Question: Why no Misisssippi signees?
Ross: " Unfortunately, we had to fulfill our needs, and they happen to come outside of the state lines. They are all very well rounded: academically, athletically, and socially, which is what we are always striving to recruit."
Question: Could Daphnee Frieson be your top post player you have signed yet at Ole Miss>
Ross: "Yeah, I don't know. They all look good on signing day and everyone is full of potential, but her legacy will come about five years from now. But, on paper, she is very gifted. She's big. She's tall. She's athletic. But more than any of that, she's a very hungry, driven player. She wants to be good and she works very hard to be good. And, that's really where greatness comes from. It's not your vertical. It's not you stats. It's what's inside you, and she's got a lot of characteristics, that I think. Her best possible is definitely in front of her and I think she will continue to elevate, each and every year, her career just because she is a hard worker."
Question: How would you describe Alliesha Frieson?
Ross: Alliesha is a fierce, competitive, tough kid. Every head coach has to find someone who fits into their personality. She does that for me. She plays with the toughness that's become a trademark of Briarcrest Basketball. She's got a little Mitzy in her. She's got a little Ashley Early in her, and yet she's her own player. She's a utility guard that can play more than one position. What I love about her is her versatility and her competitiveness."
Question: .Is it just a conincidence that you signed two players from Memphis or is this a trend?
Ross: " Well, we consider Memphis to be geographically as close. They play good basketball in Memphis and it's just common sense that if I'm going to shop there, I'm going to recruit there."
Question: .Are you going to build a fence around Memphis like Coach Orgeron?
Ross: "Wherever I've always been, I've recruited that state or part. But, I think that Memphis has a lot of good players and I don't think necessarily it's going to be a one-University-town. I think they're playing great players and I think everybody is aware of that. But, we are territorial by nature and you better be in this business. Hopefully the players we have from Memphis are having a good experiences. I think everybody wants to be a part of something special. I think people recognize what we're doing here is something they want to be a part of."
Question: Where does that leave you scholarship-wise going into next season?
Ross: "I'm always going to have plenty of scholarships. I don't pack my own roster. I don't think we've got 15 to give and I can't make 15 girls happy. I'm not in the making people happy business. I'm in the winning business. So, we're going to always have about twelve or eleven players. I want them all to think they have an opportunity to play and I want them all to compete everyday as if they've got a shot to get into the line-up. I think you can do that with low numbers. However, if a seven foot eleven Romanian walks in, I'm all for it. I'll be ready. I'll always have one in my pocket and I can whip it out if I need to. So, I stay optimistic.
Question: Talk about Elizabeth Robertson.
Ross: "She's a nice size guard. You know, you're always trying to develop chemistry, and always going after kids that you can plug-in and make the team better. Elizabeth is a big, strong, scraping-type point player. She's got a great three point shot. She's also aggressive and competitive. She's been well coached: Fran Brass, a legendary high school coach in Birmingham. I just like her competitiveness and she's success oriented like all the other signees. I think Elizabeth can definitely come in and make a better ball club.
Question: about this year's signing, the trend in men's basketball is for players who are not qualified coming out of high school trying to play their eligibility at one of the prep schools. Women's basketball really hasn't seen that trend towards the prep schools, but rather junior colleges. Why is that?
Ross: "Well, there are a couple of reasons. Number one, there are two kinds of prep schools. One is to prep people academically to go to Harvard and Yale, the one is a prep school to get people ready athletically, to get people into other four-year schools. And with men's basketball, it's a lucrative business. If you can save a guy, put him in college and let him get to the NBA and there are scholarships available for that tacet. Girl's basketball, hasn't turned into a business. So, prep schools want tuition money and there's nobody willing to pay the bills. So, it's a very expensive option for girls where it is not for guys. That's the main reason, and there are not a whole lot of people in the business for girls, so prep schools are not an option. Unless they're a true academic prep school, which is not the ones you're talking about.
Question: Have you met your needs and what were your needs coming into this season?
Ross: "We wanted to get bigger, which every team wants to, but we really felt like we needed to grow this team a little taller. And, we felt like we did that. If you look at what we're losing, we're going to lose a five-nine two guard a five-ten wing player and a five-eleven post player. So, we've already gotten bigger at the wing. We've gotten bigger inside. We needed a guard that could play either the two or the one, a utility-type guard, because we didn't want to sign a true point-guard this year. So, we've met that need. Anytime we can better ourselves, and again, we're always trying to out recruit the last class. We're always trying to get better. In our league it is a necessity, it's not a luxury, signing day, it is a necessity. If you don't recruit, you get fired. If you don't recruit, you lose. It is the lifeblood of college athletics and I love it. I love being able to bring in people that can, not only impact our program on game day but impact it for years to come. We're unusual here, because most of us have played here. So, who we choose to put in an Ole Miss uniform is a special moment and an important moment because they represent me, whether I coach here or not, but because I played here. And, because we've shared that uniform, we want good character and we want people who can win. Win on Sunday afternoons and Thursday nights and then everyday in the classroom. I feel like we've been able to continue to enhance what's already been here and we will continue to try to make our practices competitive. Great players will fight each other everyday on that court. When you bring somebody else in here that gets off the bus, that's just fresh meat, they get to get after someone they really don't like. So, that's the way we want to keep it. Edgy. Everybody edgy all the time. Nobody gets comfortable."
Question: Having said that, do feel like this class is better than last year's class?
Ross: "They better be. I'll be one step closer to the beach if not. You hope so. I think last year, on paper, that was an outstanding class. But, paper didn't crawl into that uniform, which we all know. I think because of sheer numbers, we signed four last year they were outstanding, with two that made it here and we're glad the two who did are doing well. But, our numbers are better this year in anticipation that they will all arise in play and represent. So, yes, I think we have."
