The Tennessee women’s basketball program, currently ranked No. 4/3 in the country, focused on its future Wednesday, announcing the addition of three top-100 players on national signing day.
Second-year head coach Holly Warlick and her staff added to last year’s No. 3-ranked signing class by adding the nation’s No. 5, 28 and 79 rated players, according to the 2014 HoopGurlz Recruiting Rankings – espnW 100. That organization is rating UT’s class as the No. 6 group in the country thus far.
Tennessee received national letters of intent from Jaime Nared (pronounced NARD), a 6-1 guard/forward from Portland Ore. (Westview H.S.), Alexa Middleton, a 5-9 guard from Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Riverdale H.S.) and Kortney Dunbar, a 6-1 guard/forward from Edwardsville, Ill. (Edwardsville).
“I’m excited,” Warlick said about the group that will comprise her freshman class in 2014. “Those are three young ladies we targeted. They have great talent, play with a lot of heart and energy, love the game of basketball and love our Lady Vol program.”
Nared, the No. 5 overall player and top-ranked wing in the class, joins fellow Oregonians and former Team Concept AAU teammates Jordan Reynolds and Mercedes Russell at Tennessee. She averaged 23.7 points, 9.6 rebounds and 4.7 steals as a junior for Westview High School in Portland and is a two-time 6A all-state player.
“Jaime is another Oregon player, and I think she is a great, great defender. Not too many kids come around who love to play defense. Jaime loves to play that end of the floor. She’s strong, is physical, can shoot the three and (has a) good mid-range jumper. Just a good addition for our basketball team.”
Rated the No. 28 player and No. 4 guard nationally among 2014 seniors, Middleton will become the third in-state player on the roster, joining Nashville’s Isabelle Harrison and Clarksville’s Bashaara Graves. Playing for Murfreesboro Riverdale, Middleton averaged 16 points, 3.8 assists and 2.5 steals as a junior to earn all-state accolades for the second time.
“Alexa Middleton is another Tennessee kid,” said Warlick. “She is full of energy. Great point guard, can shoot the three, can drive. Just love her game and love that she’s from Tennessee and she has a passion for the Lady Vols.”
Dunbar, who stands at No. 79 in the rankings but drew notice for her play over the summer, joins Nared in giving the Lady Vols a pair of 6-1 wing players. Dunbar averaged 14.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.6 steals and 2.7 assists as a junior for Edwardsville High School en route to second-team all-state honors.
“Kortney Dunbar – great three-point shooter,” Warlick said. “Catch and shoot – gets the ball off quick and knows the game as well. Has the mid-range, but I think her specialty is the three-point shot. She’s worked really, really hard in perfecting her game.
“I’m really excited about these three young ladies.”