Winthrop women's basketball coach Bud Childers has signed five players -- Darnissa "Dee" Gray, Tiffany Charles, Dequesha McClanahan, Samiya Wright and Kristine Rishel -- to the 2010-2011 recruiting class. The class consists of five freshmen, four of which are guards.
The newcomers make up the youngest recruiting class since Childers' second season when he brought in six freshmen that went on to set several school records including wins in a single season and first ever postseason WNIT appearance.
Having lost 10 players to graduation in two seasons, this is a class that Childers expects to come in and play significant minutes and make immediate contributions on both ends of the court.
Gray is a 5-foot-7 guard from Chicago. She was a two-year captain on her high school team, Most Valuable Player as a junior and Co-MVP as a senior. The 2010 all-state selection scored 11.3 points and had 8.8 rebounds per game as a senior playing out of position as a forward and finished her career as the school's all-time leading scorer with over 1,200 points. She scored 15.1 points and had 6.9 rebounds a game as a junior in her normal guard position.
Charles is a 5-8 guard out of Opelika, Fla., where she played high school hoops for Monsignor Pace. She was an All-State Second Team selection in 2010. The two-year captain also was a 2009 and 2010 First Team All-Dade County selection. As a junior Charles averaged 17.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.5 steals, 3.3 assists and 1.5 blocks a game. Her senior season she averaged 17.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 steals and 3.2 assists and became a member of the 1,000 point club at Monsignor Pace.
McClanahan is a 5-8 guard out of Oak Ridge High School in Oak Ridge, Tenn. In 2010 she was named to the Tennessee Sports Writers Group AAA All-State First Team as she led her team in scoring with 15.4 points per game. McClanahan was named the regular season MVP of the district and was selected to the All-District and All-Region Tournament Teams. She scored over 1,000 points in her career and also participated in the Basketball Coaches Association Of Tennessee All-Star Game.
Wright, out of Oswego, Ill., is a 5-9 guard. She ended her career as the second-leading scorer in the history of the Oswego High School program. As a senior she averaged 14.6 points per game and was named Second Team All-State by the AP and Illinois Basketball Coaches Association. She was the Southwest Prairie Conference MVP, the Walter Payton Roundhouse Player of the Year, and the Aurora Beacon News Area Player of the Year as a senior. Wright was also named the "Best Defensive Guard" in the state in on publication as well.
The only post player of the class is Rishel, out of Middle Creek High School in Apex, N.C. The 6-3 forward earned First Team All-Conference and Third Team All-District as a senior. She averaged 11.1 points and 8.1 rebounds in her senior season and finished her career ranked second all-time in blocked shots at Middle Creek with 82.
VOLLEYBALL -- Winthrop volleyball coach Sally Polhamus announced the hiring of former Eagles' player Mary Hock Leventis as an assistant coach. She replaces Shannon Wells who accepted an assistant coaching position at Ole Miss last month.
Leventis, who graduated Cum Laude in 2006 with a degree in Fitness Wellness, helped lead Winthrop to four straight Big South Conference championships and NCAA tournament appearances (2002-2005) as a player and another as a student assistant in 2006.
She was the Big South Player of the Year in 2004 and was a three-time All-Big South First Team selection. In 2002 she was voted the conference's Freshman of the Year and she was selected the Big South Tournament MVP in 2005. In 2004, she was named to the NCAA East Regional Team and was an Honorable Mention All-American. Known for her jump serve, she led the NCAA in service aces in 2005 and she still holds the Winthrop career records for aces and kills.
She is married to former Winthrop men's basketball player Gabe Leventis.