Head Coach Fred Batchelor
Head Coach Fred Batchelor

June 8, 2005

PRINCESS ANNE, MD - The University of Maryland Eastern Shore's women's basketball program has announced the addition of seven new players to its roster. Head Coach Fred Batchelor and his coaching staff are very excited about the quality of players they have brought to UMES and feel that this class of recruits will provide the much needed depth to join the much improved returnees from last season.

With the departure of point guard Erica Bennett to graduation and the loss of Kolade Aderoju, who is transferring from UMES, the Lady Hawks were in desperate need of a floor leader. With only Alicia Loxen, who was a medical red-shirt, returning from last season's roster, Batchelor went out and brought in three lead guards that have all the tools to play at the Division I level.

Leading the pack will be Danielle Cooper, who will make her impact off the court as she will fulfill her residence requirement as a transfer student from Manhattan College. Cooper played one full season of Division I basketball at Manhattan College where she earned MAAC conference Rookie-of-the-Week honors for her play the week of January 11, 2004. It was the first time a player from Manhattan had received the honor since 2001-02.

In high school, Cooper guided The Dwight School to ACIS championships and GISAC championships from 1999 to 2002, and in 2000-01 she helped her team win the NYSIAA championship. She has earned many honors including an All-Manhattan second-team selection, New York State Sportswriters and Coaches Organization for Girls Sports Class-D Player of the Year honors, and a first-team selection in 2003.

"The hardest part will be having to sit her on the bench for a year," said coach Batchelor. "However, she will be the key to helping Alicia and DeVaughn this season and in the future she will be a very valuable talent for this program."

Joining Cooper and Loxen in the backcourt will be freshmen DeVaughn Hailey and Adrienne Brown. Hailey comes to Princess Anne, Maryland from Camden, New Jersey where she played at Woodrow Wilson High School.

Similar to Cooper, Hailey guided her team to multiple championships and was recognized with numerous honors. In four years at Camden, Hailey lost only one home game as she lead her team to Olympic National Championships (2002-2005), a SJ Group III Championship (2005), a Group III State Championship (2005), a Courier Post Cup Championship (2005), Team of the Year honors (2005), a Tournament of Champions title (2005), and a 27-3 record in 2005.

Hailey even earned a black belt in Tang Soo Do in 1999. She averaged over 12 points and seven assists per game and scored a career-high 25 points against Ocean City in 2005 on her way to being named the 2005 Tournament of Champions MVP.

"Hailey is a very athletic, tough, competitive combo guard that will help at the point right away," said Batchelor. "She is the player we were looking for to change our defensive pressure around the arc."

Brown will be a walk-on player this season. She played high school basketball at Charles-Flowers High School before moving on to play prep school ball at the Patterson School. A terrific shooter, she averaged 14.9 points a game as was named team MVP in 2003-04 and also was recognized as an All-Star, All-County, All-Gazzette, and an All-Met honorable mention in 2004.

"Brown is another combo guard that will provide us with depth," said Batchelor. "She is a solid mid-range shooter with experience that will help her challenge for substantial playing time."

With the back-court seemingly stable, the Lady Hawks welcome guard/forward Tiffany Reid, who is probably the most talented signee in a class of very talented players. At 5'11", Reid can play anywhere from point to small forward. "She is a complete player who can rebound, score, dribble, and pass," said Batchelor.

Reid averaged 24 points and 12 rebounds a game while at National Christian Academy in Fort Washington, Maryland. "Reid will earn a lot of minutes throughout the season, but will have to learn the speed of the game before making significant contributions," said Batchelor. "But with her talent, we do not expect that to take very much time."

UMES not only added quality shooting and speed, but also gained some much needed size to compete with the top tier teams in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Jasmine Speed (5'11"), Almalika Lemon (6'1"), and Natalia Benton (6'3") will provide depth and size in the paint.

Speed, who is a bit undersized to play center, will be a solid force at the forward spot. Speed played at Anchor Bay High School in Chesterfield, Michigan where she led her team to a 19-4 record, their best since 1985.

In 2003, she was an All-Macomb County Class-A 3rd team selection, All-Blue Water 1st team selection, All-East honorable mention, Times Herald Athlete of the Week, Who's Who Among American Students, Team Defensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year. In 2004, she was again an All-Macomb County Class-A 3rd team selection, All-Blue Water 1st team selection, All-East honorable mention, Who's Who Among American Students, Team MVP and All-Academic. She was also a member of the Motor City Blazers AAU team.

"Speed is tough and physical, and will fill a hole we had in the paint last season," said Batchelor. "She can score on the perimeter and gives us the size we really need. She will challenge for minutes, but more importantly will be a consistent player for us over the next four years."

Lemon comes to UMES after two years of junior college basketball where she averaged a double-double last season. Before junior college she went to St. Michaels High School in New York City. She was named to the Old Navy/Adidas/Slam Jam 2001 Fall Classic All-Tournament Second Team and was the #6 ranked overall player in New York City in 2002.

"Lemon is an athletic and physically tough player with a nose for the ball," said Batchelor. "She is a tremendous offensive rebounder that can play small or power forward. The challenge for the coaching staff will be to see where she fits best on the floor."

Benton will join Kristi Veltkamp, both 6'3", and Daynese Stowe at the center position. She played high school basketball in Brooklyn, New York at Global Studies before moving on to Monroe Community College, where she helped guide her team to a division II national championship and was named to the tournament's first team.

At Monroe she scored 251 points and grabbed 271 rebounds in 29 games played. She was first on the team in rebounding and 34th in the nation, while ranking fourth on the team in scoring.

"Benton is a lefty shot blocker that runs the floor very well," said Batchelor. "Even at her size, she is the best athlete we have, which is saying a lot, because we have a lot of tremendous talent and athletic skill on this roster. Her experience in the post will add to our depth at center with Kristi and Daynese."

With the addition of seven new names to the roster, including four that have all four years of eligibility remaining. Coach Batchelor and his Lady Hawks will be an exciting team to watch this season and over the next few years to come.

"The thing about a recruiting class is that a majority of the players you bring in will not make a substantial impact in their first season," said Batchelor. "We bring these young women in so that they can make an impact over a four-year span. However, I would not be surprised if we as a team make a substantial step in becoming an elite program in the MEAC this season."