The Free Press, Mankato, MN

April 16, 2013

For Tyra Johnson, MSU is the place to be

By Chad Courrier
The Free Press

MANKATO — Tyra Johnson visited Winona State, South Dakota State and Jacksonville State in Alabama.

And each time she got back from one of her recruiting stops, she compared that university and women's basketball program to Minnesota State, which she visited in February.

On Monday, the Eastview High School senior decided that in each case, Minnesota State was the best option, and today, she'll be on campus to sign her letter of intent to play basketball here.

"I just liked everything about (Minnesota State)," said Johnson, the granddaughter of former Mankato East boys basketball coach Dave Johnson. "It's close to home, which is really important."

Johnson, a 6-foot-1 forward/center, averaged 16.2 points and 4.4 rebounds last season, helping Eastview make its second straight trip to the Class AAAA tournament, finishing third. She also had 61 assists, 57 steals and 55 blocked shots.

She shot 51 percent from the field, but made 63 3-pointers, shooting 55 percent from long range.

"The biggest thing about Tyra is her versatility," said Eastview coach Melissa Guebert, who played college basketball at Augustana. "She can play inside or outside. She's a very accurate shooter."

Johnson said she attended a Minnesota State game late in the season and was impressed by how the team worked together. An up-tempo offense, which allows all of the players to get the ball on the perimeter, is similar to the offense at Eastview, and Johnson feels like she'll fit in well.

"It's really exciting to make the decision," she said. "It's a big relief, and I'm glad it's over."

Sources said that McKenzie Hoelmenn, a 6-2 center, is transferring to Minnesota State from Northern Illinois. The sophomore, who played at Lakeville North, averaged 2.5 points and 2.3 rebounds in 14 minutes per game last season. She'll have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

NCAA rules prohibit Minnesota State coach Emilee Thiesse from talking about high-school players until she's received a signed letter of intent or transfers until they are enrolled and arrive at campus.

The Mavericks (26-6) reached the region semifinals last season and are losing five players from that team: guards Kathleen Reynolds and Casey Christian, forwards Steffaney Thomas and Jameila Hudnell and center Alyssa Van Klei.

Freshman guard Britney Scherber of Bloomington Jefferson transferred to Minnesota State from Bradley at semester break and practiced with the team during the second semester. The Mavericks also signed guards Samantha Delzotto of Eagan and Sidni Trotter of Omaha, Neb., during the fall signing period.