The college basketball season may have just ended, but that does not mean it is too early to look ahead.
A quartet of incoming freshmen – Deja Winters, Shadeen Samuels, Tyeisha Smith and Skyler Snider – have Tony Bozzella doing just that as the Pirates set their sights on the 2016-17 season.
“I’m very excited,” the Seton Hall coach said of his new recruits. “This is as excited as I’ve been in my 24 years for this recruiting class. We feel extremely fortunate to be able to get the talent level in the kids we got.”
Bozzella went on to speak about the impact each individual recruit will make as the Hall strives for a third straight NCAA Tournament in the coming year.
One of the first players the Pirates went after, the 5-foot, 11-inch Ohio native was named the Associated Press Division IV Player of the Year after averaging 27 points per game this past season. She also helped lead the Richmond Heights Spartans to a district tournament title game appearance and more 1,000 points for her high school career.
“Deja will bring a lot of athleticism and the ability to score the ball at a high level, but could turn into a tremendous defender as well,” Bozzella said of Winters. “I expect her to have an immediate impact on our program.”
Samuels, a 6-foot forward who hails from Ossining, New York, almost went by the way sides of top recruiters due to an injury she faced the summer of her junior year.
“I think a lot of schools forgot about her,” Bozzella said. “If she would’ve played this summer, she would’ve been one of the top recruits in the country. Shadeen has a lot of the same abilities as Tab (Richardson-Smith). She’s not as athletic but she’s well ahead of where Tab was her freshman year.”
Samuels is the only player in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association history to win four Class AA state titles. Samuels also won two tournament MVP honors in 2014 and 2016. She helped Ossining finish at an impressive 28-2 record and go on to win their first-ever Federation Championship this season. Samuels was also named Section 1’s “Miss Basketball.”
A 5-foot, 9-inch shooting guard from Maryland, Smith averaged 20.5 points as she helped St. Frances Academy win its first A Conference title in six years. Smith’s standout senior season also earned her All-Metro Player of the Year honors.
“I love Ty’s ability to play on and off the ball defensively,” Bozzella said. “Her motor is very good, she’s in tremendous shape, she can shoot the three well, and she reminds me a lot of Aleesha (Powell). I think she can be an “Aleesha’ type of player.”
At 5-foot, 11-inches, Snider is capable of playing both guard and forward. A native of Kearney,
Nebraska, the wing averaged 20.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game in her final season at Kearney High School. With 1,453 career points to her name, Snider finished her high school career as Kearney’s all-time leading scorer. She also set the school’s single-season scoring record with 510 points.
“I was very excited when I saw Skyler play,” Bozzella said. “You think of a mid-western player from Nebraska and that’s what she is. She’s tough, physical. She’s a confident kid who plays really, really hard. I think she’ll come in and play good solid minutes.”
Within a matter of months, all four players will step foot in Walsh Gymnasium and officially become a part of the Seton Hall women’s basketball program. Their coach believes they are ahead of where most young players in their position are.
“I think they come in well ahead of where most freshmen in college come in at,” Bozzella said. “Their skill level is well ahead, but their mentality is all about winning and playing hard. They’re winners and I think they’ll assimilate themselves very quickly into the program.”
Olivia Mulvhill can be reached at Olivia.firstname.lastname@example.org. edu or on Twitter @OliviaMulvihill