ATHENS — A quartet of the nation’s top girls’ basketball players inked letters of intent with the Georgia Lady Bulldogs on Wednesday, giving Andy Landers and his staff what is widely regarded as one of the top-5 recruiting classes in the nation.
Anne Marie Armstrong, Jasmine Hassell, Jasmine James and Tamika Willis — each ranked among the nation’s top-50 overall prospects by one or more scouting services — will continue their basketball careers in Athens next fall. The class has been ranked No. 3 nationally by both All-Star Girls Basketball Report and the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report, as well as No. 5 by Blue Star and No. 7 by Hoopgurlz.
“I’m very pleased with the quality of the class,” coach Andy Landers said. “I’m sure this class as a whole will be recognized as an outstanding group, but each individual player is outstanding and will have the opportunity to make our team better. This is the sum total of a lot of hard work and diligence on the part of our coaching staff and our assistant coaches should be congratulated.”
Armstrong, a 6-foot-3 wing from Wesleyan, is the reigning Miss Georgia Basketball and is ranked as the nation’s No. 6 prospect at her position by the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report. Armstrong has captured no less than seven state titles in her first three years of high school — two championships in basketball, three in volleyball and two individual crowns in the high jump.
“Anne Marie is an exciting part of this class,” Landers said. “She represents the tallest perimeter player that we’ve ever had at 6-3. She has excellent skills and a lot of untapped potential. All she’s done is win. She’s dominated several sports in high school and I’m eager to see what happens when she concentrates on one.”
Jasmine Hassell, a 6-2 center from Wilson Central High in Lebanon, Tenn., was named the 2008 Division I AAA Miss Basketball for Tennessee after leading the Wildcats to their second state title in three years. She is listed as the nation’s No. 6 center by the All-Star Girls Report. Hassell scored 71 of her team’s 143 points in its 2008 state tournament games.
“Jasmine is a proven player,” Landers said. “She’s won in a very competitive high school environment, she was a feature player on a very good summer team and she wins. Her style is a mix of both skill and aggressiveness. She’s just a very powerful player.”
James, a 5-9 guard from Barlett High in Memphis, was named the Memphis Commercial Appeal’s Player of the Year as both a sophomore and a junior. She is ranked No. 5 nationally among guard prospects by the All-Star Girls Report. As a junior, James averaged 24.8 points, seven rebounds, six assists and five steals while leading Barlett to its first state tournament appearance since 1928.
“Jasmine has the potential to make the lights on our side of the scoreboard change often,” Landers said. “She is an excellent offensive basketball player who not only scores it but creates scoring chances for other people. She has the potential to be an outstanding defender as well.”
Willis, a 6-2 forward from Westlake High, is a two time All-State performer in Class AAAA and tabbed as the No. 11 post prospect by the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report. Willis was a consensus first-team All-State pick after leading Westlake to the semifinals of the state tournament as a junior, a year after she garnered second-team All-State honors as a sophomore.
“Tamika is a warrior,” Landers said. “She brings the fight; she doesn’t watch it. She’s an extremely hard worker, plays the game with great enthusiasm and has an excellent post player skill set. She can score it low, high and she’ll rebound. She’s definitely an underrated player.”
Miller, Mayfield sign with Bulldogs
Georgia basketball coach Dennis Felton ventured scarcely beyond his own backyard to bring in his two newest additions to the Bulldog program. Center Daniel Miller of Loganville and guard DeMario Mayfield of Carnesville both signed national letters-of-intent Wednesday to attend Georgia and play next season for the Bulldogs, Felton announced Wednesday.
“We are thrilled to have Daniel and DeMario joining our Georgia basketball family,” Felton said. “Not only are they tremendously talented basketball players, but they also bring more of the same personal attributes that are so important to us: enthusiasm, integrity and passion for doing something special. They are going to be terrific Bulldogs.”
Miller is currently a senior at Loganville Christian Academy. The 6-foot-11, 240-pound center is rated the ninth-best prospect at his position nationally by Rivals.com and the No. 8 center prospect by espn.com. As a junior last year, Miller averaged 28.8 points, 12.3 rebounds and 7 blocks per game in leading LCA to the 2008 championship of the Independent Christian Schools of Georgia-Alabama (ICSGA). It was Loganville’s second straight title.
“Daniel has a very exciting future,” Felton said. “For a player of his size, he has tremendous hands, touch and instincts for the game. He can score with his back to the basket and also facing up to 18 feet. He also has a real knack for rebounding and blocking shots, most of which he keeps in play.”
Mayfield, at 6-4 and 190 pounds, is beginning his senior season at Franklin County High School in Carnesville. As a junior last season, he averaged 24.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game for the Lions. He is rated the No. 17 point guard prospect by espn.com.
“DeMario is long, athletic and versatile,” Felton said. “I believe he can be equally comfortable and effective on and off the ball. His size and versatility should provide us with many options during the course of his career. DeMario also has the ability to be a tough, tough defender.”