Three high school seniors are expected to sign Kent State letters of intent Wednesday, the first day of the NCAA’s early signing period. They are:
- Katie Shumate, a 5-11 guard who averaged 13.8 ponts a game last year for Newark (Ohio) High School. Newark went 25-2 last season and was ranked No. 1 in Division I for much of the season. Shumate was second-team all state last season and first team as a sophomore. She was rated a three-star recruit by ESPN, whose scouting report described her as an “agile off-guard executes in half-court game. Reads the defense, delivers off the dribble to the arc, savvy.” Her father, J.R. Shumate, has been head girls coach of the powerhouse program at Newark for 15 years.
- Clare Kelly, a 5-8 guard from Olmsted Falls, averaged 12.3 points a game last season and 19 as a sophomore. She has reputation as one of best three-point shooters in Ohio. Kelly was third-team all state last season, second team as a sophomore. She played on the same AAU team as current freshman Annie Pavlansky and verbally committed to Kent State 14 months ago.
- Nila Blackford, a 6-1 forward from Louisville, Kentucky, who averaged 13.2 points a and 8.7 rebounds a game for Dupont Manual High School, a consistent power in Kentucky basketball. She was rated the second-best power forward in Kentucky prior to her junior year by one Kentucky recruiting service. When Blackford committed verbally to Kent State, Starkey tweeted a meme of a coach jumping it and down excitedly with the message “we just got a big time commit!!! #BOOM.” I’ve followed the coach on Twitter since 2016. He had never done anything like that before. (Coaches aren’t allowed to mention recruits by name until they’ve signed.)