WBB: Gerlich announces Fall signing class
Feb. 7, 2014
ARLINGTON, Texas – UT Arlington coach Krista Gerlich announced a five-member recruiting class, which joined with the women's basketball program during the Fall 2013 Signing Period. Joining the Mavericks for the 2014-15 season will be scholarship student-athletes Artavia Ford, Cierra Johnson, Rebekah VanDijk and Lashanda Green, and walk-on Maggie Lockwood. Green is a junior-college transfer.
"We're trying to build a foundation and it starts with those four-year program players," Gerlich said. "This is a great start for our first signing class, especially the quality that we got. I could not be more excited about this class."
Ford, a 6-3 post from Colleyville (Texas) Heritage High School, earned first-team All-District 6-5A honors for the 2012-13 season. She was the district Newcomer of the Year and first-team all-district in 2011-12. She is averaging 15.8 points per game, 6.7 rebounds and 3 blocks as a senior.
"Artavia is a huge sign for us. She has a lot of potential," Gerlich said. "Very athletic, very long, lots of length with her arms. She's very mobile and agile. She can run the floor. She can rebound. She's a great high-post passer and has a 9-15-foot jumper, so for our system, she's really going to do a nice job and we don't even have to play her at the five. She just has a lot of skill that has yet to be developed, so she can be a game changer.
Johnson is a 5-9 guard from L.D. Bell High School in Hurst, Texas. She was a first-team All-District 6-5A member last season, the district Defensive Player of the Year and a McDonald's All-American nominee this season. Johnson averaged 15.6 points, 5.7 steals, 3.9 assists and 3.5 rebounds as a junior. She's also been on the academic all-district team in each of her first three seasons in high school.
"I'm super excited about Cierra because I think that she has so much potential," Gerlich said. "She's a defensive stopper, someone who will be able to slow the basketball down for us. We'll be able to put her on the opponent's best offensive guard. She can really see the floor, and has had to play point guard for her team this year and has done a really good job leading their fastbreak, their transition and she does a really good job of handling the pressure. She can throw the ball the length of the floor on a dime, so that's really nice to have that.
"She's got a nice shot. She scores a lot for her team, but a lot of that is off of defensive stuff. She has offensive capability; she just hasn't had to play that role. She's going to be a sleeper. I think we were really fortunate to get her and I don't think all the other colleges really realize what we got in her, so I'm really excited about that."
VanDijk is a 6-5 post from Nazareth (Texas) High School. She earned district MVP honors in each of her first three seasons in high school, along with all-state team recognition in 2012-13. VanDijk has averaged 19.3 points, 12.3 rebounds and 4.0 blocks in high school.
"Rebekah is a kid that's really going to develop for us. She's going to have to get used to the speed of the game and the strength of the game because she's been playing 1-A ball," Gerlich said. "She's got great hands. She's got a great touch on the ball. She keeps the ball high, better than any high school kid I've ever seen that's that big. She can shoot the 3. She doesn't very much, but when she does it looks great and it goes in quite a bit, so she'll be able to stretch the defense for us on the high post."
Green is a 5-7 point guard from McAlester (Oklahoma) High School who played two years at Murray State College. The OCA and OGBCA all-state selection earned four letters in basketball, three in softball and two in track in high school. She was also on the Indian all-state team, a McDonald's All-American nominee and the 2010 state MVP. He will enter UT Arlington as a junior.
"She's a lefty point guard, which I love in point guards," Gerlich said. "She sees the floor and can handle the ball really well, and she can shoot it when she's open. She gets the ball to her teammates in scoring position, which I really love. The thing that sets her apart from everyone else is her mentality and her competitiveness. She really understands the game and is going to be an extension of me out on the court."