Nov. 9, 2011
Signees (L-R): Jonquel Jones, Danaejah Grant, Kayla Montgomery, Aisha Turner, Nyilah Jamison-Myers
Head Coach Itoro Colemanput the finishing touches on the 2012 women's basketball recruiting class, and it is a clear indicator of the direction of the program. Clemson's five-member class of Jonquel Jones, Danaejah Grant, Kayla Montgomery, Nyilah Jamison-Myers, and Aisha Turner is one of the deepest and most talented in school history. Each member of the group signed a Letter of Intent on the first day of the early signing period, beginning Nov. 9.
"I am very excited about the 2012 recruiting class," said Coleman, who is in her second season at Clemson. "We met every need with this group and were able to do so with some very talented players that will be able to come in and contribute right away. However, like any year, playing time will have to be earned in practice. This is a skilled group that has great character. They project well looking to the future."
Recruiting Coordinator Yolett McPhee-McCuinoversaw the effort and has emerged as one of the top recruiters in the nation with her second top-30 class in as many seasons with Clemson.
Classes in the past have focused on depth or talent. This class, however, fills both of those needs, plus a whole lot more. All five of the players are four-star prospects according to ESPN Hoopgurlz, and each holds a rating of 91 or higher on Hoopgurlz' 100-point evaluation scale. The Tigers will get immediate shots in the arm at every position, in what ESPN says could eventually become a "complete starting five from the 2012 class alone."
Jonquel Jones (Riverdale Baptist; Upper Marlboro, MD) is the highest-rated signee. The native of the Bahamas is 6-foot-2 and can play anywhere from the point to power forward. The ultra-athletic player can shoot the jumper, rebound, block shots, has great handles, and has been rumored to dunk on more than one occasion. Jones has already requested entry into next year's Rock the `John Dunk Contest. Jones is ranked 36th overall in the class, and is listed as the 7th-best forward in the nation.
"Jonquel is one of the hardest workers that I know at her age," said Coleman. "She loves the game of basketball and is committed to the vision in place here at Clemson. She's versatile and athletic on both ends of the floor. She will make an immediate impact to the program once she steps foot on campus."
Grant (5-9, Piscataway HS; Piscataway, NJ) chose Clemson over just about every school in the country. The slasher-scorer has put together one of the most prolific careers in state history. She is ranked as the 64th-best player in the nation regardless of position, and the 26th-best guard. She can play at the point or shooting guard spots, and has a dynamic personality that might remind some of Itoro Umoh's playing days.
"Danaejah is a strong guard that can play the 1 or 2 position," said Coleman about the New Jersey native. "She's a natural rebounder and has the ability to score whenever she wants. Her biggest attribute will be her leadership on and off the court.
Kayla Montgomery (6-4; McEachern HS; Powder Springs, GA) will be a centerpiece for the unit offensively and defensively. She has tremendous length and athleticism, and has a college-ready body. Montgomery is listed as the 12th-best post prospect by ESPN Hoopgurlz, and has played in the North-South Game, Georgia All-star games, and various other showcases.
"Kayla is a versatile post player that defends, runs the floor, and can also shoot the perimeter shot," said Coleman. "We expect Kayla to make an impact immediately as she adds depth to our front court. Kayla has not even scratched her full potential as a player yet."
Jamison-Myers (6-3; Orangeburg, SC; Orangeburg Wilkinson HS) is another athletic post player that will join the mix. She is a hard-working athlete who can impact the game on both ends of the floor. She was actually the first public commitment of the class, and has a strong academic background as well. She is ranked as the 17th-best post prospect in the 2012 class as well, giving Clemson three of the top 20 prospects at the position nationally.
"Nyilah is a diamond in the rough," said Coleman of the South Carolina native, the Lady Tigers' only scholarship player form the state. "She's a hard worker and a great defender. Her athleticism on the defensive end is her strength right now, but with time will be a threat on both ends of the floor."
Turner (5-7; College Park, GA; Westlake HS) is a lightning-quick point guard from Atlanta. Turner impressed on the trail with her quickness and agility, and her ability to find creases and distribute will make her an immediate weapon in Coleman's up-tempo style. She is ranked as the 23rd-best point guard prospect in the nation, and will be the third guard from Georgia on the team (Chancie Dunn, Nikki Dixon).
"Aisha is a competitor and a great on-ball defender," said Coleman of Turner. "She has great court vision and knows how to get the right people the ball when needed. "
All told, the class is one of the most complete across the nation and certainly at Clemson. Entering the 2012-13 season, when this group gets on campus, the Lady Tigers will have no seniors, just two juniors, five sophomores, and five freshmen. That means this class will see the floor early and often, and is just the next step that the program is taking in the direction of making history.