Gopher coach Borton talks about recruiting class

The Minnesota Gopher women's basketball team landed another talented class when their four verbal commitments signed their letter of intents. Head coach Pam Borton is very pleased with the foursome who will play for the Gophers next season.

"We landed another tremendous recruiting class with these four individuals joining our program," said Borton. "They are quality people, care about academics and education, and are talented basketball players. Overall, these players come from solid high school and AAU programs with great coaches. They have been well drilled and we will benefit from their experiences."

The Gophers were limited to just seven due sanctions from the Cheryl Littlejohn era. The Gophers have two scholarships available, but will hold those until next year.

Despite the limited number of visits, the Gophers have a talented group of newcomers.

5-7 point guard Brittney Davis of Portland (OR) Jefferson is ranked as the #71 player in the country by All Star Girl's Report. She was co-Player of the Year in the Portland Public School League. Davis averaged 17.0 points per game with a high of 28 points. The Democrats finished 20-5 last season and lost in the third round of the sub-tournament of state. Davis picked Minnesota over USC and UNLV.

'Brittney gives us a legitimate decision maker and creator in transition," said Borton. "Her ability to penetrate and create shots for others will be a great asset for our team."

6-0 forward Leslie Knight of Minnetonka (MN) Hopkins is a two-time all-state selection who has started for the Royals since eighth grade. The three-time All-Classic Lake Conference honoree and 2003 Street & Smith Honorable Mention All-American averaged 19.0 points, 8.9 rebounds and 5.0 assists during her junior season. Knight is also a member of the Hopkins soccer and softball teams.

"Leslie is a great competitor whose selfless attitude is infectious," said Borton. "She brings an incredible work ethic to our team and her inside/outside skills fit perfectly into our system."

Lauren Lacy of Chicago Heights (IL) Marian Catholic (#69) is a two-time all-state pick by both the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun Times. In 2003, she was honored as Illinois Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) All-State First Team, after collecting third-team accord as a sophomore. Lacey has scored 1,118 career points, while averaging 14.3 points per game as a sophomore and 16.1 points per game as a junior. Lacey helped Marian Catholic to a 29-4 record a year ago and a 31-2 mark and a state runner-up finish in 2001-02. A 2003 Street & Smith Honorable Mention All-American, Lacey competed on the USA Basketball Youth Development Festival North Team.

"Lauren brings tremendous skill and versatility to our post game," said Borton. "She makes running the floor a priority and will fit well into our transition game."

6-3 center/forward Natasha Williams of Skokie (IL) Niles (#78) is three-time Street & Smith All-American with sixth-team honors as a junior and honorable mention acclaim after her freshman and sophomore seasons. Williams enters her senior season with 1,100 career points, 950 career rebounds and 330 career blocked shots. She is a four-time All-Central Suburban Conference selection and a 2003 IBCA all-state selection. A Nike All-American Camp participant, Williams joined Lacey on the USA Basketball Youth Development Festival North Team. In action with the USA team, she averaged 15.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game.

"Natasha can dominate with her defense and rebounding alone," said Borton. "She is a wonderfully positive and spirited player that will give us a very athletic post presence."

The Gophers will have their second straight Top 205 class when their four verbal commitments sign their national letter-of-intent.

5-10 shooting guard Allie Quigley of Joliet (IL) Catholic Academy and 5-9 point guard Jillian Ingram from Charlotte (NC) Providence Day School visited the campus along with Williams and Lacy in September. Kimberly Deitz of Boulder, Colorado visited Minnesota last month, but has since committed to Kansas State.

The Gophers signed perhaps the top recruiting class ever last season when they inked 5-9 guard Kelly Roysland of Fosson (MN) High, 6-2 forward-center Jamie Broback from Apple Valley (MN) Eastview and 6-2 forward-center Liz Podominick of Lakeville (MN) High.

They will lose seniors Lindsay Whalen, Leslie Hill and Kadidja Andersson to graduation. The Gophers have two transfers sitting out the season who will be eligible for the 2004-05 season in April Calhoun (Iowa) and Katie Alsdurf (Marquette).

The Gophers women's team complete their exhibition schedule versus Minnesota-Duluth tonight and open regular-season play versus Southern in the Subway Classic Nov. 22.

The Gopher women face perhaps their toughest non-conference schedule ever. Their non-Big Ten schedule is ranked as the 17th toughest in the country, compared to last year's schedule, which was ranked near No. 300.

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