LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Bellarmine University women's basketball coach Chancellor Dugan has announced the signing of four prep players to National Letters of Intent as well as the addition of a transfer to join the Knights in the 2013-14 season.
Dugan signed high school standouts Mercedes Cox, Courtney Sandlin, Jessica Hardin, and Destony Curry and added transfer Brooke Keeton in her first full signing class since taking over the Bellarmine program in late June.
"We're very excited about this class," said Dugan. "We identified a group of girls early on, and got every single one of them. They're all excellent basketball players and even better students, that's the mix that we want at Bellarmine."
A 5-8 guard from Adair County High School, Cox led the Indians to a 25-6 record by pouring in 19.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, tops on her team in both categories. Her junior season was her first at Adair County, spending her first two years at Taylor County where she was on pace to break the program's all-time scoring record in under three seasons.
"Mercedes is a great outside shooter, but her ability to also take a defender off the dribble makes her very difficult to guard," said Dugan. "She's a tough rebounder and does the little things that a team needs to win games."
One of the top players in northern Kentucky, Sandlin led the 8th Region in scoring at 14.6 ppg while pulling down 8.0 boards a contest. An integral part of a Walton Verona team that has made back-to-back trips to the Sweet 16, Sandlin has played at the varsity level since her 8th grade year. The 5-11 forward has the ability to score in a variety of ways and ranked third in state in free throw shooting, hitting 83.3% of her attempts from the stripe.
A true inside-outside forward, Dugan feels Sandlin possesses the ideal skill set for Bellarmine's offense. "Courtney has the ability to step out on the perimeter and hit shots, but she's not afraid to get in the paint and mix it up. And it's not all about scoring with her; she is also an excellent passer at the post."
A prolific scorer, Hardin rewrote the record book as a junior at Wayne County, breaking the single-season record for points, field goals, and free throws as a junior. Averaging 18.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.5 steals, Hardin led the Lady Cardinal to a district championship while earning all-district and all-region honors and an invitation to the Kentucky Junior All-Star Basketball Team.
As good as a scorer as Hardin is, it was her defense that caught Dugan's attention. "She is an absolute warrior on defense. She has the ability to lockdown an opposing player and then has the versatility to play both guard positions as well as out on the wing."
Playing for state champion DuPont Manual, Curry averaged 6.6 points, and 2.7 rebounds, leading the Rams to a 37-2 record. The sixth man on a loaded Rams squad that featured four players that signed with Div.-I schools last season, as well as classmate Kayla Styles who is committed to Xavier, Curry is poised for a breakout senior campaign according to Manual coach Stacy Pendleton, a sentiment that Dugan echoed."Destony is a savvy point guard who will make sure her teammates are in the right places offensively. As a point guard you want someone out there who is a vocal leader and Destony fits that bill."
Keeton, who is already enrolled at Bellarmine, will not be eligible until January of 2014 due to NCAA transfer rules. The 6-3 post player started her collegiate career at Div.-I Furman averaging 3.0 points and 2.1 rebounds in 21 appearances before playing last season at Barry University in Miami. At Barry, Keeton averaged 3.7 points and 1.6 rebounds and but was a defensive force in the paint, best displayed in a victory over Florida Tech when the Worthington, Ky. native blocked 7 shots.
"She's a physical post player and a good rebounder." Dugan added that she will be a compliment to other inside-outside posts, "She scores well with her back to the basket and as a transfer she will be able to come in and hit the ground running."
Dugan hopes that the quintet will help her squad reload with the expected departure of five seniors from this year's squad.
Official release from Bellarmine Athletics