After closing out regular season with three-consecutive wins, Eastern looks to keep it rolling against a familiar postseason opponent
• 2013 BIG SKY CONFERENCE WOMEN'S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP •
For the third time in four years, the Eastern Washington University women’s basketball team will open Big Sky Tournament play against the Bobcats of Montana State.
The Eagles, who earned the No. 3-seed in the 2013 Championship, will take on No. 6-seed MSU on Wednesday (March 13) at 4:30 p.m. PDT/5:30 MDT in Missoula, Mont.
Eastern also faced the Bobcats in their initial game of the 2009-10 tournament, and played them again in the quarterfinals in 2010-11. In three postseason meetings, EWU holds a slight edge at 2-1.
The Eagles will come into Wednesday’s contest riding a three-game winning streak, and having won 11 of their last 14. The Bobcats on the other hand have won only three of their last 11 games heading into the postseason.
MSU did win its first eight games in a row though to start the 2012-13 league season, including a 73-60 win over Eastern on Jan. 5 in Cheney. But the Eags repaid the favor when they took down MSU in Bozeman, 68-59, on Jan. 31.
“It’s a one-game season, and we’re not looking any further ahead than Wednesday against Montana State,” said EWU head coach Wendy Schuller. “Montana State is really good basketball team. This is a team that beat Denver, Clemson and Colorado in the non-conference schedule, so we know they’re going to be a tough opponent.”
First and foremost as EWU prepares for the conference tournament, the team will look to refine its own game, on both ends of the floor.
“We are working on improving ourselves first, and making sure we are ready both mentally and physically,” said Schuller. “Offensively, if we can move the ball, space the floor and kind of get that inside-out game going, I think we can be pretty good. We need to be able to share the ball and really play to each other’s strengths because we really have a lot of players who are capable of doing different things. We will have to work hard defensively on every possession, and just make sure we are all on the same page on that end of the floor.”
Once the Eagles are satisfied with what they’re doing, they will turn attention to Montana State, whose biggest threat comes in the form of All-Big Sky second-team selection, Rachel Semansky.
“Montana State has great players, and I think it all starts with Rachel Semansky,” said Schuller. “She is a hard, hard worker, who will get physical and demand the ball and shoot a high percentage. We have to do a great job of limiting her touches.”
In the two regular-season meetings against Montana State, Semansky scored a combined 36 points on 67 percent shooting. On the year, the 6-0 center is averaging 12.8 points on a conference-leading 55.7 field goal percentage, as well as 7.2 rebounds per game, 1.9 assists and 1.2 steals.
But according to Schuller, Semansky is by no means the only Bobcat who poses a threat.
“They [MSU] also have a great guard who hunts shots and does a great job getting to the free-throw line,” said Schuller. “I also think [Ashley] Brumwell and [Latisha] Adams are both really dangerous players. They are athletic and can get in the lane to make some things happen that way. So really, we’re just going to have to be great defensively.”
In the two prior meetings, EWU held a slight edge in shooting percentage at 42.2, compared to 40 percent for the Bobcats. Eastern also shot 35.7 percent from three, compared to just 24.2 percent for Montana State. But that should come as no surprise, as EWU has proved to be the most efficient-shooting team in the league this year, ranking first in the Big Sky in field goal percentage, free-throw percentage and 3-point field goal percentage.
The Eagles also out-rebounded Montana State, 75-70, in the two games combined, while the assist totals were the same for both teams at 29.
The winner of Wednesday’s quarterfinal matchup will take on the highest remaining seed from the other quarterfinal games, which include No. 2 Northern Colorado vs. No. 7 Southern Utah and No. 4 Idaho State vs. No. 5 Sacramento State. The lowest remaining seed from those games will face No. 1-seed and host, Montana.
EWU in the Big Sky Tourney
- Eastern Washington is making its fourth-consecutive appearance in the Big Sky Conference Championships, and ninth in head coach Wendy Schuller’s 12-year tenure. Since becoming a member of the Big Sky, Eastern has advanced to the semifinals eight times, but has never gone on to win a tournament crown. The Eagles did win the Mountain West Conference title in 1986-87 with a dramatic 77-74 win over the Lady Griz in Missoula, Mont.
