I spoke today with Ron Newquist, Bria Gaines’ high school coach at Bloom Township (Ill.) and AAU coach with the Illinois Wolverines.
Gaines, a 6-foot-2 center, verbally committed Sunday to Western Kentucky after visiting the school over the weekend.
Newquist hasn’t talked to Gaines directly since her visit, he said, but felt comfortable confirming that she has verbally committed.
Newquist said he was a little surprised that Gaines went ahead and gave her verbal commitment because she was scheduled to take a few other visits, but on the other hand, he said he wasn’t that surprised because of the relationship Gaines has with WKU coach Michelle Clark-Heard.
His full comments are below:
What kind of player is Bria Gaines?
“She’s got a great personality. She’s a relentless worker. She has a great attitude and good leadership qualities. She’s really a coach’s dream, because no matter how hard you push her – and I need to be clear, I’m not an easy coach to play for because I push my players to the limits. Bria has always answered the call.”
On Gaines’ progress. The center averaged eight points and four rebounds as a sophomore, then 27 points and 16 rebounds as a junior:
“The summer after that, we worked relentlessly in the gym, and as a junior she averaged 27 points and 16 rebounds a game. It all came together for her. They’re really getting a good player. They’re getting a diamond in the rough.”
On what WKU told Gaines about team’s need for post players. Newquist said the Lady Toppers and Eastern Michigan both pitched immediate playing time:
“They both said, ‘Look, we have small teams. We need a back-to-the-basket player. We need someone that can score inside. We need someone that can make a layup, for Christ’s sake – someone that can really finish.’ They let her know there’s a wide-open opportunity and she was a main target for them at that position, and I know that carried a lot of weight with her, because what kid doesn’t want to be told that?”
On what Newquist found through his own research about current state of WKU team:
“I look at rosters, I see who they’re recruiting, I talk to other coaches. But Western Kentucky really does need a back-to-the-basket player. The door is wide open, and they’ve told her she can be a major contributor if that’s what she’s able to come in and do.”
On impressions of Heard. Newquist said he first met Heard last year while she was recruiting another of his players:
“I always liked her and her demeanor the floor. She’s got a great personality. She’s very easy talking to me about things, and I know Bria had told me she hit it off with her right off the bat. With all the coaches she had talked to, she felt most comfortable talking to coach Heard. For girls, that’s huge. It doesn’t always resonate with the guys, but typically for girls, that huge in the recruitment.”