The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports Columns

June 19, 2014

Courrier: Recruits seems to like Mavericks' sales pitch

What is it about the Minnesota State women's basketball program that makes it so attractive to recruits, especially early in the process?

This week, Mankato West junior Lexi Schoper made a verbal commitment to the Mavericks, something rare for a player with two seasons of high-school basketball still ahead. It takes a talented player who's completely sold on the program, eager to secure her future without regard to which programs might come calling in the next two years.

Last season, the Mavericks had five players make verbal commitments early in the summer, including Mankato East's Claire Ziegler. In each case, Ziegler, Madi Agey, Morgan Neuendorf, Madison Lee and Claire Jordan jumped early at the chance to play at Minnesota State instead of waiting to see what other opportunities might come up.

These recruits either connect early with the coaching staff or returning players or they see something they like in the style of play. The Mavericks' younger, female coaching staff seems to be a common denominator in these recruits' decision-making, and the fast-paced, 3-point shooting style certainly appeals to a lot of high-schoolers.

The coaches and players appear to be having fun during games, and since they win more than they lose, the recruiting process gets a boost.

Landing Ziegler and Schoper makes for good community relations, and while no college basketball program should recruit a player simply because they're local, it's a good combination when the talented ones stay close to home. Both Ziegler and Schoper have a good chance to contribute at Minnesota State.

It remains to be seen how the next group of freshmen will do at the Division II level, but coach Emilee Thiesse and her staff's first recruiting class that included Tyra Johnson and Sam Delzotto seems to hold a lot of potential.

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