- Schuller has led her teams to eight semifinal appearances, but the 12-year head coach has never played for a Big Sky Championship. This year, if EWU wins its first two tournament games, not only will Schuller get to coach in her first Big Sky title game, but she will have reached the 20-win mark for the season for the first time in her head coaching career. Eastern enters the tournament at 18-11 on the year.
- Throughout its history, Eastern Washington has played in 13 Big Sky Conference tournaments, and four Mountain West Conference tournaments. Of those 17 postseason appearances, 10 of them have taken place at Dahlberg Arena in Missoula.
- Seniors Carrie Ojeda and Jordan Schoening will be playing in their fourth-consecutive Big Sky Conference Tournament - the first Eagles to do so since the seniors of 2005-06.
- Eastern’s all-time record in the conference tournament (including both MWC and BSC) is 9-16. Under Schuller, the Eagles are 4-7. Here is a look at EWU’s complete tournament history…
2012 - Quarterfinals (Pocatello, Idaho) #3 seed vs. #6
Sacramento State - L 61-71
2011 – Semifinals (Portland, Ore.) #6 seed vs. #1 Portland State – L 62-73
2011 – Quarterfinal (Portland, Ore.) #6 seed vs. #3 Montana State – W 77-68
2010 – Semifinals (Cheney, Wash.) #1 seed vs. #6 Montana State – L 57-65
2006 – Quarterfinals (Pocatello, Idaho) #4 seed vs. #5 Weber State – L 69-74
2005 – Quarterfinals (Missoula, Mont.) #4 seed vs. #5 Idaho State – L 55-82
2004 – Semifinals (Missoula, Mont.) #6 seed vs. #1 Montana – L 54-81
2004 – Quarterfinals (Missoula, Mont.) #6 seed vs. #3 Weber State – W 58-57
2003 – Semifinals (Ogden, Utah) #5 seed vs. #1 Weber State – L 55-64
2003 – Quarterfinals (Ogden, Utah) #5 seed vs. #4 Portland State – W 71-64
2002 – Semifinals (Ogden, Utah) #5 seed vs. #1 Weber State – L 51-68
2002 – Quarterfinals (Ogden, Utah) #5 seed vs. #4 Northern Arizona – W 70-57
2001 – Quarterfinals (Pocatello, Idaho) #6 seed vs. #3 Montana – L 55-76
2000 – Quarterfinals (Missoula, Mont.) #6 seed vs. #3 Idaho State – L 46-55
1996 – Quarterfinals (Missoula, Mont.) #6 seed vs. #3 Weber State – L 63-71
1995 – Semifinals (Missoula, Mont.) #4 seed vs. #1 Montana – L 47-72
1990 – Semifinals (Missoula, Mont.) #4 seed vs. #1 Montana – L 61-72
1988 – Championship (Missoula, Mont.) #3 seed vs. #1 Montana – L 53-79
1988 – Semifinals (Missoula, Mont.) #3 seed vs. #2 Montana State – W 81-65
*1987 – Championship (Missoula, Mont.) #2 seed vs. #1 Montana – W 77-74
*1987 – Semifinals (Missoula, Mont.) #2 seed vs. #3 Weber State – W 71-65
*1986 – Championship (Missoula, Mont.) #3 seed vs. #1 Montana – L 39-65
*1986 – Semifinals (Missoula, Mont.) #3 seed vs. #2 Idaho – W 62-60
*1985 – Semifinals (Moscow, Idaho) #3 seed vs. #2 Montana – L 65-66
*1984 – Championship (Missoula, Mont.) #2 seed vs. #1 Montana – L 62-77
*1984 – Semifinals (Missoula, Mont.) #2 seed vs. #3 Idaho – W 82-71
* Mountain West Conference
@EWUWBB News & Notes
THREE ALL-CONFERENCE: Eastern Washington had
three players named to the All-Big Sky Conference team. Lexie
Nelson was tabbed as one of the six best players in the league, as
a member of the All-Big Sky First-Team - the only underclassmen on
the first or second-team list. Eastern has now had a player on the
first team for four-consecutive seasons, including two Big Sky MVPs
(Julie Piper, 2010; Brianne Ryan, 2012). Senior Carrie Ojeda earned
the first postseason accolade of her career, as she was selected to
the honorable mention squad. Redshirt-freshman Hayley Hodgins was
picked by the league's 11 head coaches as Most Outstanding
TOP THREE FOR TWO-STRAIGHT: For the second-consecutive year, EWU has finished third in the Big Sky Conference regular-season race. The Eagles finished 10-6 in the league in 2011-12, and in the first year of 11 teams in the conference, Eastern went 14-6.
EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS...AGAIN: In recent years, head coach Wendy Schuller has not earned a lot of respect from her peers in the preseason. Eastern Washington was picked eighth in this year's Big Sky Preseason Coaches’ and Media Poll - a ranking that had Eastern not even qualifying for the seven-team postseason tournament. But alas, EWU was one of the first teams to clinch a bid, and ended up with one of the top three seeds. But that kind of preseason ranking is nothing new for the Eagles. Prior to the 2009-10 season, Eastern was selected seventh by both the coaches and media. That year, EWU went on to win the school’s first-ever Big Sky regular-season title with an impressive 12-4 league record. Last season, the Eagles were picked seventh again, and ended up finishing third overall.
TOP 40 IN EFFICIENCY: Eastern Washington ranks among the top 30 in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage and free throw percentage. The Eagles are No. 1 in the conference in both categories, while also ranking first in the Big Sky in overall field goal percentage. EWU is converting 35 percent of its shots from downtown to 23rd among all Division I teams. In league-only games, EWU is shooting 37 percent from distance. Eastern averages 5.7 3-point field goals per game. Eastern has four different players who rank in the top eight in the conference in 3-point field goal percentage, including Lexie Nelson (4th), Aubrey Ashenfelter (5th), Hayley Hodgins (8th) and Kylie Huerta (9th). At the charity stripe, EWU is converting 75 percent of its shots, which ranks 25th nationally. Again, that average has been even better in conference play at 78 percent.
OJEDA CLIMBING THE CHARTS: Senior Carrie Ojeda now ranks among the top 10 in EWU history in two different career categories. With two blocks in against NAU on Feb. 7, Ojeda moved into fifth place on EWU's all-time career blocks list, surpassing Kathleen Nygaard, who had 115 in her four years (2002-04) with the Eagles. Ojeda since improved that total to 122 blocks - just 15 from catching Nicolle Scott in fourth place with 137. Ojeda has appeared in 117 career games for the Eagles, which ranks sixth all-time. With at least one more guaranteed game the 2012-13 slate, Ojeda will move up to at least fifth place before her career comes to an end.
CAREER-HIGH COINCIDENCE: Redshirt-freshman Hayley Hodgins has had two 20-point performances this season, and both came against the Vikings of Portland State on the 21st day of the month. Hodgins went 7-of-8 from the field and 7-of-8 at the free throw line against PSU on Feb. 21 for a career-high 24 tallies. In the Jan. 21 meeting with the Vikings in Portland, Hodgins scored 22 points. But Hodgins is not the only Eagle that has set a career-high mark in the last month. In fact, in four of the last six games, EWU has had four different players earn a carer-high in scoring. Just before Hodgins' 24 against PSU, junior Laura Hughes had a career-high-tying 20 points to lead EWU to a win on the road against Southern Utah (Feb. 16). In Eastern's OT win against Idaho State (March 7), Lexie Nelson poured in a career-high 24 points, and in the most recent outing against Weber State (March 9), senior Carrie Ojeda had a career-best 27 points, which also marked an individual season-high for the team.
CHASING/ACHIEVING MILESTONES: This season, Wendy Schuller won her 150th game as EWU’s head coach - it came in the 75-72 home win over North Dakota on Jan. 17. That started a five-game winning streak for the Eagles, who have now won 10 of the last 13 since that day. While she's already reached one milestone, Schuller has potential to reach another. In her 12 years at the helm, the Eagles have never won 20 games in a season. They have come close the last couple, with 16 in 2011-12 and 19 in 200-10. If EWU wins two games in the tournament, Schuller will have her first 20-win season. Also, in her EWU tenure, the Eagles have advanced to the conference tournament eight times, but have never played for a championship. The Eagles have made it through to the semis in five of those eight trips, but that's the furthest.
