Signing day: Flashes add a point guard to three other earlier commitments

Kent State’s women’s basketball team has picked up another 2017 recruit in the current early signing period. But it lost a player who had announced in September she had verbally committed to Kent.

Added is Erin Thames, a point guard from Hopewell High School in Huntersville, N.C., a suburb of Charlotte. She’s a player whose stock rose over the summer and was also recruited by Rhode Island, Boston College, Cleveland State and Wisconsin. On Twitter, her AAU coach calls her a “true pass-first point guard,” a “floor general,” a player “who has grown tremendously” since the end of last year’s high school season. (He promotes his players hard, but that’s what AAU coaches do to try to get them scholarships.)

Off Kent’s list is Kaily “Kai” Kaimikaua, a shooting guard from Liberty High School in Henderson, Nevada, a city 16 miles from Las Vegas. Players decommit for various reasons — a better offer, grades, just plain second thoughts. Best I can tell, Kaimikaua hasn’t signed with any other school though she’s tweeted like crazy about other players’ signing (including the signing of another KSU recruit). What I hear is that she just had second thoughts about going to college two-thirds of the way across the country.

KSU’s other signees are players who previously had announced their commitments:

KASEY TOLES, a 5-9 shooting guard who can also play point, from Sandy Creek High School in Tyrone, Georgia, about 25 miles from Atlanta. She’s the sister of KSU assistant coach Morgan Toles. Kasey was an all-regional and all-metro player who averaged 14 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists and and 2 steals last season on a team that had no seniors and went 9-16.

AMANDA SAPE, a 6-3, 210-pound center from Bloomfield Hills High School outside Detroit. She’s also an all-state shot putter. Sape averaged 15 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks last season on a team that was 14-7.

MONIQUE SMITH, 5-11 forward from Serra High School in San Diego. As a junior, she averaged 17.6 points, 13.3 rebounds, 6.7 steals and 2.7 assists on a team that went 20-10. She is a two-time all-section and all-league selection.

There’s more detail on those players in an earlier blog post. And here’s an interview with Starkey from September on his recruiting philosophy.

The group may be Kent State’s most national class ever. The only one I can think of that might come close is the first recruiting class of Bob Lindsay in 1989, which included players from Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio and New York.

Starkey has said that because Kent’s new set of coaches got such a late start, he had to “look everywhere.” Most of the signees were playing in AAU team tournaments this summer when Kent State first contacted them. (The late start came because most coaches today start making contact with potential recruits early in their junior years, often before. Starkey became head coach in April after Danny O’Banion’s contract wasn’t renewed.)

More on Thames, the point guard who was the last of KSU’s class to commit: I’ve seen her listed variously from 5-5 to 5-7 and about 125 pounds. Her statistics don’t knock you over — she averaged about 5 points, 2 rebounds and 2 steals in both her sophomore and junior years. Starkey said she came from a high school with three or four Division I prospects, so scoring and rebounding were spread around. The other teams who recruited her, though, are all power conference schools. Sometimes that’s the best way to tell the quality of a player. (Kaimikaua had similar statistics, averaging 8 points and 3 rebounds on the No. 3 team in Nevada last season.) Thames’ team had an 18-8 record last year.

Starkey said he didn’t expect to sign anyone else in the early period. But he did say he still had scholarships available and was continuing to recruit for 2017. There’s a late signing period for high school players in April. He also could add a transfer — including a post-graduate senior who would be eligible next year — after the 2016-17 season.

Here’s link to KSU web posting on the recruiting class. Here are photos, also from site. From left, players are Sape, Smith, Thames and Toles.


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