With the signing of a five-star wing player on Sunday night, Tennessee women’s basketball class earned the top-ranked recruiting class of 2017. The signing of Rennia Davis rounded out a talented signing class for coach Holly Warlick, the highest-rated group in her five years at the helm of the Lady Vols.
The last time the Lady Vols brought in a top-ranked signing class was in 2008. That year, Tennessee signed six players, including three top-10 players in Glory Johnson, Amber Gray and Shekinna Strickland. The four players in the 2017 signing class include Evina Westbrook, Anastasia Hayes, Kasi Kushlitah and Davis.
“We’ve worked really, really hard on this class,” Warlick said in a release from UTsports.com. “I’m really pleased because I think they are really going to complement the returning players on our team.
The four signees bring much-needed size to the Lady Vols, with three of them standing at 6-foot or taller. Each of them also bring specific edges to the offensive side of the ball in terms of leadership and driving in for interior play.
Rennia Davis/Wing/ Jacksonville, FL
Rankings: ProspectsNation.com: No. 9 / espnW HoopGurlz Top 100: No. 12 (No. 3 Wing, five-star recruit)
Davis comes to the Lady Vols as a dynamic force who can be used in various facets of the game. The 6-foot-2 brings power to the offense in terms of shooting and working the boards. Last season, she averaged 20.3 points with 10.4 rebounds, en route to a state title for Ribault High School. She’s strong with scoring from beyond the arch and also has the ability to drive in to the paint to score.
“She is a great, great scorer, and she’s an aggressive rebounder,” Warlick said. “She’s long and lanky and can really play on the defensive end.”
Evina Westbrook/Guard/Salem, OR
Rankings: All-Star Girls Report: No. 1 / ProspectsNation.com: No. 2 / espnW HoopGurlz Top 100: No. 2 (No. 1 guard, five-star prospect)
In 86 games at South Salem High School, Westbrook has totaled 1,465 points and has compiled over 400 rebounds, assists, and steals. She is commended for being a player with all-around strength on the court. The 2016 Oregon Gatorade Player of the Year is able to get the ball moving around the court and takes charge of the game as an influential leader on both sides of the ball.
“She has a great court awareness and vision and is an incredible passer,” Warlick said. “I also love her will to win and her willingness to spend extra time in the gym constantly working to improve.”
Anastasia Hayes/Point Guard/Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Rankings: ProspectsNation.com: No. 6 (No. 2 point guard) / espnW HoopGurlz Top 100: No. 9 (No. 5 point guard, five-star recruit)
Hayes was the first commit of the 2017 Lady Vols’ class back on Sept. 25. As a junior, she averaged 20.6 points with 5.7 rebounds and 4.6 assists for Riverdale High School, the alma mater of current Lady Vol Alexa Middleton. She has proven that she is a game-changer when put into an uptempo game, being able to handle the ball with great focus. Like Westbrook, she brings a confident sense of leadership to the court and is focused on scoring wherever possible.
“She really focuses on her team, and I believe she is a do-it-all kind of player,” Warlick said. “If you want something done, she gets it done.”
Kasi Kushkituah/Post/Austell, GA
Rankings: All-Star Girls Report: No. 9 / ProspectsNation.com: No. 11 / espnW HoopGurlz Top 100: No. 55 (No. 6 post, four-star prospect)
The St. Francis High School senior has led her high school to state championships in back-to-back seasons. She comes into her senior season being viewed as one of the strong post players in the nation, coming off of a junior campaign where she averaged 10.6 points with 8.2 rebounds while shooting around 53-percent from the field. While she still has improvements to make in terms of interior play, Kushkituah is a key player on the defensive end, causing trouble for teams when it comes to scoring due to her ability to block shots.
“She possesses a tremendous work ethic and is going to provide more stability in the post for us,” Warlick said. ” Kasi’s obviously a terrific player already, but we believe she’s only scratched the surface on how great she can be.”
Edited by David Bradford
Featured image by Randy Sartin, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics
Danielle is a senior studying Journalism and Electronic Media. Before coming to UT, she was a student intern for 106.3 ESPN Radio where she assisted in the broadcasts and productions of Pigeon Forge High School football and basketball. She is also a former sports correspondent for The Mountain Press and worked as a promotions assistant for the Tennessee Smokies. If she's not busy with the Triple Play podcast or writing sports stories, you'll most likely find her at St. John XXIII Catholic Center on campus or watching sports somewhere while she sips on an Arnold Palmer. Follow her on Twitter: @Dani_Marie_15