REGARDING ASSIST/TURNOVER RATIO: In games that Eastern has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 0.8 or higher, the Eagles are 16-2. When the assist-to-turnover ratio is below 0.8, the team is 2-7. EWU is 11-0 this year when committing less turnovers than its opponent, and 11-1 when tallying more assists. On the season, the Eagles rank third out of 11 teams in the conference in assist/turnover ratio at 0.9. Recently in the home game against Portland State, the Eagles had a season-best assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.6 with 18 assists and just five turnovers. The Eagles also had a 25-0 advantage in points off turnovers in that game against the Viks.
HOLD 'EM to 60/40: In the 2012-13 season, Eastern is 15-2 when holding teams to less than 40 percent shooting from the field, and 11-0 when its opponent scores fewer than 60 points.
FREE THROW FRENZY: Sophomore Lexie Nelson converted a career-high 12-of-12 free throws in Eastern's last meeting with Southern Utah (Jan. 26). In doing so, she bettered a 21-year old school record held by Lisa Graber, who made 11-of-11 against Northern Arizona on Feb. 22, 1992. She also tied the all-time Big Sky single-game record of 1.000 percent (with at least 12 attempts), which has been met by 12 different players throughout history. Nelson is No. 1 in the conference in free-throw percentage and among the top 30 in the nation at 86.5 percent on the season.
AFTER ROCKY START TO 2013, EAGLES ARE ROLLING: Eastern Washington won five games in a row from Jan. 17 - Jan. 31, and has won nine of its last 11. This hot streak started with the 75-72 win against UND, which coincidentally was head coach Wendy Schuller's' 150th victory at Eastern. During this stretch, the Eagles have shot 43 percent from the field and 38 percent from three. In the first five games of 2013, EWU was shooting just 36.8 percent from the floor, and 35.5 percent from three, which resulted in a 1-3 start to the new calendar year.
PUPS STEP UP: In EWU's 79-70 win over Southern Utah (Jan. 26), the Eagles had eight different players score at least six points - and six of them were underclassmen. Sophomores Lexie Nelson and Kylie Huerta led the way with 21 and 12 points, respectively, while redshirt-freshman Hayley Hodgins chipped in six. But the surprise contributors were freshmen Kayleigh Ryan and Hanna Mack, who both posted a career-high six points on a combined 5-of-8 effort from the floor.
VALUE OF VERSATILITY...ON OFFENSE: Eastern has had seven different players lead the team in scoring this year. Sophomore Lexie Nelson leads the way with 10 team-high performances, while Carrie Ojeda, Aubrey Ashenfelter, Chenise Pakootas, Laura Hughes, Kylie Huerta and Hayley Hodgins have all led in points at least once. Eastern has had at least three different players score in double-figures in 14 of the last 20 games for an 15-5 record in those contests.
VALUE OF VERSATILITY...ON DEFENSE: Eastern also shares the wealth defensively, in both rebounding and steals. Seven different players have led in those categories at least once this year. Senior Carrie Ojeda, juniors Aubrey Ashenfelter and Laura Hughes, and sophomore Melissa Williams have each posted at least one double-digit rebounding effort in the 2012-13 campaign.
WILLIAMS HAS WEEKEND TO REMEMBER: EWU came away with two losses on its road trip earlier this year to Northern Arizona and Sac State, but individually, sophomore forward Melissa Williams had the best weekend of her Eagle career. She posted back-to-back double-doubles, averaging 11.5 points (nearly triple her season average) and 11.0 rebounds, while also leading the team in assists with seven. Against the Lumberjacks in Flagstaff, Williams had a career high in both points and rebounds, as she finished with 13 tallies on 4-of-8 shooting from the field and 5-of-7 from the free throw line, and grabbed 11 boards. She also had four assists, one block and one steal. Two days later against the Hornets, she had 10 points and 11 rebounds, to go along with three assists and two steals. But her stellar weekend came to a premature end when she went down with a knee injury in the final six minutes of the Sac State game. Williams suffered a sprained MCL, and had to sit out for two weeks. But the sophomore forward made her return against Southern Utah (Jan. 26), contributing six points and five rebounds.
TOUGH SLATE: During the non-conference season, in which Eastern went 4-5, the team played two opponents (Cal, Gonzaga) who were either ranked or receiving votes in the USA Today Sports Coaches Top 25 Poll. EWU opened the year against Pacific and Cal State Northridge - the two teams picked to finish at the top of the Big West Conference this year, and who both have a .520 or better winning percentage at this point in the season. On its 2012-13 schedule, the Eagles have a total of seven opponents that participated in national tournaments a year ago.
