Ashley Owens (Forest Park, Ill./Trinity), Nicole Watkins (Cheshire, Ohio/River Valley), Brittany Tyson (Ypsilanti, Mich./Huron), and Carrie Moore (Southfield, Mich./Detroit Country Day) signed letters to attend Western Michigan and play basketball beginning in the fall of 2003.
"This class is very strong in terms of fundamentals," WMU head coach Ron Stewart said. "That will allow them to come in and be a factor right away. I firmly believe this group will help keep the program at a high level. It's a very good mix."
The 6-1 Owens has been rated as one of the top-five power forwards in Illinois and among the top-50 players in the state. A two-time West Suburban Conference player, Owens averaged 16 points and 12 rebounds per game as a junior. The Blazers are ranked among the top five in the state in three different polls.
"Ashley is someone we followed all summer and she made her decision to come to Western Michigan
early in the fall," Stewart said. "We feel very good about where she fits in. She may remind some fans of Shelsea Erving - she's solid in the post, can drive the floor, rebound, and also has finesse and the ability to shoot the bas-ketball.
She could come in here and, because of her playing style, demand playing time."
Watkins was a three-sport star at River Valley High School in Cheshire, Ohio, earning letters in softball and volleyball in addition to basketball. She earned All-Southeast Ohio Athletic League and all-district honors in
all three sports as a junior. Watkins helped the volleyball team win the 2002 Ohio Valley Conference title. She is also an honor roll student with a 4.0 GPA.
"At 5-11, Nicole can play any of three positions on the perimeter," Stewart said. "She has improved immensely over last year. She has good ballhandling skills and the ability to score off the dribble. She's a good shooter, very mobile, and on top of that an extremely hard worker."
The No. 2 all-time girls' point producer at Huron High School in Ann Arbor, Mich., Tyson has helped the River Rats post a 15-3 record this season. She was averaging 21.1 ppg., 3.9 apg., 4.0 rpg., and 3.5 spg. this sea-son.
Last season Tyson was a First Team All-Area selection by the Ann Arbor News and a First Team Metro West selection by the Detroit News. She also earned Detroit Free Press Second Team All-West accolades following her junior year.
A 5-8 point guard, Tyson helped the Motor City Blazers AAU team to a No. 13 finish at the national championships and a fifth-place finish at the Nike National Championships.
"Brittany is a scoring point guard," Stewart said. "She has matured as the program at Huron has matured the last four years. She has shown leadership qualities by helping that program rise. Brittany can absolutely get to the basket or free throw line and handle the ball. She'll definitely helps us maintain an up-tempo game."
A 2002 Street & Smith Honorable Mention All-American, Moore had helped Detroit Country Day to a 25-2 record thus far this season. The Yellowjackets were the 2001 Class B State runner-up during her junior season.
"Carrie is a proven winner," the Bronco head coach said. "She is playing on a championship team and plays for a great program and a great coach. She fits the profile of every player you would wish to bring in.
Carrie is versatile in that she can play different positions and has a tremendous understanding of the game, scoring
ability, and leadership ability that will help her fit in with this group."
Moore was honored as a 2001 Michigan Sports Writers and Broadcasters All-State First Team player and was also named to the Detroit News All-Area North Second Team and the Detroit Free Press All-Metro Third Team. She was ranked the No. 1 junior in the state by Prep Spotlight Magazine and was tabbed No. 3 by Preps in the Paint in 2001. She also earned a spot on the 2001 Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association Girls
All-State Second Team as well the all-region and all-district rosters.
Western Michigan hosts the Dominican Republic National Team Monday (Nov. 18) in its final exhibition game of the year. WMU hosts Illinois State Nov. 23 in its season opener.
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