"Losing Alexis (Kendrick) and Sherill (Baker) both four-year starters for us was a concern,² Landers said. ³These signings address those concerns. I feel really comfortable looking into the future with these three folks taking the floor in red and black for us.²
Houts, a 5-6 point guard from Trenton, Ga., is rated as the nation¹s No. 24 overall prospect and No. 7 point guard by the All-Star Girls¹ Report and was named sixth-team All-American by Street & Smith¹s this fall. Houts has been a three-year starter for the Dade County High School Lady Wolverines, most recently leading her school to a 28-4 record and a runner-up finish in the 2005 Class AA State Tournament. Last season, Houts averaged 23.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 6.4 steals per game en route to being named the Georgia Class AA Player of the Year. She has been named an AAU 16-under All-American each of the past two summers while playing for the Georgia Metros Nike Elite Team.
³When people see Ashley Houts play, they¹re going to fall in love with her,² Landers said. ³She¹s a high-energy player. I think she could play three games back-to-back and finish the third game playing like she started the first one. Ashley defines her position. She is a point guard. She understands the point guard¹s responsibilities. She will direct a basketball team. I think during the summer that she outplayed the other two-three players who were mentioned alongside Ashley as the best point guard prospects in the nation.²
Marshall, a 6-1 wing from Savannah, Ga., is ranked as the No. 9 overall prospect and the No. 1 wing prospect by the All-Star Girls Report. Marshall is a standout at Beach High School where she has been a teammate of Lady Bulldog freshman Danielle Taylor the last three years. As a junior, Marshall averaged 18.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 3.0 steals and 2.0 blocks per game for the Lady Bulldogs, who finished the season 27-3 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Class AAAAA State Tournament. Last summer, Marshall participated in USA Basketball¹s Youth Development Festival where she averaged 7.2 points and 4.4 rebounds for the undefeated Gold Medal-winning Blue Team.
³One of our objectives was to get taller and athletic at the wing,² Landers said. ³In Christy Marshall, we¹ve certainly gotten those qualities and a lot more in the package. She¹s incredibly smooth and incredibly talented. Her abilities to attack the basket and creativeness when she arrives there are outstanding. She¹s a big wing that is very impressive in that she can shoot it, she can pick it up off the dribble and she can drive you all the way to the basket and finish. Both her individual talent and creativeness with her wide array of on-court skills are superb.²
Rhoden is a 5-8 combo guard from London, Ontario. She has been a member of the Canadian Junior National Team during the summers of 2004 and 2005, including competing in the FIBA 19-under World. Rhoden has led Team Ontario to Canadian National Championships in her age divisions during each of the past three summers. Rhoden also has been a standout performer at London Central Secondary School where she helped lead the Golden Ghosts to the Western Ontario Secondary School Athletic Association (WOSSAA) AAA Championship as a sophomore. The Golden Ghosts just completed their 2005 regular season schedule with an 8-1 record with Rhoden averaging 27.7 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals per game.
³Jaleesa is generally regarded as the top college prospect in Canada and for very good reason,² Landers said. ³I¹m excited about what the future holds for Jaleesa for a lot of reasons. Jaleesa wants to be the best basketball player that she can become and she works hard at that every day. Her versatility in terms of positions will be a blessing in that she can play any one of the three perimeter positions. Jaleesa has a great floor presence and plays with a great deal of enthusiasm that can be contagious with everyone she¹s playing with.²
The Georgia Lady Bulldogs have long been one of the premier women¹s basketball programs in the United States. The Lady Dogs have produced 15 top-10 national finishes during the last 23 seasons. Georgia has received invitations to compete in the NCAA Championships during 22 of the last 24 seasons, the second-best total of any school in the nation. The Lady Bulldogs have advanced to the NCAA Final Four five times and finished as national runners-up in both 1985 and 1996. Georgia also has been a leading supplier of players who have gone on to compete in professional women¹s basketball. All told, 16 former Lady Bulldogs have gone on to play in the WNBA, including Deanna ³Tweety² Nolan, a three-time All-Star and first-team All-WNBA performer in 2005.
Georgia has been ranked No. 5 in the pre-season coaches poll for the 2005-06 season. The Lady Bulldogs open the year this Sunday when they face Baylor, the defending national champion. That game will be televised on ESPN2 beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET.