Nov. 20, 2013
STORRS, Conn. - The University of Connecticut women's basketball team has received National Letters of Intent from four student-athletes in the early signing period, as announced by head coach Geno Auriemma on Wednesday. Sadie Edwards, Courtney Ekmark, Kia Nurse and Gabby Williams will all join the Huskies for the start of the 2014-15 season.
"Recruiting is kind of funny," Auriemma said during Tuesday's media availability session at Gampel Pavilion. "Ideally, when you're trying to put together a recruiting class, you're looking for things that you're going to need that are going to help you sustain things for a four-year period. You're always thinking ahead four years. With Caroline (Doty), Kelly (Faris), Bria (Hartley), Kaleena (Mosqueda-Lewis), and Brianna Banks, in a three-year period that's five guards that are no longer going to be playing at Connecticut.
"So I think getting the players that we got is perfect for us because it addresses an immediate need that we have. Don't get me wrong. I think there are other needs. But the way they play, that group complements what we do and it complements each other. Not one of those players is identical to the other, which we try to stay away from. We try to stay away from recruiting players that are similar. That's when you run into problems."
Sadie Edwards | Guard | 5-10 | Meriden, Conn. | Blair Academy
Competed for Blair Academy in Blairstown Township, N.J during her junior year ... Led Blair to a 21-3 record and a third-straight New Jersey Prep A State Title in 2012-13 ... Scored 12 points in a 59-43 victory over Lawrenceville in the Final ... Honored as a Newark Star Ledger Prep Player of the Year in 2012-13 while also being selected to the All-Mid-Atlantic Prep League and voted onto the New Jersey Prep A All-State squad ... Played for Nazareth High School in New York City during her sophomore year, helping the Lady Kingsmen win the CHSAA Class AA State Championship ... Scored 19 points in the semifinal win over St. John the Baptist and poured in 21 in the title-clinching win over Moore Catholic ... Helped the Tigers reach the Class LL State Tournament Championship Game as a freshman ... Scored nine points in a 50-47 loss to Norwich Free Academy in the title game.
Courtney Ekmark | Guard | 6-0 | Phoenix, Ariz. | St. Mary's High School
Played three years at St. Mary's High School in Phoenix, leading the Knights to an 87-3 record that included a 49-game winning streak, three straight Division I State Titles, a No. 1 ranking in the USA Today Super 25 in 2012 and a No. 2 ranking in 2013 ... Averaged 19.6 points, five rebounds and four steals in being named Arizona's Gatorade Player of the Year. In the 2013 state tournament, she broke her nose in the first quarter of the first game of the tourney but still went on to average 21.5 points in four wins en route to the title. In the 49-37 championship game win over Pinnacle, she had a game high 14 points, becoming the first Arizona player to be the top scorer in three consecutive championship games.
Was coached by her father Curtis, a former player at Marquette, during her high school career. Also played tennis at St. Mary's and was the Knights' No. 1 singles player. Was ranked the No. 1 student in St. Mary's Class of 2014, but has opted to be home-schooled in 2013-14 to complete the requirements for her diploma.
Kia Nurse | Guard | 6-0 |Hamilton, Ontario | St. Thomas Moore High School
Led St. Thomas Moore to gold at the AAAA OFSAA Championship in 2012 and 2013 ... Also won five-straight Provincial Championships with her Transway team and two National Championships with Team Ontario ... Selected as the Tournament MVP on both occasions ... Team finished third in the World Qualifiers and also took third in the World Championships with Team Canada ... Won two Hazel Minor Awards and two Player of the Year Honors for Basketball Ontario ... Selected as the St. Thomas Moore Athlete of the Year during her freshman and sophomore years and was honored as her soccer team's MVP in 2012 ... Starred on Team Canada's FIBA Americas U16 Championships in 2011 and the U17 World Championships in 2012 ... Additionally, Nurse was averaged 10.0 points per game as Team Canada finished second in the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship, helping Team Canada clinch a spot in the World Championship in 2014.
Gabby Williams | Guard | 5-11 | Sparks, Nevada | Reed High School
A three-year starter in basketball for Reed High in Sparks. As a sophomore averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds, and seven steals per game in leading Reed to the Class 4A state title ... Had 15 points, 14 rebounds, and six assists in a semifinal win over Foothill, then had 24 points, four rebounds, and four assists in the championship game win over Reno ... Was named the Las Vegas Review-Journal Class 4A state Player of the Year ... As a junior was averaging 30 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, and seven blocked shots per game when she suffered a completely torn anterior cruciate ligament and partially-torn meniscus in her right knee on Jan. 19 just 30-seconds into a game against rival Reno High. Had season-ending surgery Feb. 11 and was cleared to return to full basketball activity Oct. 10.
In track and field she is a two-time Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year (2011 and 2012). In the state championship meet as a freshman she won the high jump, was second 100-meter hurdles, third in the 300-meter hurdles, and ran the second leg of the second-place 4x400-meter relay team ... As a sophomore, she won three individual state championships -- the 100-meter hurdles in a time of 14.11 seconds, the 300 -meter hurdles in 42.86 seconds, and the high jump with a leap of 5'11" ... At age 15, she was the youngest competitor in the 2012 United States Olympic Track & Field Trials held in Eugene, Ore. and cleared 6'2.25" -- the sixth-best ever for a high school athlete and tying Amy Acuff's 21-year-old top mark for a sophomore ... Finished fifth in a field that included five-time national champion and world silver medalist Chaunte Lowe, the highest collegiate jumper ever in Brigetta Barrett, and five-time Olympian Acuff.