Dykes Excited About Arkansas' Recruiting Haul
Except for maybe Bruce Jenner, perhaps no one is taking on a bigger transformation right now than Jimmy Dykes is with the Arkansas women’s basketball program.
Dykes somehow got his team of eight healthy players into the NCAA Tournament in his rookie season at the helm of the Lady Razorbacks (18-14).
“We had to have a lot of things go our way, we had to stay healthy for the most part…I couldn’t have asked for a better first year,” noted Dykes Tuesday night after being the featured speaker at the Life Source International Gala in Fayetteville.
“To make the NCAA Tournament and win a first-round game and be just a win away from the Sweet 16, it has really generated a lot of juice and enthusiasm in recruiting and we have already seen that in the 2015 and 2016 classes so we have a lot of momentum.”
With two seniors on this season’s roster and two players moving on, Dykes had a plethora of scholarships to fill and capped that haul with the signing of the ninth on Monday – Coffeyville, Kan., Community College shooting guard Devin Cosper.
Cosper is one of three Junior College All-Americans and four juco players overall that he signed this spring to go along with five early signees.
“We have three returning starters in Melissa Wolfe, Jessica Jackson and Kelsey Brooks and then we are going to have nine new faces out there,” Dykes said.
“I think we are going to have a lot of really good individual pieces coming in and the challenge is going to be how quickly can we form that into a team. It will take awhile.
“The one thing about this year’s team was that we were really, really close. We were together and we were tough and we have got to pull that off with this new group coming in.”
Cosper, who led the Jayhawk Conference in scoring at 20 points per game, joins Sedalia, Mo., State Fair CC center Alecia Cooley (6-4) and New Mexico Junior College forward Angelica de Paulo (6-3) as the trio of first-team All-Americans signed by Dykes.
“There are 10 first-team junior college All-Americans named every year and we signed three of them,” Dykes said. “Surely one of those kids can help us, huh?
“Devin Cosper was the only freshman on the team and she will have three years for us. She really decided to leave Coffeyville after one year and we found out about it and really got it done in about three weeks.
“We also addressed our size issue. We were a very small team all year long and three of those kids are post players for us.”
Conway’s Jordan Danberry and North Little Rock’s Malika Monk are two top 60 players nationally that Arkansas signed.
The other signees are Wonderview forward Bailey Zimmerman (6-0), Arkansas Baptist center Tatiyana Smith (6-3), 5-9 guard Briunna Freeman of Pelham, Ga., and 6-1 forward Keiryn Swenson of Wichita, Kan., Maize.
“Jordan Danberry is a two-time state player of the year in Arkansas and is a difference maker in terms of talent,” Dykes said. “We also signed the player of the year in the state of Kansas as well.
“We have got a lot of good-looking pieces and now we just have to mold them into a team beginning when they are all here at the end of June.”
The sheer numbers should allow Dykes to spread the floor defensively more and he hopes make scoring points easier than last season.
“I tell you what, we are a lot faster,” Dykes said. “We have got four or five kids that were state champions in the 100-meter dash. That’s going to be a lot of speed on the floor and hopefully allow us to score some points off off our defense going forward.
“We never scored off of our defense, never scored in transition this year. Hopefully we will be able to score a little bit easier this year.”
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