recruiting its home state, Mittie and his staff ventured outside the Texas borders to land California natives Pennell and Sims.
Pennell, a 6-0 shooting guard from Magnolia High School in Anaheim, will give the Lady Frogs another solid player with all-around skills. She has a knack for shooting the trey, in addition to her ability to attack the rim. Pennell was named a first-team All-Orange League performer as a sophomore by the Orange County Register.
"This is probably the most versatile player in the group," Mittie said. I think Brittany can play any position from the one to the four. She reminds me a lot of (current Lady Frog) Lorie Butler-Rayford, in that she can go inside or outside. Brittany has great vision, and we definitely feel that she can be that player who can fill a variety of roles for us."
Sims will provide TCU with another prospect for the two-guard position. A 5-10 guard for Troy High School in Fullerton, Calif., Sims was rated a three-star recruit by both Scout.com and HoopGurlz.com, while Collegiate Girls Basketball Report rated her as the nation's No. 73 overall prospect and 13th-best shooting guard. She logged time playing for the California Swish club team in the summer of 2007.
"Sims is a good outside shooter," Mittie said. "She is a very heady player, and I like the fact that she is a big, physical guard who can get inside to the basket. She is a solid defender, as well. Amanda is probably the best fundamental player of this class."