Nov. 9, 2011
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss women's coach Joye Lee-McNelis announce the signing of Samirah Ali of Hazel Crest, Ill., Jerontay Clemons of Coldwater, Miss., and Tiarra Pollnitz of Birmingham, Ala., to national letters of intent and grant-in-aid scholarships for the 2012-13 academic year.
"We are so excited about this recruiting class," McNelis said. "We have filled our perimeter need with three young ladies who are passionate about being "the best" in life. They are first class people who have excelled in the classroom, in the community, and on the court. They come from great families who have taught them "nothing is given" - you must work to make it happen. With their tremendous work ethic and leadership attitudes, all three have had much success on their high school teams and summer travel squads."
Ali, a 5-foot-2, guard, averaged 9.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.8 steals as a junior and helped Hillcrest High School to second in Illinois Class 3A for the second straight season. She was named all-tournament at Music City Madness, where she played last summer with the Illinois Lady Lightning.
"Samirah Ali is a point guard out of Hazel Crest, Ill." McNelis said. "As many have said, great things come in small packages and this is truly Samirah Ali. Samirah is one of the quickest guards I have ever seen play in my 27 years of coaching. She can get to the rim on most any opponent. This summer, her travel team, Illinois Lightning, competed in some high profile tournaments. Samirah turned the heads of many college scouts as she led her team vocally and got to the basket at any time. Samirah is expected to add depth to our point guard position. Samirah is a quality young lady who believes that "nothing is impossible." She is an undersized guard with a big heart and a passion to rise among the elite on and off the court."
"Ali said, "The University of Southern Mississippi is a great fit for me. USM has a diverse student body and offers a variety of programs that I am interested in. Southern Miss has a great coaching staff along with a great family atmosphere. I believe that I can contribute to USM's legacy on and off the court. I feel Southern Miss will offer me a balanced experience where I will be cared for as a person first, a student second, and an athlete third. I am glad to be a part of the Southern Miss family."
Clemons, a 5-foot-8, guard, averaged 25.7 points, 10.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 4.0 steals per game for Coach Wert Spiva at Coldwater High School. She earned all-state accolades from 2009 to 2011 while earning all-division and region honors from 2008 to 2011. She earned division MVP the past two seasons.
"Jerontay Clemons is one of Mississippi's best," McNelis said. "She is a two-time Dandy Dozen selection who was defensive player of the game in the Mississippi All-Star event this summer. She also won the first ever slam dunk contest. Jerontay is a winner. As an 8th grader, she started on the varsity squad at Coldwater High School and led them to a state title. She is a high powered scoring guard who scored 54 points in a game this past season. Her qualities as a person separate her from many as well as her competitive spirit and desire to win. She is expected to be a key in rebuilding Lady Eagle Basketball."
The two-time Dandy Dozen selection scored a career-high 54 points in a game. She currently has 2,157 career points. She won the first-ever girls' slam dunk contest. She also was a member of the 2011 state track and field championship team where she won the state championship in the 200 and 400 meters.
"I chose Southern Miss because I felt like I belonged there," Clemons said. "I love the atmosphere, coaches, campus, and my future teammates. They all made me feel at home. Most of all, I know that when I get there, they are going to take care of me and help me become the best student-athlete that I can be."
Spiva added, "Jerontay is a phenomenal player who we are all extremely proud of. She has accomplished so much here at Coldwater, and we are still pressing forward in her last year. She made a good choice in choosing Southern Miss; they have done an amazing job recruiting her. Once she attends Southern Miss, she will be, academically and athletically, a huge asset to USM."
Pollnitz, a 5-foot-9 guard, averaged 15.0 points, 7.4 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 3.4 steals per game for Coach Tonya Hunter at Shades Valley High School. She has earned numerous all-tournament teams honors over the past three seasons. She was selected for the Alabama High School Athletic Association North vs. South Game. She also earned first team all-metro accolades.
"Tiarra "Nunnie" Pollnitz is one of Alabama's top players and rated as a 3-star guard by Hoop Gurlz," said McNelis. "Nunnie was selected to play in the Alabama All-Star Game this past summer. Nunnie is a multi-dimensional guard that has the ability to rebound, score and defend. Her physical strength as a perimeter player makes it tough for opponents to guard. Nunnie is a great person with a beautiful smile that will compete with the best as she takes the court. We expect Nunnie to help fill the void of senior Rachel Vigers."
Pollnitz said, "I love the family like atmosphere. They made me feel like I'm at home with my family. They treated me like I was family and they barely knew me."
Hunter said, "Tiarra Pollnitz is an outstanding person that has chosen an outstanding university. I think this is a perfect fit for her as a student-athlete. Tiarra has led Shades Valley into three straight area championship titles and three-straight Sweet 16 appearances. I feel that Southern Miss is getting an outstanding player and person."
"My staff has done a tremendous job of bringing great people into our program," said McNelis. "All three of these young ladies will represent our university with class and dignity. They will make all of our alumni proud to call this group of young ladies "Southern Miss Lady Eagles."
2012-13 Women's Basketball Signees
Samirah Ali, 5-2, G, Hazel Crest, Ill./Hillcrest HS
Jerontay Clemons, 5-8, G, Coldwater, Miss./Coldwater HS
Tiarra Pollnitz, 5-9, G, Birmingham, Ala./Shades ValleyHS
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