Fortner Fired Up About Signee Class

The Auburn women's basketball team has signed four high school players for its 2009 freshman class.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn women's basketball coach Nell Fortner says likes the versatility of her early period signee group that includes four highly-regarded high school seniors who signed scholarship papers on Thursday to play for the Tigers next season.

"I'm really excited about this class, I think we got a little bit of everything," notes Fortner, whose Tigers open the 2008-2009 season on Friday night at Alabama A&M.

"It is great to have this class coming in behind the freshmen class we have now because it is a very athletic class, it has size, speed, it has a little bit of everything and I feel good about the future."

The signees include 6-8 center Pascale "P.J." West from Troup County High in LaGrange, Ga., 6-3 forward Blanche Alverson from Buford, Ga., High, 5-9 point guard Morgan Toles from Sandy Creek High in Fayetteville, Ga., and 5-10 guard Nicolle Thomas from Colquitt County High in Moultrie, Ga.

All of the signees were standouts at Auburn's summer camps and all are nationally-ranked prospects at their positions who had multiple offers from high-level programs.

West towers over players at a summer camp.

Commenting on West, who averaged 10 points and 10 rebounds as a junior, Fortner says, "P.J.'s upside is tremendous, it is just a matter of how good she personally wants to be, She runs the floor very, very well and has become a much more aggressive player over the past four years. We have known her for a long time and her game is really starting to develop in a big way and we are looking for her to do some nice things here at Auburn."

"At 6-8, to have that kind of size is awesome," adds Fortner. "We will have KeKe Carrier for one more year and to have P.J. there with her will be great."

Commenting on Toles, Fortner says, "Morgan is a tremendous point guard, I am so excited about her. We lose Whitney Boddie, who is a heck of a point guard, and Morgan is going to come in here and be able to do a lot of what Whitney does.

Morgan Toles

"When you put her on the court along with Morgan Jennings and some of the other great athletes we have out here, we get a lot faster," says Fortner. "That is a really good thing for us, especially with the way we are playing right now. She has a great upside to her and she has not reached her full potential by any stretch of the word." Commenting on Alverson, who averaged 15.8 points and 7.6 rebounds as a junior, Auburn's coach says, "Blanche sees the floor very well and that makes the people around her better, which is a good thing," said Fortner. "She is a very skilled defensive player and is a tremendous addition to what we have, especially with her versatility.

Blance Alverson

"Blanche is a very versatile player and can play all three spots on the floor. She can play a perimeter spot and an inside spot. She has the ability to shoot the three, put it on the floor, she is an excellent passer, and that is a skill that you do not get a lot of kids coming in with anymore."

Commenting on Thomas, who averaged 16 points and eight rebounds as a junior, Fortner says, "Nicolle is one of those players that has flown under the radar. She had a great summer and made a name for herself. She is so strong, similar to Reneisha Hobbs, has a great build with quick feet.

Nicolle Thomas

"Nicolle has a beautiful shot, is a great three-point shooter, but can also get to the hole very strong," says Fortner. "Her game is very versatile. She has had to play inside in high school, but will play on the perimeter for us.

"The good thing about her playing inside in high school is that she has those skills already, similar to Sherell Hobbs when she came to us. Sherell has played perimeter her whole time here, but we can also post her up. Coming in with those kinds of skills makes her a very dangerous player."

All four of the signees were prospects who had verbally committed to the Tigers earlier this year.

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