Early signing period begins Wednesday – a look at the Lady Tops’ commits

The November early signing period begins tomorrow (Wednesday, Nov. 13), and the Western Kentucky women’s basketball team is expected to pick up four official signees.

Each of WKU’s 2014 verbal commits – Shalika Smith, Ivy Brown, Jaiveonna Norris and Tashia Brown – has confirmed to me that they plan to sign this month.

Smith and Norris have confirmed they will sign Wednesday, and LaRue County coach Travis Wootton said Ivy Brown will sign at 2:45 p.m. Thursday.

Here’s a refresher course on each of the commits:

SHALIKA SMITH
Glasgow High School
6-1 center

Smith verbally committed to WKU on July 30.

She averaged 14.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game as a junior. She shot 67.9 percent from the field, which ranked first in the state.

Smith played her AAU basketball for Kentucky Premier and was coached by former WKU coach Mary Taylor Cowles. She said she chose the Lady Tops because of the bond between the players and coach Michelle Clark-Heard’s loyalty in the recruiting process.

She also considered Illinois State, Coastal Carolina, Austin Peay, Norfolk State and Georgetown College.

What her coach is saying: “She’s a rare combination of size and athleticism. She’s very strong, she can score in a variety of ways, she’s very active on the glass and she runs the floor well. I think anytime you can get that combination, that’s something that really translates to the next level. She didn’t start playing basketball until she was in seventh grade, so I think her best basketball is still ahead of her. She’s got a very high ceiling.” – Justin Stinson, Glasgow coach

IVY BROWN
LaRue County High School
6-2 guard

Brown verbally committed to WKU on Sept. 4.

She averaged 22.9 points and 10 rebounds per game as a junior for the Lady Hawks, shooting 50.2 percent from the field and 35.5 percent from 3-point range. She’s widely considered to be one of the front-runners for the 2014 Kentucky Miss Basketball Award.

Brown said she chose WKU over Middle Tennessee, Kentucky and Tennessee Tech. She also played AAU for Kentucky Premier, and ESPN gives her a 90 scouting grade.

She said she chose the Lady Tops because she was comfortable on her visit and because instead of telling Brown what she wanted to hear, Heard  “told me what she thought was best for me.”

What her coach is saying: “She can do a little bit of everything. She can shoot the 3, she can post it up, she handles it pretty well and defensively, she’s already our all-time steals leader.” – Travis Wootton, LaRue County coach

JAIVEONNA NORRIS
Homewood-Flossmoor High School (Flossmoor, Ill.)
6-foot forward

Norris verbally committed to WKU on Aug. 9.

Norris averaged 10.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game as a junior, according to the Times of Northwest Indiana. She played mere minutes from 2013 WKU signee Bria Gaines, who played her high school ball at Bloom Township in Chicago Heights, Ill.

She was also recruited by Alabama A&M, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Stetson and Florida Atlantic. She played AAU for the Mac Irvin Lady Fire.

What her coach is saying: “She’s probably a four – a post player who can play with her back to the basket and face up. She can shoot the 3 and get to the basket.” – Corry Irvin, Lady Fire AAU coach

TASHIA BROWN

Lowndes High School (Valdosta, Ga.)

6-1 forward

Brown verbally committed to WKU on Sept. 16.

She averaged 22 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks per game as a junior for the Vikettes (16-10), according to the Valdosta (Ga.) Daily Times. She was named second team all-state by the Georgia Sportswriters Association.

Brown played AAU for the Southeastern Lady Blazers. The left-handed wing also had interest from Auburn, Kennesaw State, Clemson, Florida State, Mercer, UAB and Louisiana Tech.

What her coach is saying: “She’s big-time. She was under the radar, and she blew up during the summer. She’s a prolific scorer and can score in many ways. Rangy, a left-hander and one of her best attributes is her passing.” – Joe Foster, Lady Blazers AAU coach

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