Arizona head coach Niya Butts and the women’s basketball staff signed one of the best classes in program history, the program announced on Wednesday.
Entering the signing period, the Wildcat class was named one of the country’s top 25 classes and third-best in the Pac-12.
JaLea Bennett, Taryn Griffey, Charise Holloway, Cherice Harris and Chy Cunningham will join the Wildcats for the 2014-15 season.
“Overall, we think this class has been pretty good,” Butts said. “We are bringing in some talented young ladies and they are going to be ready to play immediately. They have been working hard, they know the value of good work ethic and I think that’s the thing that is going to set them apart from the other freshmen in the country.”
The five players will join a stacked roster, including current junior Candice Warthen, sophomores Keyahndra Cannon, Nyre Harris and Farrin Bell and freshmen LaBrittney Jones, Dejza James, Ashley Merrill and Breanna Workman.
5-10, shooting guard
Grand Prairie, Texas
Plans to major in: Criminal Justice Studies
High School: Mansfield Timberview High School
First Team All-District in junior season
Averaged 9.6 ppg/5.7 rpg in her junior season
Butts: “She is a super-athletic young lady. She rebounds very well from the guard position, can play multiple positions, has a strong body and can get inside and finish with the best of them. She is a tremendous athlete and will help us defensively as well.”
“I chose Arizona because they were very committed during my recruiting process. When they said they wanted me, they meant it. They were at all of my games, were the first to call me, and I developed very strong relationships with them right off the bat. On my visit, the campus was beautiful, everyone was nice and I feel like I'm at home when I'm at Arizona. The team is very funny and I feel like I'll fit in with them. The program is a great fit for me as well. I feel comfortable with the staff, and players. I am also excited about our recruiting class! I get along with all of the girls very well, and I got the chance to play against some of them as well. It will be great to play with them. It's going to be fun!”
5-6, point guard
Plans to major in: Business
High School: Dr. Phillips High School
State MVP her freshman and sophomore years
State Player of the Year in sophomore season
Brighthouse Player of the Year
All-Academic and Metrowest Highest GPA
Averaged 16.4 ppg and 7 rpg in soph season
Butts: “One of the better players in the country, Taryn has suffered a couple injuries in the past. She is hungry and just ready to get back on the floor. Her quickness, athleticism and ability to shoot the long-range shot is going to be much-needed for us. It will add a perimeter threat for us that is going to help us win a lot of games.”
“I chose Arizona because it felt like home the way the coaches treated me and the way the players reacted to me while I was there! They made me feel like that was where I had to be and like they needed me there! But not just only about basketball I loved the academics part of it too. It’s the main reason why I chose them! I want to major in business and there business program is ranked 22 in the nation for public schools! I know that basketball isn’t going to last forever so to have a business degree from Arizona will take me far!! Also I feel like I can contribute to the team and considering the 2014 class that’s coming in I feel like we can shock a lot of people and put Arizona on the map! I don’t want to be known as Ken Griffey Jr's daughter I want to be known as Taryn Griffey because I am my own person I want to make a name for myself and put my school on the map and I feel like Arizona is where I can do that! Bear Down.”
Plans to major in: Law
High School: St. Mary’s High School
Butts: “She is a grinder. This kid plays so hard on the floor and gives you everything she has. She’s a great rebounder for her size. She is deceptively quick on the floor with the basketball. She can finish in traffic, can take contact and still make plays. Defensively, she is greedy. She gets after it on the perimeter, gets her hands on the ball a lot because she’s so active. We are looking forward to her coming in and being an asset right away.”
“When I first arrived at Arizona for my official visit, I was coming down the airport escalator and was greeted with a hand clap and cheering. It was Coach Butts, she greeted my family and I with such warmth. During my campus tour I fell in love with the dorms, athletic facilities, and the beauty of the campus, but what excited me the most, is when I met the academic counselor Samantha Amato, she was awesome! I can’t wait to work with her. I appreciate the compassion and the warmth of which I received from the coaching staff. They are so easy-going, it was like we've known each other for a long time. I have to admit Coach McEntire had a positive impact on me which enabled me to make the correct decision with the right University. I'm proud to be a part of the Wildcats family. Bear Down! “
5-8 point guard
Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
Plans to major in: Psychology or Sociology
High School: Etiwanda High School
Averaged 12.0 ppg in junior season
first-team baseline league
second- team inland valley
Butts: “She is a very poised young lady. When she is on the floor, her temperament is very calm and steady—something that is definitely needed at the point guard position and the two-guard position. She is going to bring a solid feel for the game. Her poise with the basketball is incredible for someone so young and we are looking forward to having her as a part of our family.”
“The reason I chose Arizona is because I like their up-tempo style of play and the relationships that the coaches have with the players. I feel the staff is really great with the players on the court but at the same time they continue to teach life lessons off the court as well. When I visited Arizona, the atmosphere and energy was great! I just feel right at home at Arizona!”
Plans to major in: Physical Therapy
Transfer From: Paris Junior College
Averaged 13 ppg
Shot 50 percent from the field
Butts: “She is someone who is a bigger guard, can run the point and do a lot of things on the perimeter. She can also play inside because of her size. She is a very smart basketball player and loves the game. She’s a basketball junkie and when you have a player that stays in the gym and always wants to work, that is going to feed into the rest of the team and we are very excited about having her.”
“I chose the University of Arizona because not only is the school great academically, but I feel like I will grow as a person after I'm finished with basketball and enter the real world. I'm very comfortable with the coaching staff and feel like they have my best interest at heart. Coach Sean has been consistent throughout my whole recruiting process and he still is... That just shows how loyal he is as a coach. I also feel like coach Butts will be a great mentor for me because she knows what it takes to be successful on and off the court.. Everything happens for a reason.. A door was opened for me and this is what I’ve always dreamed of... and I couldn't let this opportunity slip away...”
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