Gatorade Girls: This year, Eastern Washington boasts not one, but two Gatorade Players of the Year on its roster. A product of Butte (Mont.) High School, sophomore Lexie Nelson was the Gatorade Player of the Year for Montana in 2010, while freshman Tisha Phillips, a graduate of Lewiston (Idaho) High School, earned the honor for Idaho in 2012. Nelson was a four-time Class AA All-State selection, and led her team to back-to-back runner-up finishes in the Montana State Championships. Phillips was a two-time First-Team All-State selection, and won two Idaho 5A state titles with the Bengals.
WHAT WENDY HAS DONE...
• Eastern has advanced to the Big Sky Conference tournament in nine of Schuller’s 12 years as head coach, including the last four in a row. Behind Montana's Robin Selvig, who has been with the program for a whopping 35 years, Schuller is the second-longest tenured coach in the Big Sky in terms of years coaching in the conference. And the most successful years of those 12 has been the three most recent. In the last three seasons, Eastern has earned 30 Big Sky Conference wins, which is more than it had in the previous five seasons combined.
• Her 2009-10 squad captured the school's first-ever Big Sky regular-season title, and hosted the league tournament for the first time in school history. Schuller was named Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year after leading the squad to a 12-4 mark in the conference and 19-12 overall, which were the best records posted by an Eagle squad since the 1984-85 season when Eastern was still a member of the Mountain West Conference. That year, the Eagles advanced to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament, marking the school’s first national postseason appearance since the 1987 season.
• It should also be noted that in 2009-10 - the year EWU won the Big Sky regular-season title - the Eagles were picked seventh in the preseason coaches' poll. Last year in 2011-12, the Eagles were again picked seventh, and ended up finishing third. And right now, Schuller's 2012-13 team, which was picked eighth in the preseason poll, is currently atop the Big Sky standings with a perfect 3-0 record.
• Schuller has had 13 different players named to one or more All-Big Sky Conference teams, including two league MVPs in Julie Piper (2010) and Brianne Ryan (2012), as well as the school’s first Big Sky Newcomer of the Year, Julie Page, who competed in the 2012 London Olympics as a captain for the Great Britain national team.
• In the past 10 seasons, Eastern Washington women’s basketball players have been honored 88 times on the Big Sky All-Academic list, which is the most for any women’s basketball team in the league. The Eagles have also been recognized on the WBCA Academic Top 25 Honor Roll for 10 of the past 11 seasons, and in 2003-04, the Eagles led the nation with a 3.63 grade point average.
• In the 2011-12 season, Schuller led the Eagles to a first-ever sweep of the Montana road trip in school history. The back-to-back wins at Montana (Jan. 26) and Montana State (Jan. 28) were two of Eastern’s six total road wins in the Big Sky season - which tied another school record. Schuller's teams have in fact won two years in a row at Dahlberg Arena in Missoula, Mont., which is a milestone in itself considering the Eagles as a program have only recorded four wins there throughout history. Former head coach Bill Smithpeters also won twice in Missoula - once in 1980, and again in 1987 when EWU upset Montana in the championship game of the Mountain West Conference Tournament.
Preseason Talking Points
• Eastern won their lone exhibition game on Nov. 4 against the NAIA’s Carroll College. EWU out-scored the Saints by 22 in the second half to roll to a 65-38 victory. Nine different Eagles contributed points in the game, led by sophomore Lexie Nelson, who poured in 19.
• Eastern returns three starters and six other letterwinners, as well as three redshirts and four newcomers. But for the first time in three years, the Eagles will not welcome back an All-Big Sky player. Following the 2011-12 season, Eastern graduated two-time unanimous first-team selection and 2012 Big Sky MVP Brianne Ryan, as well as second-team honoree Chene Cooper, who accounted for nearly 50 percent of the Eagle scoring a year ago.
• Eastern is coming off one of its best seasons ever in the Big Sky Conference. With a 10-6 record in 2011-12, EWU took third in the league race - its second-best effort in more than two decades. The only better finish since 1987-88, when the Big Sky started sponsoring women’s sports, came two years prior in 2009-10, when the Eagles won the school’s first-ever regular-season title with a 12-4 league record.
