Nov. 15, 2012
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss women's coach Joye Lee-McNelis announce the signing of Brittanny Dinkins of Miami, Fla., Alex Coyne of Lake Placid, Fla., Ashley Folsom of Deltona, Fla., Voche' Martin of Desoto, Texas, Kierra Jordan of Jackson, Miss., and Lashyra Cotton of Cleveland, Miss., to national letters of intent and grant-in-aid scholarships for the 2013-14 academic year.
"This is the one of the best and most diverse recruiting classes we have signed since I have returned to Southern Miss," McNelis said. "I believe this class has the potential to be a group that will impact our program both on and off the floor immediately. They all believe that our philosophy of being a difference maker in our community will develop them as people and prepare them for the next step in their life."
Dinkins, a 5-7, point guard, is ranked No. 88 in the nation according to Jumpoffplus.com and is the No. 91 rated player overall and No. 20 in the point guard position according to by ESPN HoopsGurlz. She plays at Norland High School where she is currently averaging 17.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 4.0 steals per game for Coach Carla Harris. She scored a season-high 21 points against Miami. She earned first team all-state and first team all-Dade County accolades. She was named her team's offensive player of the year as her team finished as the state runner-up. She played for the national champion Miami Sun Team Fowls. She garnered a 4-star rating and a 92 grade.
"I chose USM because of the loyalty that was shown to me throughout the process," said Dinkins. "Coach D recruited me for a long time and I loved my visit, the team, the coaches, the people, and the city of Hattiesburg. It felt like home."
According to high school coach Carla Harris, "I have watched Brittanny grow since she was in the 6th grade. She has become not only a student of the game but a student of life. USM has signed a DIAMOND! Britta will P.U.S.H. her team through adversity to success. She is a joy to coach."
"We are excited to have signed a top 100 player in the country in Brittanny," said McNelis. "She is the 20th ranked guard in the country. She possesses an uncanny ability to score the ball. She is the perfect fit for our program because of the graduation of senior Tanecka Carey. Britt will bring an explosive play offensively and defensively. There is no doubt Brittanny will impact our program. She is a winner and brings the understanding at what it takes to win at a high level. We gladly welcome Britt to the Lady Eagle Family."
Coyne, a 5-5, Guard, averaged 15.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 7.2 assists and 5.5 steals per game as a junior for Coach Jackie Coyne Lake Placid High School. She earned all-section honors and was voted her team captain. She also earned letters in cross country and was tabbed the cross country Runner of the Year. She also was a member of the National Honor Society and was a member of the honor roll.
"I chose USM because when I visited, I absolutely fell in love," Coyne said. "I felt immediate acceptance from the team and coaches. I felt a family atmosphere and fell in love with the campus, the team, and coaching staff. One thing that helped with my decision is that after I left, the team stayed in touch with me. It was so important to me that I wasn't just a recruit to them, I was a potential future teammate and they treated me like a little sister. USM is a home away from home for me and my parents are comfortable letting me spend the next four years of my life at USM and that was important to me. I cannot wait to see what the future holds."
Coyne plans to majoring in pre-med or biology.
According to Coach Jackie Coyne, "Alex is one of the hardest working, driven young ladies that I have ever had the privilege to coach. Her commitment, her dedication, her work ethic, and her determination have made her the amazing young lady that she has become. She is successful both on and off the court. She excels academically and athletically all because she works and gives 110%. She is a leader, humble, and pure hearted, and it has been an honor to be a part of this young lady's basketball career since the 3rd grade. This is what she has worked and sacrificed for."
"We are thrilled to have Alex become part of our Lady Eagle Family," said McNelis. "Alex is a true basketball player. She has a high basketball I.Q. and is expected to impact our program at the point guard position. Alex is a coach's daughter and has been around the game since birth. She understands the big picture. She will be a tremendous asset to Lady Eagle Basketball."
Folsom, a 6-3, forward, averaged 17.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocked shots while shooting 52 percent from the field and 78 percent from the free throw line as a junior at Father Lopez High School. She earned all-state accolades and named to the all-district first team. She was also named to the Daytona Beach News Journal all-area team as well as the Orlando Sentinel All-Central Florida Third team. She ranked fifth in scoring and rebounding in Volusia County and second in blocked shots. Folsom received 2012 Father Lopez offensive award while playing for Coach Brad Ridenour. She helped her team finish 26-3 last season while winning the district.
"My next door neighbor attended Southern Miss many years ago and she has always spoken very highly about the school," Folsom said. "When I took my official visit to the school, I finally understood why she loves it so much. All of the faculty and staff were very friendly and the campus is beautiful. When I met all of the coaches in person, I felt like I fit in and they all made me feel at home. I also got along really well with the players and knowing that one of my good friends from AAU was probably going to commit there also, I felt even better that this was the right choice. I was sure after my visit that Southern Miss was the place for me and I didn't want to take any more official visits. My AAU coach told me I need to find a school that I will like even if I wasn't playing basketball and one where I feel comfortable; I found that at Southern Miss. I am so excited to play for Coach McNelis, Coach Reed, and Coach Dupuy and play with all of the girls on the team."
Folsom played AAU with the Blue Star Florida team that finished with a 36-9 record under for Coach Lisa Nuxol Wilson.
