COLLEGE STATION -- Four of the nation’s top blue-chip recruits have signed their National Letter of Intent to join the Texas A&M women’s basketball program for the 2008-09 season as announced by head coach Gary Blair Wednesday.
The nationally-ranked Aggies have inked Lone Star State talents in Sydney Carter, a 5-foot-6 combination guard out of DeSoto High School in DeSoto, Texas, Skylar Collins, a 5-foot-9 shooting guard out of Cedar Hill High School in Cedar Hill, Texas, and Adaora Elonu, a six-foot small forward out of Alief Elsik High School in Houston, Texas. The Texas trio is joined by Floridian Kelsey Assarian, a 6-foot-1 post player out of Barron Collier High School in Naples, Fla.
“In this recruiting class we filled needs not just wants,” Blair said. “Due to injuries and graduation, we felt like we needed young ladies that had tremendous versatility and could play more than one position. Each of these signees can play multiple positions and all of them come from winning high school programs, top notch AAU programs and excel in the classroom. This top recruiting class has the intangibles which will help carry us both on-and-off the court. They are all excellent students and members of the National Honor Society at their respective high schools. Academics were a key factor for each of them when choosing to sign with Texas A&M, because they wanted to be challenged academically and athletically at a world-renowned university.”
Rated the No. 54 overall prospect and the eighth-best power forward in the Class of 2008 by the All-Star Girls Basketball Report, Kelsey Assarian (pronounced us-AIRR-ian) was the first recruit to commit to A&M. Originally from Grapevine, Texas, she moved to Florida in the eighth grade and has since become Florida’s top player in the class of 2008 as rated by Dan Olsen of Collegiate Girls Basketball Report. Last year, she averaged 15.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks as a junior. Assarian was also named 2006-07 Naples Daily News Girls Basketball Player of the Year and a 2006 All-Florida Second Team selection. A Street & Smith’s Honorable Mention All-American, she led Barron Collier High School to the state 5A championship title and a 31-2 overall record as a sophomore. Assarian also competes in volleyball and track and field and her older sister, Allyson, is currently a senior at Texas A&M. She is looking to major in engineering or architecture at A&M.
“Kelsey is one of the most physical players I’ve seen come out of high school in the last few years,” Blair said. “She will easily fit into our style of play on the defensive end. She scores inside at will and usually against taller post players. We want her to play more at the high post position and increase her range. She’s also an outstanding all-around athlete as a middle blocker on her state-ranked volleyball team.”
Rated the No. 44 overall prospect and the sixth-best shooting guard in the Class of 2008 by the All-Star Girls Basketball Report, Skylar Collins was former teammates with current Texas A&M sophomore forward Ashlaa Horton at Cedar Hill High School. Last season, she was named the District 8-5A offensive player of the year and earned all-state honors. Collins averaged 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game as a junior and recently scored a game-high 33 points versus Skyline High School. She is looking to major in sports medicine or sport management at A&M. Collins chose A&M over Kansas and Illinois.
“Skylar is a larger Erica Roy who played for us our first three years at A&M,” Blair said. “She is one of the most competitive young ladies that I have seen come out of high school. She refuses to lose in anything and will bring that attitude with her everyday to the practice floor. She can defend at all three of the perimeter positions and will get plenty of playing time because of her defense. As she matures and settles into a true shooting guard, her offensive game will flourish. For her high school team, she has to play inside a lot because of her size, but she works on her outside game daily and shoots the three well.”
Rated the No. 63 overall prospect and the 10th-best point guard in the Class of 2008 by the All-Star Girls Basketball Report, Sydney Carter hopes to follow in the footsteps of former A&M All-American Lisa Branch (1993-96) who is also a product of DeSoto High School. Last season, she was selected as co-MVP of District 8-5A and earned all-area second team honors. Carter averaged 11.9 points and 4.3 rebounds as a junior and has already passed the 1,200 career-point mark. Rated the ninth-best player in the state of Texas, she led DeSoto to a 36-3 overall record and a regional championship appearance a year ago. Carter also competes in track and field and chose A&M over Louisville. She is looking to pursue a pre-medicine major at A&M.
