News From Terre Haute, Indiana

November 28, 2012

VIDEO: ISU women add athleticism, experience with 2013 recruiting class

Two junior-college players, Big 12 transfer join Rhagen Smith

Craig Pearson
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — As a team stocked full of underclassmen continues to grow and gain some NCAA Division I women’s basketball seasoning, those players will blend with four recruits who will likely be ready to make a big impact for coach Teri Moren in 2013-14.

Sullivan native Rhagen Smith, daughter of former Sycamore basketball standout Maria (Stockberger) Smith, will be the only true freshman of the four. The 6-foot-2 forward is joined by 5-1 junior-college point guard Ricquia Jones, junior-college wing Jasmine Grier and Kansas State transfer Stephanie Wittman.

While Smith committed before his arrival, ISU’s new recruiting coordinator John Marcum helped bring in this class that the staff expects to continue to improve the Sycamores’ athleticism.

“Coach Marcum’s done a tremendous job and the rest of the staff. When you get them on campus, you’re all entertaining them as well as our players. Our kids are the best part of Indiana State as far as recruiting,” Moren said. “We’re all excited about the four new additions. There are some missing pieces that we don’t have. Very, very athletic. To get a kid like Rhagen Smith just down the street from us, a local kid. She was a junior All-Star last year. We’re hoping she’s an Indiana All-Star. We’re hoping to keep that string going.”

ISU will have to replace senior point guard Taylor Whitley. Marcum thinks the Sycamores have an answer with Jones and Wittman, who will be enrolled at ISU in January 2013, making her eligible to begin Missouri Valley Conference play next season.

“Ricquia’s one of the best point guards in junior college,” Marcum said. “All she’s ever done is win. Guards her tail off on the ball, doesn’t take any possessions off and has those intangible things you’re looking for in a point guard as far as leadership ability and vocal nature.”

Jones averaged 8 points, 4.3 assists and 3.1 steals as a freshman at Seward County Commnity College. She’s a native of Bellwood, Ill., just west of Chicago.

Moren expects her leadership and defense to be her biggest assetts.

“Ricquia is a dynamic point guard, so we’re hoping she can come in and fill some big shoes with Taylor graduating,” Moren said. “That’ll be key. She’s super fast and she’s dynamic, but what she has are intangibles, her leadership. She’s very, very vocal. She’ll be hard for people to get by, she’s very good defensively. She’ll step in and be one of the best [point guards] right away [in the Missouri Valley Conference].”

Wittman, a native of San Antonio, Texas, played in 35 games in two years at Kansas State, totaling just 24 points. But Marcum expects her to thrive in the Missouri Valley.

“Stephanie is really good in the open floor, strong body, Big 12 athlete, explosive off the floor, rim-level leaper. And looking forward to her, she was one of the best high school players in the country coming out of high school. She’ll be an instant-impact kid for us,” Marcum said.

“Wonderful athlete, and just going to add to our depth on the perimeter, she and Jasmine Grier both. We’re extremely glad they’ll be joining us.”

Grier, a 6-0 wing, was one of 40 players invited to the NJCAA Women’s Basketball Coaches Association All-Star Game this past summer.

“Jasmine is a high-character — basketball character and off-court character — kid and at 6-0 can score in a multitude of ways, can really shoot the basketball,” Marcum said. “She’s obviously one of the top 40 junior college players in the country. Wichita State was one of the main competitors we had. She had about 15 Division I offers.”

Marcum was impressed by what he saw of Smith this past summer in AAU.

“Rhagen is a blue-collar kid, a local kid who has some upside and toughness. Works hard and always is in great shape. Her size, her genetics and work ethic give her some upside we’re looking forward to develop,” Marcum said.

Smith is thrilled to be joining the program, which she views as being on the rise under Moren and the new staff.

“The way coach Moren has talked, they’re going to be great assets to the program. I’m realy excited to get to meet them and play with them all,” Smith said. “I feel like this year the team is so young [that] it may be a rebuilding year. But it’s only going to go up from here. She’s getting a lot of good players and people surrounding the program.”

Smith played with many of the current players this past summer in open gym.

“I fit in real well, feel very comfortable around the girls. That’s very exciting for me,” Smith said.