Women's Basketball Inks Top 25 Class

Head coach Tom Collen has announced that center Valerie Blackwood, guard Deseree' Byrd, point guard Kiara Evans, forward/center Keshia Hines, and forward Laura Terry have all signed letters-of-intent to play for the University of Louisville next season.

Head coach Tom Collen has announced that center Valerie Blackwood, guard Deseree' Byrd, point guard Kiara Evans, forward/center Keshia Hines, and forward Laura Terry have all signed letters-of-intent to play for the University of Louisville next season.

"As far as recruiting class rankings, this is the best class ever signed at Louisville," said head coach Tom Collen. "It's not the highest class that I have ever signed but it's the one with the most potential. As we all know, recruiting class rankings are more for the fans than the coaches. Before this season is over, I think the Louisville fans will see that the class we signed two years ago that included Helen Johnson, Angel McCoughtry, and Chauntise Wright should have been ranked a Top 10 class. If you really want to know how good this latest class will be, ask me when they are sophomores or juniors."

The 2007 class includes three players ranked in the Top 100 and all five players are ranked in the Top 200. The class gives Tom Collen and his staff their first Top 25 recruiting class and the Cardinals' highest ranked class in school history.

"Louisville's class is definitely in the Top 25, exactly where in the Top 25 I am not sure because we are in the process of ranking the classes now that the signing period is over," said Brett McCormick of All-Star Girls Report. "They have signed everybody for every position on the court and that really helped them out. Kiara Evans and Deseree Byrd are the highlights of this class and then you add Candyce Bingham a transfer from Xavier to the class. I believe this is the best class that Louisville has ever signed."

Below is the list of 2007 Louisville signees:

Valerie Blackwood, 6-5, Center, Ottawa, Ontario, Notre Dame Prep

Valerie Blackwood was ranked as the 86th best player by Blue Star Basketball Report. The Big Apple Recruiting Service ranks her as the No. 4 player in the Northeast. She earned all-star honors at the Fab Five Camp in Atlanta and at the Big Apple camp in New York. Blackwood scored a career-high 20 points against CCRI and pulled down an impressive career-high of 24 rebounds against New York's JFK High School last season.

"Val is a 6-5 post player that has the ability to dominate the lane," said Collen. "She is a young woman with enormous potential. Just a few years ago she was viewed as the next great player in the Canadian National Program. Her development has been slowed by circumstances out of her control. We believe with a little more focus and improved health, she can become one of the best centers in the country."

Deseree' Byrd, 5-9, Guard, Cincinnati, Ohio, Taft High School

Deseree' Byrd was ranked as the 91st best player in the nation by All-Star Girls Report. She finished her junior season averaging 18 points and 12 rebounds a game last season. She earn first team Division II All-Ohio honors last season as a junior. She is ranked as the No. 2 player in the state of Ohio by the Playground Report. She scored 37 points last season in the sectional finals against Talawanda, including the two game-winning free throws.

"I would be shocked if Desi doesn't become one of the great success stories of the all-time at Louisville," Collen said. "She lost her family at a very early age and still found a way to become the No. 2 rated player in the state of Ohio. She has been compared in the Ohio Girls Basketball Recruiting Service to two former BIG EAST All-Americans Cappie Poindexter and Barbara Turner. If she lives up to that billing, she will put a smile on all our fans faces. She is a combo guard that can score, pass and shoot."

Kiara Evans, 5-8, Point Guard, Norcross, Ga., Berkmar High School

Kiara Evans was ranked as the 77th best player in the nation by the All-Star Girls Report. Evans played AAU basketball for the prestigious FBC Georgia Blue team. She finished her junior season averaging 15 points, 4.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game. She was named Player of the Month by the Gwinnett Tip Off Club. She was named to the Gwinnett Tip Off Club Team of the Year.

"Kiara was the find of the summer for our staff," said Collen. "She played for the first time in an AAU program of another top recruit we were chasing and we all fell in love with her game. Kiara is a 5'9 point guard with great vision, good scoring ability and a big time defensive stopper. Our fans will lover her energy."

Keshia Hines, 6-2, Forward/Center, Auburn Hills, Mich., Avondale High School

Keshia Hines was ranked as the top post player in Michigan. She is ranked as the 114th best player in the nation by All-Star Girls Report. She finished her junior season averaging 18 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and two steals per game. She helped guide Avondale High School to the Class A regional title and a 23-3 record. She played AAU basketball for the Orion Pistons. She helped the Pistons to a fifth place finish in the 16-and-Under Nationals this summer.

"Keshia is a 6-2 athlete" said Collen. "She can play either center or power forward. She will remind Louisville fans of current All-American Jazz Covington. She is extremely strong, but can run and jump with anyone and has incredible hands. She will impact us immediately. She has family in Kentucky which was a big plus for us and allowed her to choose the BIG EAST over the Big Ten."

Laura Terry, 6-1, Forward, Ironton, Ohio, Rose Hill Christian High School

Laura Terry was ranked as the 193rd best player in the country by Blue Star Basketball Report. She finished her junior season averaging 18.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. She shot 63.6 percent from the field and 45.1 percent from behind the arc. She was named to the Sweet Sixteen All-Tournament team and earned Region 16 MVP honors last season. She was named the All-Area Player of the Year her junior year.

"We're all excited about the addition of Laura," said Collen. "Laura is a 6-1 forward with tremendous three-point range. She's a 4.0 student who thinks the game as well as she plays it. She's the perfect four player in our system and will remind our fans of former players Kristin Mattox, Misty Smith, and Missy Taylor."


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