“Sydney hails from the same high school that produced Aggie Hall of Famer Lisa Branch,” Blair said. “Her high school coach, Larry Goad, says they are very similar. Lisa was quicker and a great leader, but Sydney is stronger and a better shooter. She will be converted to the point guard position at A&M, but can double up and play the shooting guard spot if needed. Her high school team is ranked second in the state and has four Division I signees on their team. She also plays in the same district as future A&M teammate Skylar Collins from Cedar Hill.”
Rated the No. 49 overall prospect and the sixth-best power forward in the Class of 2008 by the All-Star Girls Basketball Report, Adaora Elonu (pronounced uh-DOOR-uh eh-lawn-OO) is the younger sister of Texas A&M sophomore men’s basketball forward/center Chinemelu Elonu. Last year, she averaged 18.4 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 2.0 blocks per game during her junior campaign and recently scored a game-high 22 points versus The Woodlands High School. A preseason second-team All-Greater Houston selection, Elonu plays for the 13th-ranked Class 5A Lady Rams. She looks to pursue a pre-medicine major at A&M with future aspirations of becoming a pediatrician. Elonu, who is also a standout in volleyball and track and field, chose A&M over Baylor, George Washington and Kansas.
“Adaora is the centerpiece of our great recruiting class,” Blair said. “She is a high post player that has the same versatility to match that of Morenike Atunrase and Danielle Gant. She has really worked hard this summer with her AAU team by developing her face-up skills and her shooting range. She just knows how to play the game and has the basketball I.Q. that you must have to be successful at the Division I level. Her family is very close and extremely proud and supportive of each other. With Morenike graduating this season and Danielle going into her senior year, we will need Adaora to be able to produce for us right away.”
The Aggie women are currently ranked No. 11 nationally in both the USA TODAY/ESPN Coaches Top 25 Poll and Associated Press Top 25 Poll. A&M was also predicted to win its second consecutive Big 12 Conference title this season. Assarian, Carter, Collins and Elonu will join the Aggies next fall.
“My staff has worked hard on this class for three years,” Blair said. “They keep filling the roster with young ladies that can achieve success in the classroom and play the aggressive style of Aggie basketball that has raised the bar of expectations at Texas A&M University. The blueprint works, so we will keep bringing in quality young ladies that can play both ends of the floor.”
2007-08 TEXAS A&M WOMEN’S BASKETBALL SIGNING CLASS
Kelsey Assarian, 6-1, Forward, Naples, Fla. (Barron Collier HS)
Sydney Carter, 5-6, Guard, DeSoto, Texas (DeSoto HS)
Skylar Collins, 5-9, Guard, Cedar Hill, Texas (Cedar Hill HS)
Adaora Elonu, 6-0, Forward, Houston, Texas (Alief Elsik HS)
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING ABOUT TEXAS A&M WOMEN’S BASKETBALL SIGNING CLASS
“This is a solid class and Coach Blair basically didn’t have to leave the state. (Kelsey) Assarian currently lives in Florida, but she was born and bred in Texas. A&M probably will be ranked in the top 10 among recruiting classes, because this class doesn’t have any voids.” – Dan Olson, Collegiate Girls Basketball Report
“Skylar Collins is a very athletic, typical A&M player. She is a very skilled two guard who will see the floor right away. Adaora Elonu is a big-time athlete that can play the three as well as the four positions and will provide immediate help for the Aggies. Kelsey Assarian is a big-time banger with skills as good as anyone in the country. She can score with either hand and has a definite low-post presence. Sydney Carter is a big-time point guard that had a great summer and will surprise many people. This is a dynamite recruiting class that was originally ranked No. 23, but with the additions of Elonu and Carter, it will probably move up to being one of the top 15-ranked classes in the nation.” – Brett McCormick, All-Star Girls Basketball Report National Scouting Director