ON THE RECRUITING TRAIL...
Eastern Washington University head women’s basketball coach Wendy Schuller announced the signing of four high-school standouts to national letters of intent during the early signing period. Eastern’s 2013 recruiting class includes Spokane native Jade Redmon, 5-9 guard Bethany Montgomery out of Tacoma, Wash., 6-0 forward Haley Shaner from Sacramento, Calif., and 6-3 center Marly Anderson of Hillsboro, Ore., who ranks among the top 60 nationally for her position, according to Hoopgurlz.com.
Jade Redmon is a standout for Mead High School. She recently helped lead the Panthers to the girls 4A state title, and was named to the All-Tournament Team. Redmon was also named a Seattle-Times All-State selection. She was the 2012 All-Greater Spokane League First-Team selection, averaging a team-leading 14.6 points per game during her junior campaign. A dual-sport athlete, Redmon also excelled as a member of the girls soccer team, earning All-GSL honorable mention accolades as a defender in 2011. Recently, she helped lead the Panthers to an Elite Eight berth in the 2012 4A State Soccer Championships.Outside of her high school career, Redmon plays for the eminent Northwest Blazers AAU team, under coach Steve Klees. In 2012, her Northwest Blazers Orange team earned a 43-2 record. The club team captured the End of Trail Music City Madness Tournament title in Nashville, Tenn., where Redmon was selected to the all-tournament team. The Orange also won the elite division championship at the MSNM Tournament in San Diego, Calif. Redmon comes from a family of successful collegiate athletes. Her older sister, Jazmine, is a junior point guard with the nationally-acclaimed Gonzaga women’s basketball team, while mother, Shaney, was a track and field athlete at Washington State University. Coincidentally, Shaney was coached at WSU by Eastern’s current head track and field coach, Marcia Mecklenburg.
Bethany Montgomery comes to Eastern from Wilson High School in Tacoma, Wash. Montgomery was recently named to the Seattle-Times All-State team after leading her team to the 3A state playoffs. She is a three-time All-Narrows League selection, earning first-team honors as a freshman and junior, and second-team accolades as a sophomore. She was a Tacoma News Tribune All-Area second-team selection in 2012 and earned All-Area Honorable Mention from the Seattle Times that same year. As a junior, she averaged 13.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.4 steals for WHS. Montgomery led the Rams to a Narrows League title in 2012 with a perfect 10-0 record. Her team went on to finish second in the West Central District that year with a 20-4 overall mark. Montgomery is also a Narrows League high jump champion, and was named to the Seattle Times track and field All-Area honorable mention team in 2012. Montgomery has earned the WIAA Distinguished Scholastic Award for three-consecutive years and was a finalist for Tacoma Athlete of the Year in 2010.
Haley Shaner, a 6-0 forward out of West Campus High School in Sacramento, Calif., is the reigning two-time Golden Empire League MVP, and was a 2012 Sacramento Bee All-Metro second-team selection. Averaging 16.2 points, 8.5 rebounds and just over two assists, steals and blocks per game in 2012, Shaner led her team a runner-up finish in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV Championships. The Warriors reached the section title game for the first time in school history after a 50-47 upset of rival Colfax in the semifinals, which marked West Campus’ 19th-consecutive win of the 2011-12 season. Shaner registered a game-high 14 points and nine rebounds in the historic win. She also led her team to two-consecutive Golden Empire League titles, including a perfect 10-0 run in 2012.
Marly Anderson is rated as the No. 55 recruit in the nation for her position, according to Hoopgurlz.com. She is a three-year starter for the Glencoe Crimson Tide in Hillsboro, Ore., and also plays for one of the top club teams in the nation - Team Concept. Anderson is a three-time All-Pacific Conference selection, which includes first-team honors in 2012. As a junior, she averaged 12.0 points and 9.8 rebounds per game to help lead her team to a 6A-4 Pacific Conference regular-season title. Behind a 21-point, 12-rebound performance from Anderson in the opening round, the Crimson Tide advanced to the Elite Eight of the Class 6A Oregon State Championships in 2012. With Team Concept, Anderson played alongside 6-5 post Mercedes Russell - the nation’s top-rated recruit for 2013. The five-star recruit and Oregon Class 5A Player of the Year signed with Tennessee on Wednesday (Nov. 14).