November 14, 2011

SPORTS: Basketball Programs Sign Three Each For 2012-13

by Candis Cunningham and Michael Hadley

Both the men's and women's basketball programs signed three impressive recruits, creating quite the buzz for the future of each team and their first year head coaches.

Todd Howard signed three new Jaguars on “Signing Day” for his first full recruiting class as the head coach. On Nov. 9, Elijah Ray, Linwood Ross, Jr., and Cortell Busby signed their National Letter of Intent to attend IUPUI and the three will officially be freshman for the Fall Semester of 2012.

“We’re extremely excited to welcome these three young men to our Jaguar basketball family,” Coach Todd Howard said. “They all come from winning programs and great families and have had a high level of success in the classroom. They fit our needs and standards here at IUPUI are exactly what we look for in our student-athletes.”

Elijah Ray hails from Gary Indiana’s Bowman Academy. The 6’6” forward helped lead his team to a 2010 Class A IHSAA state title and shot 48 percent from behind the arc that year. As a junior he finished the season 55 percent from three-point range.

Ray clearly possesses excellent shooting skills and will help the Jags significantly as their primary three-point shooter Sean Esposito’s years are ending. He succeeds in the classroom as well with a 3.9 GPA.

Cortell Busby comes from Lewisville High School (South Carolina) and is now in his year of postgraduate learning at Fishburne Military School. The 6’2” lefty guard has a scroll of accomplishments with the most recent playing in the North Carolina-South Carolina All-Star Classic after his senior season. Busby was a two-time First Team All-Area pick and three-time First Team All-Region selection. Hitting 49.5 percent from the floor and ending his high school years with 2,111 points, IUPUI is grateful that the 2011 Enquirer Herald Player of the Year committed to the Jags instead of UT-Chattanooga, Missouri State and Boston College.

“He’s a great point guard with a knack for scoring and is one of the best leaders I’ve ever been around. He’s a leader personified,” Howard said. “He’s a coach’s son and he’s currently the leader of a talent-laden, nationally ranked Fishburne Military School team. In the classroom, he epitomizes what we look for in student-athletes.”

His leadership may be similar to Alex Young’s, whose dominance on the court is just as meaningful in practice and off the court.

Linwood Ross is a 6’4” guard from Westminster Academy in Florida. The versatile athlete averaged 21.3 points per game and ranked top in the category of elite players in the Miami-Dade counties according to the Miami Herald. He was a Second Team All-State pick for Class 1A-3A and First Team All-SAAC Conference. He also earned Westminster’s Carl A. Peterson Athlete of the Year, Jack Mowday Leadership and C.L.A.S.S. Awards for basketball.

The three athletes have plenty of accolades and accomplishments under their belts. Two are top players from the state and all three shoot well and can create scoring options. Academic success and leadership are attractive qualities all signees possess. When this year’s season ends and three senior players graduate, the Jags will be looking forward to incorporating such versatility in skill and natural leadership into its establishment.


On the women's side, head coach Austin Parkinson was able to nab three of the state's top recruits for his  first official recruiting class at the helm of the program.

Nicole Rodgers, Akilah Sims and Shawnece Teague, all from the Hoosier state, will be freshman starting next fall.

Rodgers (Kokomo, Western High School) is a 5'11" wing player who tallied an impressive 21 points, 8.5 rebounds, and shot a school-record 46.9 percent from three. Her accolades were enough to propel her to being named the Kokomo Times All-Area Most Valuable Player award, in addition to making the Indiana Junior All-Star team. Other accomplishments include being a three-time (in three years) all-conference selection, three-time all-area selection and an IBCA Underclass First-Team All-State selection.

She has scored over 30 points five times in 2010-2011 and passed 1,000 points all time as a junior.

“In my opinion, Nicole has proven to be one of the top scorers in all of Indiana and may be the top three-point threat in the Midwest,” Parkinson said. “Her height and length at the guard position can provide match-up problems at the college level.”

IUPUI picked up a nationally-ranked recruit in Sims (Fort Wayne, R. Nelson Snider High School). The junior is one of the most talked-about players in all of Indiana, and is ranked 24th nationally at her position by ESPN HoopGurlz. The 5'10" forward averaged 16.1 points and 7.7 rebounds last year, and is on pace to be in the top three for points and rebounds at Snider.

Sims was an Indiana Junior All-Star, been named to the all-Northeast Indiana first-team and is a two-time unanimous first-team all-conference selection. She also boasts impressive accomplishments in volleyball and track.

“As we continue to increase our team speed, Akilah’s athleticism and ability to sprint the floor adds a different dimension to the program,” Parkinson said. “Defensively, Akilah can guard multiple positions and has a knack for rebounding the basketball.”

Teague is a two-time Indiana State Champion with Ben Davis, and at 6'3" blocked 33 shots in the Giant's 24-1 season last year. Those recognizing her name are right to do so as her cousins are Jeff Teague (Atlanta Hawks) and Marquis Teague (Kentucky Wildcats).

“Shawnece comes from a winning program and understands what it takes to be successful,” Parkinson added. “I’ve been very impressed with her development in the post over the last year and can say with confidence that her best basketball is ahead of her. To be able to get a player with her size and athleticism at our level is special."

All three will help Coach Parkinson develop his fast-paced style further, and each has a bright future in a Jaguar uniform.

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