UTEP Women's Basketball Adds Three, Including National Scoring Leader
POSTED: Wednesday, April 27, 2011 - 2:38pm
UPDATED: Monday, July 18, 2011 - 3:40pm
The UTEP women’s basketball team has added three more players to its 2011 recruiting class, head coach Keitha Adams announced Wednesday. Point guard Ryah Lacy, who led Grayson County College to a fifth-place finish nationally, guard Melisa Mendes, who secured all-conference honors for Northwest Florida State College, and Jenzel Nash, who paced the nation in scoring at the prep level for Worthing High School, have signed national letters of intent to attend UTEP and join the women’s basketball team for the 2011-12 campaign.
“I’m very excited about these young ladies joining our team,” Adams said. “They have experienced winning, which we really like having that experience and mentality coming to our team. We look forward to playing an up-tempo style next year. We feel that this year’s class brings that ability and the added depth which will allow us to do so. We are looking forward to the 2011-12 season.”
Lacy, who will have three years of eligibility at UTEP, was a key to GCC (31-3) earning a bid to 2011 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I national championship. The 5-6 PG registered 9.6 points per game, 6.1 assists per game, 3.9 rebounds per game and 2.3 steals per contest to secure second-team all-conference accolades. She finished sixth in the country in assists.
Previously Lacy was a three-year letterwinner for Duncanville High School (Duncanville, Texas). The Lady Panthers forged a combined record of 93-20, including 31-7 within league play, during her career.
“Ryah is a very quick and athletic guard,” Adams said. “Her ability to handle and distribute the basketball is outstanding. She will defend and compete to the fullest.”
A native of Everux, France, Mendes ranked second on her squad in scoring (10.2 ppg) while also pitching in 2.5 apg, 2.4 rpg and 1.9 spg on the way to reaping 2011 first-team All-Panhandle conference accolades. The 5-9 two guard connected on 45 percent of her attempts from the floor, and she drilled 46 three pointers.
“Melisa is an upsize guard who has the ability to shoot the basketball extremely well,” Adams said. “She is very coachable and brings a great demeanor to our program.”
She helped guide NWF State to a record of 24-7 overall, including a 7-5 mark in league play that propelled the squad to a second-place finish in both the conference and state. The Lady Pirates, who are led by head coach Patrick Harrington, were ranked for most of the year and finished eighth in the final NJCAA Coaches’ top-25 poll.
“She is an athletic guard who will bring a lot of versatility to UTEP,” Harrington said. “Melisa had an outstanding year for us. She is a great kid and a team player. Coach Adams has done a phenomenal job of building a winning tradition at UTEP, and Melisa has a skill set to help in the future.”
Nash poured in 37.7 ppg to lead the nation in scoring for the high school girls’ regular season in 2010-11, which was aided by a campaign-high 64 points against Booker T. Washington. The 5-7 guard also posted game averages of 8.7 rebounds, 5.4 steals and 4.4 assists, and was voted as VYPE Magazine’s Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year.
“Jenzel is a great competitor who plays extremely hard,” Adams said. “Obviously her ability to score is a great strength. We look forward to her being a part of our team.”
The Houston native’s efforts helped the squad post a mark of 20-7 as a senior, which was the fourth straight 20+ victory season during Nash’s prep career. WHS, under the direction of head coach Leslie Harris, secured the district championship with a mark of 10-1.
Nash stormed onto the scene as a freshman in 2007-08, tallyi
ng 16.7 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2.1 spg and 1.2 apg to help her squad go 21-12. She jumped up to 24.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 3.6 spg and 2.3 apg as a sophomore before piling up 27.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 5.2 apg and 4.5 spg as a junior.
“UTEP is going to get a fantastic individual,” Harris said. “Jenzel is a very hard worker who is committed to achieving even more. She has a lot of growth for improvement, but she is willing to accept it. I feel really comfortable with her going to UTEP. She is going to be in good hands.”