Question: Talk about Bianco Thomas
think she's got a lot of the same characteristics. Really, until you coach, until
you put them in adversity you don't really know a whole lot. They've got to get
through me and by the time that happens they'll be happy to play Tennessee or
LSU. So, you don't know what's inside of somebody until they're pressed against
the wall. I would hope that based upon what we did know, and we do try to delve
deep into the core of who they are when we're recruiting them, so that you can
anticipate how they're going to respond to adversity. Our league is adversity.
The people that can weather it, and thrive in it and the people that cannot handle
the adversity don't survive in our league very well.
Alliesha Easley (G, Briarcrest, TN) - 5' 9"
Daphnee Frieson (C, Mobile, AL) - 6' 4"
Elisabeth Robertson (G, Vestavia Hills, AL) - 5' 11"
Bianca Thomas (G, Henderson, TN) - 5' 7"
Ole Miss women's basketball Head Coach Carol Ross announced the signing of four players on Wednesday. Alliesha Easley of Briarcrest (Tenn.) High School, Daphnee Frieson of Vigor (Ala.) High School, Elizabeth Robertson of Vestavia Hills (Ala.) High School and Bianca Thomas of Chester County (Tenn.) High School signed national letters of intent to join the Ole Miss women's basketball program beginning in the 2006-07 academic year.
"I feel like we met our needs in terms of positions and skills with this quartet," said Ross. "We always strive for the complete student-athlete and these four are exceptional in the classroom as well as on the basketball court. They truly represent what Lady Rebel basketball stands for and are natural fits with our program. They will be outstanding ambassadors on the campus and in the community, as well as on the court."
Easley, a 5-9 guard, is one of the top players in the state of Tennessee. She averaged 19.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.0 steals per game as a junior at Briarcrest. She is a two-time finalist for the Tennessee Class 2A Miss Basketball award after leading the Lady Saints to the state quarterfinals. Easley, a native of Cordova, Tenn., was named to the Commercial Appeal Best of the Preps and was named honorable mention All-State regardless of division by the Associated Press in 2004-05. Easley, who verbally committed to the Lady Rebels in June, chose Ole Miss over Louisiana Tech.
"Alliesha brings a great amount of versatility to the guard position," said Ross. "She's a player with a multitude of skills. She comes from a great program in Briarcrest, where she has been coached by Hugh Freeze and Lee Smith. She has that tough personality that most Briarcrest players possess."
Frieson, a 6-4 post player, joins the Lady Rebel program after averaging 19.0 points and 16.0 rebounds per game as a junior at Satsuma High School. She returned to Vigor High School for her senior season, the school she also played at as a freshman and sophomore. Frieson is currently ranked as the 11th-best center and 50th-best overall player in the nation by All-Star Girls Report.
"Daphnee fills a huge need for us in the post," said Ross. "She is not just tall, but is also very athletic. She can roam around the interior and also possesses some face-up skills. She is a very hungry player and drives herself to be the best she can be every day."
A native of Mobile, Ala., Frieson was a first-team Mobile Register All-Region selection and second-team 6A All-State pick as a junior. She also earned honorable mention All-America honors by Street and Smith and was named second team All-State as a sophomore by the Birmingham News. She was selected for the 2005 Alabama North-South All-Star game. Frieson, who is coached by Arthor Brown at Vigor High School, chose the Lady Rebels over Texas Tech, West Virginia, Michigan State, Louisiana Tech and Southern California.
Robertson, a 5-11 guard, joins Ole Miss from Vestavia Hills High School in Vestavia, Ala. Robertson, who plays for the legendary Alabama high school coach Fran Braasch at Vestavia Hills, helped lead the Rebels to a 33-2 record and as high as a No. 1 ranking in Class 6A in the state of Alabama as a junior.
"Elizabeth is a big, strong, tall player on the perimeter," said Ross. "She can see over the defense and shoots the three very well. She has a very strong work ethic and a steady personality. We are most excited about her huge upside."
Robertson, who averaged 13.0 points per game and connected on 40 percent of her shots from beyond the arc as a junior, went against her fellow Ole Miss signee Frieson in the 2005 Alabama North-South All-Star game. She recently led the Vestavia Hills volleyball team to the Alabama Class 6A state semifinals and has her basketball team ranked No. 22 in the nation according to Student Sports. She selected Ole Miss over Georgia Tech, Auburn, Alabama and Samford.
Rounding out the 2006-07 signing class is a standout from Henderson, Tenn., in Thomas. The 5-7 guard who plays for Lee Pipkin at Chester County High joins Frieson as a 2005 Street and Smith honorable mention All-America selection after leading her team to the Tennessee Class 2A state title last season. Thomas was named MVP of the state tournament and averaged 22.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game as a junior.
"Bianca is very versatile in that she can play each of the three perimeter spots," said Ross. "She is an extremely gifted offensive player. She can really put the ball in the basket. Whether it is off the dribble or hitting three's she can really score some points."
The reigning Tennessee Class 2A Miss Basketball, Thomas participated in the Nike Elite Skills Camp during the summer and was named the Jackson Sun All-West Tennessee Player of the Year in 2005. In addition, Thomas' 15-and-under AAU team won the 2004 national title. Thomas chose Ole Miss over Clemson, Western Kentucky, Florida State and Alabama.
"We got everything we needed with these four great players," said Ross. "Each of the coaches on the staff (Peggie Gillom-Granderson, Renee Ladner and Jocelyn McGilberry) did an outstanding job this summer of finding exactly what we were looking for and aggressively pursuing those players. I could not be more pleased with the young women who will be arriving in Oxford next season."