Badger women plug gaps with latest class

Lisa Stone's second recruiting class is balanced and talented

MADISON—Take a quick glance at the University of Wisconsin women's basketball team and its needs for the future are clear: point guard and a post presence. The Badgers feel they shored up both areas Wednesday, and added a special talent to boot, when coach Lisa Stone announced her second recruiting class as Wisconsin's head coach.

"The youth movement is the future of the program, and we are extremely excited about the class we currently have, as well as these three we're bringing in today," Stone said.

After this season, the Badgers will lose senior point guard Stephanie Rich, a four-year starter and the Big Ten's leader in assists last year. UW's post presence diminished after 6-foot-7 center Lello Gebisa and 6-5 center Emily Ashbaugh played their final college games last spring.

The Badgers inked three players Wednesday: Andrea Bankhead, a 5-6 point guard; Caitlin Gibson, a 6-4 center; and Chris Spencer, a 6-1 small forward.

Bankhead, a Hillside, Ill., native who plays her high school ball at Proviso West High School, will become the sixth Badger who played AAU ball for the Chicago Hoops Express. She played up an age group two seasons ago, running the show for the Hoops Express squad that included four current Badger freshmen.

"Her speed and quickness is something our team needs. Our team also needs this electric leader; this excitement she brings to the floor," Stone said.

Gibson was a second-team all-state selection the past two seasons, averaging 15.7 points and 10 rebounds as a junior. She will join Lesha Jones next year in significantly bolstering a Badger front line that will rely on 6-1 post Jordan Wilson, and wiry 6-3 forwards Ebba Gebisa and Danielle Ward. Jones, a 6-4 center, is redshirting this season while she recuperates from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

"[Gibson] has tremendous hands, good feet and a nice array of post moves at this juncture of her age and development," Stone said. "The size we graduated last year we will fill with Caitlin's addition."

Gibson is an athletic post who actually turned down a volleyball scholarship offer from Marquette.

"We saw Caitlin at our elite camp last summer and that pretty much sealed the deal and the fact that we knew that this is someone we need," Stone said. "We need a low post presence, and someone that can rebound and play defense as a post and run the floor, and Caitlin can do those things."

Spencer is the wild card, a dynamic wing player who could make an instant impact. A two-time all state selection out of Traverse City, Mich., Spencer is a finalist for Michigan's Ms. Basketball award. She is averaging 25.8 points, 11.7 rebounds, 3.7 blocks and 3.8 steals per game as a senior (girls basketball is a fall sport in Michigan).

"Chris can play anywhere from a ‘2' to the ‘4' position. This gives us a lot of depth and versatility, and with that comes utility," Stone said. "She can do a lot of things: shoot the 3, handle the basketball and rebound and add both height and quickness to both positions."

Spencer is also a finalist for the Wendy's High School Heisman honor. She will obliterate Traverse Central's previous career scoring and blocks records by the time her prep career concludes.

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