Women's basketball coach Lisa Stone announced her first Badger recruiting class Wednesday afternoon, with five prep seniors committing on early signing day.
Stone and her staff landed South Shore High School (Port Wing, Wis.) 5-8 guard Jolene Anderson, Milwaukee Rufus King 6-4 center/forward Danielle Ward, 5-11 guard/forward Shari' Welton from Calumet, Ill. (Thornwood High School), 6-3 center/forward Lesha Jones from Detroit's Martin Luther King High School and Evanston Ill. native Akiya Alexander, a 5-9 guard who attends The Patterson School in Patterson, N.C.
"We feel very good about this class," Stone said. "They are very athletic. They are great, great people, come from great families. They fit in tremendously with our current team. All of our Wisconsin Badger women's basketball team, sold these players on this institution and all it had to offer."
Wisconsin potentially landed one player at each position on the court. Jones, rated No. 73 by the All-State Girls Report is expected to play center at Wisconsin. Jones is currently averaging 22 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks per game. Her prep team begins state tournament play next week and currently holds a 17-0 record.
Ward, No. 135 according to ASGR, averaged 15 points, 10 rebounds and four steals per game as a junior and will likely play the four position in college. Both she and Jones are left-handed.
Anderson has 1,928 career points and is on track to become the all-time leading scorer in Wisconsin prep history. She will likely play the "two" at Wisconsin.
Another versatile guard, Alexander could play the point for the Badgers. Alexander, ranked No. 84 by ASGR, is playing at Patterson, a prep school, after attending Evanston Township High School.
Welton could eventually play across the perimeter, but Stone said she will likely become a small forward at Wisconsin. Welton averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds per game.
"We have, basically, a player at each position that is going to combine with a current women's basketball team that is committed to taking this program to the next level," Stone said. "We have addressed our needs from an athletic standpoint. We are excited about these kids. They fit in great with our staff, but more importantly with our players."
Wisconsin's new recruits do not exactly need introductions to each other.
"Four of these players: Lesha Jones, Danielle Ward, Akiya Alexander and Shari' Welton all played on the Chicago Hoops Express (an AAU team)," Stone said. "So they know each other, they are familiar with each other and, of course, we visited this already, Jolene will fit in tremendously with them as well."
Wisconsin's recruiting class may not be complete. The Badgers, who have three seniors on their roster, have two more available scholarships. Due to her medical redshirt, Shawna Nicols' scholarship does not count against Wisconsin's total.
Wrestling adds seven on early signing day
Wisconsin wrestling coach Barry Davis announced Wednesday that seven recruits have signed national letters of intent and will join the Badgers' 2004-05 wrestling roster.
Wisconsin natives Josh and Jordan Crass (Medford, Wis.), Craig Henning (Chippewa Falls, Wis.) and Dallas Herbst (Winneconne, Wis.) will join William Seth Garvin (Homewood, Ala.), Zachary Tanelli (Short Hills, N.J.) and Kyle Massey (Champlin, Minn.) as members of UW's newest class.
"I'm very excited about this incoming class," Davis said in a press release. "They will bring a lot of intensity into the room. For our program to really continue to grow, we need that type of increased competition on the wrestling team. Very seldom do you get a class like this with wrestlers at all different weights and our staff is looking forward to them joining our team next year."
InterMat, a wrestling news and ranking service, lauded Wisconsin's early signings.
"In the early signing period, the Wisconsin class is going to be one of the top classes, if not the top class in the nation," InterMat founder and owner Tom Owens said in a press release.