Nov. 13, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. --- The Georgia Lady Bulldogs signed a quartet of premier prep prospects – Jasmine Carter, Haley Clark, Mackenzie Engram and Nasheema Oliver – to national letters-of-intent to play basketball collegiately for the University of Georgia on Wednesday, the first day of the NCAA's weeklong early signing period.
"I think overall this is a good class," head coach Andy Landers said. "We were able to sign the positions that we needed to sign. I think we've helped ourselves on both the front line and the backcourt. There's size. There's speed. There's quickness. Generally speaking, our objectives are met with this class, and I think it fits very well with the team that we will have returning next season."
Carter is a 5-8 guard from Dacula, Ga., and Atlanta's St. Pius X Catholic High School. She has been rated as one of nation's top-20 shooting guards by both ESPN Hoopgurlz (No. 18) and Prospect Nation (No. 20).
"Jasmine is one of those kids who's good to go when she walks in the door every day," Landers said. "She's physically tough. She's mentally tough. She has good work ethic. She's versatile. She can play more than one position. In fact, she can probably play any one of the three positions on the perimeter, which is certainly going to be an asset to us and to her."
A year ago, Carter averaged 15.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.2 steals and 1.7 assists per game while helping St. Pius to a 30-3 record and the Georgia 3A State Championship. She transferred to St. Pius last season after scoring a combined 854 points in her freshman and sophomore seasons at Mill Creek High School.
"Jas has really been the consummate team player since she's been here," St. Pius coach Kyle Snipes said. "She's done anything we've asked her to do and we've asked her to do a lot. Last season, she started the season on the wing but we asked her to move to the point. She did so knowing that her looks would drop and her shot attempts would go down. Jas readily accepted the change and that really helped propel us to the success that we had the rest of the season."
Clark is a 5-9 point guard and a four-year starter at Edgewater High School in Orlando, Fla. She is ranked as the No. 24 point guard in the Class of 2014 by ESPN Hoopgurlz.
"Haley has great size and length at the point, and she also brings a very good skill set," Landers said. "She's 5-9, has long arms and the physical abilities to defend. She ought to be able to get in your grill. She's very creative and has a great point guard mentality. Her eyes are always on the floor and always on her teammates, and she gives us a size and a presence that we don't have and haven't had for some time at the point."
Clark has helped Edgewater to back-to-back Florida 6A State Championships in 2012 and 2013. As a junior, she averaged 14.0 points, 4.1 assists, 2.7 steals and 2.6 rebounds per game. The previous season, Clark averaged 9.2 points, 4.2 assists, 3.2 steals and 2.0 rebounds per game.
"Haley has great height for a guard," Edgewater coach Malcolm Lewis said. "She has great ball-handling skills and can impact any and every part of the game. She's strong enough to rebound and skilled enough to go the length of the floor with the ball in her hands. She can set and run our offense when necessary. She's strong to the basket but also has a great mid-range shot and can shoot it all the way out the three. She's a solid defender. Haley is just a very solid all-around player."
Engram is a 6-2 forward from Powder Springs, Ga., and Hillgrove High School. She is ranked as one of the nation's top-50 overall prospects by two recruiting services – No. 38 by Prospect Nation and No. 41 by Blue Star– and a top-75 prospect by two more – No. 71 by ESPN Hoopgurlz and No. 72 by the Girls Basketball Report.
"Mackenzie is really gifted," Landers said. "She's one of those forwards who can face and play in many ways like a perimeter player. She has the ability to go back to the basket, but she also have the ability to face up out to three. She's talented, can score it, can rebound it, has excellent mobility. Mackenzie is just an excellent prospect."
Engram was tabbed first-team All-State by the Georgia Sports Writer's Association for Class 6A last season after averaging 19.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.6 steals and 2.1 blocks per game. As a sophomore, Engram helped Hillgrove to a runner-up finish in the 6A State Tournament.
"Mackenzie has been so valuable for us," Hillgrove coach Susan Milam said. "She's so versatile. She's not your typical big kid. She's very mobile. She's able to bring the ball down the court, she can shoot from the outside and of course she's a great presence in the paint. Above that, she's been a great leader. She gets along well with all her teammates and they respect her. They respond to her because Mackenzie is a positive leader. She does a great job of getting our team ready to go."
Oliver is a 6-3 forward from Crisp County High School in Cordele, Ga. She is listed as the No. 18 prospect in the nation by Blue Star, as well as No. 37 by Prospect Nation, No. 58 by ESPN Hoopgurlz and No. 59 by the Girls Basketball Report.
"Nasheema defies logic," Landers said. "You look at her and you wouldn't think that she's as mobile or even as graceful as she is. But she is. She can play you inside. She can play you outside. She can score. She's an excellent rebounder. To say that she could be a presence inside is somewhat of an understatement."
Oliver averaged 20.0 points and 10.0 rebounds per game as a junior at Crisp County. As a sophomore, she earned second-team All-State recognition for Class AAA by the Georgia Sports Writer's Association. As a freshman, Oliver helped Crisp County advance to the semifinals of the Georgia 3A State Tournament after entering the tourney with a 12-14 record.
"We're extremely proud of Nasheema for earning the opportunity to go to a Division I school and very happy that she's chosen to stay in state and play for the University of Georgia," Crisp County coach Barrett Wilkes said. "Hopefully, she'll have a great year for us. Nasheema is a great player. She has great feet and great hands. She can shoot it inside and outside. She can get up and down the floor. For a player her size, everything she does is very impressive."
The Georgia Lady Bulldogs have long been one of the nation's premier programs. Georgia ranks second nationally in both NCAA Tournament appearances (30) and weeks ranked by the Associated Press (501). Georgia has reached 20 "Sweet 16s", 11 "Elite Eights", five Final Fours and finished as NCAA runner-up in both 1985 and 1996. No less than 16 Lady Bulldogs have been selected in the past 13 WNBA Drafts. All told, 38 Georgia players have gone on to play professionally, including 24 in the WNBA.