According to Coach Brad Ridenour, "Ashley has a unique style of play for her size. Her mid-range game emulates a European style of play. She is one of the best mid-range shooters for a post player that I have ever seen. Ashley takes pride in working hard on a daily basis on and off of the court, and she strives daily to become an overall better person in all areas of her life. I am very excited for her and her family for her opportunity to continue her basketball career at Southern Miss."
"We are so excited to have Ashley become a part of our Lady Eagle Family," McNelis said. "Ashley brings a tremendous work ethic and an attitude when you rest on a play - I'm not. Her relentless competitiveness gives her an edge on opponents. Ashley gives us depth and an added component with the attitude of `workers win.' We are excited to have Ashley."
"We dipped down into the state of Florida to snag three of Florida's top senior prospects," said McNelis. "To head that list is Top 100 in the country Brittanny Dinkins who is also noted 20th best guard in the country out of Miami Norland High School. Brittanny was the most sought after prospect we signed and believe she will be one of the most explosive guards on our team. Along with Brittanny is 6'3" center Ashley Folsom, who competes every possession, and 5'6" guard Alex Coyne, who can help lead the Lady Eagles at the point guard position and is also a daughter of a Coach--her mom . Ashley and Alex are going to bring a mentality of compete every play prepare daily to always be their best. They were AAU teammates who played for Blue Star Florida Elite and led them to a successful summer, while Brittanny Dinkins played for Miami Suns Fowls who won a national title."
Martin, a 6-3 forward, is currently playing a Paris Junior College. She played her first season the University of Houston where she played in 28 of 29 games. While at Houston, she averaged 2.5 points and 3.3 rebounds in 13.5 minutes. She led the team in field goal percentage.
Martin prepped at Duncanville High School under coach Cathy Self-Morgan, helping the Panthers to a combined 57-3 record and back-to-back district and regional championships. She was named second team all-district as a senior, while earning first team all-academic. She averaged 4.2 points and 3.2 rebounds as a senior. She also earned three letters in volleyball.
"We then turned to experience to give this class its final touches," said McNelis. "Voche' Martin, 6'3" forward out of Paris Junior College, knows C-USA well as she played at University of Houston as a freshman. Voche' is a skilled post player that is craft y around the basket and will be able to help fill the loss of senior Ance Celmina. Voche' is considered one of the top JUCO prospects in the country."
Kierra Jordan, a 6-0, Power Forward, is a repeat Clarion Ledger Dandy Dozen. She averaged 18.2 points and 12.0 rebounds as a junior at Lanier High School where she helped her team win a state championship as a sophomore. While at Lanier, Jordan helped compile 59 wins. Jordan scored a season-high 31 points against Wingfield and had a season-best 18 rebounds against McComb last season. She was named best offensive player in the all-star game.
"I chose Southern Miss because I felt that it was the best fit for me," Jordan said. "I'm not too far away from home and I will still the support of my family. This summer we went to the elite camp, the coaches and players were very nice. I felt that I was at home. I also chose Southern Miss because I will have a chance to play where I am comfortable. SMTTT!"
"Kierra will bring strength and a win at all cost mentality to our program," McNelis said.
Cotton, a 5-11, small forward, averaged 18.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.1 steals and 3.0 blocks per game as a junior to lead East Side High School where she led her team to a 25-4 record. She scored a career-high 33 points against Shaw. She also a standout in track, earning all-state honors. Cotton also is a Clarion Ledger Dandy Dozen and a Mississippi All-Star.
"The University of Southern Mississippi is a beautiful campus and Hattiesburg is a great community that gave me a down home family feeling," said Cotton. "I believe I will receive a quality education from one of the best institutions in the state. I fell in love with the campus, coaches, and players. USM is a great fit for me"
"Lashyra can get to the rim, shoot the three ball and post up," said McNelis. "She is the daughter of a coach (her dad Coach Cotton is the boys coach at Cleveland East High School) and understands what it takes to be successful on the court."
"As we began to evaluate our team's needs, we set goals as a staff and made a pact that together, we were going to go the extra mile to make sure we gave ourselves the opportunity to sign our top prospects at each position," McNelis said. "We wanted to sign Mississippi's top seniors - in Kierra Jordan and Lashyra Cotton - and then look beyond to fill our needs. Lashyra Cotton is the most versatile player in the state of Mississippi and is considered the top senior athlete as she won state titles in track and field in the 400 meters, 800 meters and high jump."
"As a staff, we believe this class can impact our program at every position," said McNelis. "They are very good students and great people who possess high character and a passion to excel in all phases of their life. We are truly blessed to have these six young ladies become a part of our Lady Eagle Family."
Lashyra Cotton, 5-11, Forward, Cleveland, Miss. (East Side HS)
Alex Coyne, 5-5, PG, Lake Placid, Fla. (Lake Placid HS)
Brittanny Dinkins, 5-7, G, Miami, Fla. (Norland HS)
Ashley Folsom, 6-3, F, Deltona, Fla., (Father Lopez HS)
Kierra Jordan, 6-0, Forward, Jackson, Miss. (Lanier HS)
Voche' Martin, 6-3, F, Desoto, Texas (Paris Junior College/Houston)