CORAL GABLES, Fla. – University of Miami head women’s basketball coach Katie Meier announced Wednesday the signing of five top-125 players to National Letters of Intent.
One of the best classes in program history, the group features Endia Banks, Mykea Gray, Kelsey Marshall, Taylor Mason and Rebecca Ripley, all of whom are ranked in the top 25 at their respective positions.
Three of Miami’s signees are consensus top-90 recruits and the class is ranked in the top 15 nationally by both ProspectsNation.com and espnW HoopGurlz.
“The staff did a great job and I am very proud of their efforts,” Meier said. “Assistant coach Tia Jackson led the efforts and put together a stellar University of Miami recruiting class. The success that we have had in the last three years combined with our up-tempo style entices players to come to Miami. Our fans enjoy our pace of play and they are going to enjoy this class because they can really go.”
Banks, a 5-foot-9-inch guard from Duluth, Ga., is rated as a four-star prospect by ProspectsNation.com, which ranks her as the No. 53 player in the nation, including the No. 13 guard. espnW HoopGurlz lists Banks as a three-star prospect and the No. 68 guard in her class.
A lefty slasher with impressive athleticism, Banks posted 13.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 2.4 steals and 1.3 blocks per game as a junior at Duluth High School. Banks’ play earned her Second Team All-Region 7-AAAAAA accolades from the league’s coaches.
“Endia is just electric in the open court,” Meier said. “She can score off the bounce. She hunts shots and is a great rebounding guard, as well. So, she creates a lot in transition, which fits very well into our system. She’s also one of the tougher defenders in the nation.”
A 5-foot-6-inch guard from Upper Marlboro, Md., Gray is a four-star prospect and top-70 recruit according to both ProspectsNation.com and espnW HoopGurlz. The former lists her at No. 60 in the country and No. 16 among point guards, while the latter rate her No. 70 nationally and No. 13 among point guards.
Gray, who attends SHABACH! Christian Academy Homeschool and plays at National Christian Academy, was named the 2015-16 Gatorade State Player of the Year in Maryland. She led her team to a 31-0 record while averaging 18.1 points, 4.2 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game, as well as excelled on the AAU circuit with one of the country’s elite teams.
“Mykea is a speedy, downhill point guard who wreaks havoc on the other team’s defense. She is just a very tough assignment defensively,” Meier said. “She can shoot the three and beat you off the dribble. She is exciting and takes on contact. She’s going to remind some of the Hurricane fans of Renee Taylor or Shane Larkin. She is just a water bug on the defensive end and can really pressure the ball which will help us continue our up-tempo style.”
Hailing from nearby Davie, Fla., Marshall is a consensus four-star, top-90 prospect in the class of 2017. espnW HoopGurlz ranks the 5-foot-9-inch guard No. 81 nationally and No. 23 at the guard position, while ProspectsNation.com tabs her No. 90 overall and No. 20 among guards.
As a junior, Marshall led Miami Country Day School to a 26-6 record and its third consecutive state title, notching a game-high 20 points to go along with seven rebounds in the final. A year earlier, Marshall helped the Spartans finish 32-2 and win the DICK’S Nationals championship, earning the all-tournament team honors after pouring in 28 points in the semifinals.
“Kelsey is a heady, high IQ player who has won many championships. She plays for one of the nation’s best high school programs and one of the nation’s best AAU programs,” Meier said. “Kelsey is a triple-threat player, a guard who can swing through two or three positions and has refined her 3-point shooting in the past year. She is a remarkable recruit for us, and we are happy to add local talent to our team. She is one of the top players ever to come out of South Florida and she is coming to Miami.”
A guard from Decatur, Ga., the 5-foot-9-inch Mason is Miami’s third consensus four-star, top-90 recruit. She checks in at No. 66 on espnW HoopGurlz’s list, including ranking No. 20 among guards, and is the No. 82 player and No. 18 guard in ProspectsNation.com’s rankings.
Mason averaged 10.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game as a junior, garnering Second Team All-County recognition from the Gwinnett Daily Post after aiding Norcross High School to a regional title. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution tabbed Mason, who won the 2016 Nike Nationals championship on the AAU circuit, as both a Second Team All-Gwinnett pick and a Class AAAAAA all-state honorable mention.
“Taylor is a strong, ball-control guard who can play the point guard and she can go straight to the small forward. She can post up, and she’s a big guard who uses her strength very well,” Meier said. “She flourishes when running the team in late-game situations and putting everybody where they need to go. Fierce and powerful, she punishes opponents with her strength and her physicality. She plays a clean game of basketball and has great leadership skills, as well. Taylor was an outstanding recruit for us.”
Meier’s first Miami recruit out of New England, Ripley is a 6-foot wing/forward who hails from Stratham, N.H. ProspectsNation.com considers her a four-star recruit, the No. 125 player in the country and the No. 21 wing, while espnW HoopGurlz lists her as a three-star prospect and No. 63 at her position.
Ripley averaged a double-double last year, posting 15.2 points and 10.5 rebounds to go along with 2.0 assists and 1.9 assists per game, en route to winning 2015-16 Gatorade State Player of the Year. Versatile enough to play every position on the floor at the high school level, Ripley led New Hampton School to a 21-7 record and a berth in the conference semifinals last year.
“Rebecca can fill in any spot on the court and we are delighted by her adaptability,” Meier said. “She has great size for the forward position and can play three or four. She can rebound, yet she can also stroke the three from the trail position.”
No. 14/20 Miami will begin the 2016-17 season at the Kentucky Classic in Lexington, Ky. The Hurricanes will face No. 19/19 Kentucky Friday at 7 p.m., and then play Albany two days later at the same time.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
More from Katie Meier: “There are many points and many assists and much playing time graduating from this program. So, it was imperative that we signed a class of guards who can run our multiple-guard system and be threatening and attacking and keep our pace of play up. I think that we answered those concerns with this class.”
Keil Moore, ProspectsNation.com: “With their 2017 class, Miami coach Katie Meier and her staff have added athleticism and playmaking to their backcourt positions. When taking into account the quality of the individual recruits on their own and then their ability to mesh well as a whole, our Prospects Nation staff has ranked the Hurricanes recruiting class as the No. 14-ranked class in the country. During her time in Coral Gables, Meier has developed her University of Miami teams as tough, hard-nosed and athletic. This recruiting class embodies the identity that Meier and her staff have worked to create.”
Dan Olson, espnW HoopGurlz & Collegiate Girls Basketball Report: “The University of Miami signed five, including four guards, for the class of 2017, signing three espnW Top-100 prospects. Miami ranks No. 4 among programs in the Atlantic Coast Conference and No. 15 nationally by espnW. The Canes addressed the back court by identifying players with versatility. Signees that can stretch the defense from deep (Rebecca Ripley), a physical, versatile guard (Taylor Mason), an athletic left-handed guard with potential BCS impact (Endia Banks), a proven shooting guard with deep range (Kelsey Marshall) and an explosive game manager with the ability to change tempo, break down defenses and change the complexion of a game (Mykea Gray).”Bret McCormick, ASGR Basketball: “Miami picked up five prospects ranked from 60-100. Presently, [the Hurricanes] have the No. 6 class in the ACC. They have four guards and one forward. The Canes will be getting major firepower. All five can really score the basketball at all three levels. They can all connect from beyond the 3-point arc. This group will enable Miami to keep running-and-gunning and scoring 80-to-90 points per game."