Lady Raiders Sign Five Student-Athletes to National Letters of Intent
Nov. 10, 1999
LUBBOCK, Texas - The Lady Raider basketball team has signed five standout high school basketball players to National Letters of Intent today to attend Texas Tech University in the fall of 2000. They are Jolee Ayers (Canyon), Dionne Brown (Georgetown), Casey Jackson (Amarillo), Jia Perkins (Granbury) and Natalie Ritchie (Amarillo).
“I can’t tell you how excited I am about signing these five outstanding players,” said head coach Marsha Sharp. “I think they are going to be terrific in our program. I like them for a variety of reasons. As a group I have been so amazed with their chemistry. We had a chance to have them at our camp this summer and they were all here on their official visit together. It’s like they have been best friends all their lives and that is so unusual to find in a group of highly-recruited athletes who come in and see each other for the first time. I think that speaks volumes on what team players they are and how much fun we are going to have coaching them. They bring a lot of different things as individuals but I think the thing that they bring as a group is that they understand how to compete and they are the ultimate team players. They will have great careers at Texas Tech.
“Something that has been special for me is that all of them come from outstanding programs and their coaches are some of the most well respected coaches in the state of Texas. I think they not only come with a lot of athletic ability but with a lot of skills.”
Jolee Ayers is a 6-2 forward who attends Canyon High School in Canyon. As a junior, Ayers averaged 16.5 points per game while adding 8.0 rebounds and three assists. She shot 67 percent from the field and 75 percent from the free throw line. Last year she was named first team all-district, all-region and all-state. Ayers was honorable mention All-America, while receiving AAU All-American status and was a BCI All-American and Most Valuable Player of the BCI summer tournament.
“Jolee is the ultimate warrior,” said Sharp. “She comes everyday with same look on her face and the same approach. I’ve seen her do that with her high school team, her AAU team and at our camps. She is a great passer and understands the game as well as any post girl I’ve watched play in the last several years. I think she will be able to shoot it from the perimeter as well as do a lot of things with it on the block. She will bring a lot of skills as well as a lot of athletic talent.”
From Georgetown High School comes 6-2 forward Dionne Brown. Brown averaged 19.6 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 3.8 blocks per game during her junior year, while shooting 54 percent from the floor and 72 percent from the charity stripe. Last year her team advanced three rounds in the playoffs after winning District 13-5A. Brown was district MVP as a junior and also earned first team all-region and second team all-state honors.
“Dionne is one of the most athletic players that we may have ever signed,” Sharp said. “She is a great jumper and has a great body to be a Division I post player. I think all of her best basketball is in front of her and I think her high school coaches would say that as well. She is a little bit young in the game itself and I think she is getting better and better.”
5-11 forward Casey Jackson attends Amarillo Palo-Duro High School where she averaged 20 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two blocks in her junior season. She was named District 3-4A Most Valuable Player and first team all-state, while being named an AAU All-American and to the Amarillo Globe News Super Team as a junior. Jackson was also named to the All-Tournament teams at the Wichita Falls Fantasy of Lights tournament and at the Duncanville Tournament last season.
“Casey in one of the better defensive players in the country,” said Sharp. “She was an AAU All-American and a lot of that came from her play on the defensive end of the floor. She will develop into an outstanding perimeter scorer. She shoots the 10, 12, 15-footer jumper right now extremely well and we hope that we can add the three-point shot to her arsenal.”
Jia Perkins is a 5-7 guard who attends Granbury High School. As a junior, she averaged 20.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 4.8 steals and 7.2 steals per outing, while shooting 56 percent from the field, 80 percent from three-point range and 70 percent from the foul line. Perkins ranked first among the state’s top 50 players in the Class of 2000 by Texas Girls Basketball Report. She earned all-state honors and was District 6-4A Offensive Player of the Year and the Fort Worth All-Metro team MVP as a junior. She also ranked 43rd among the nation’s top 500 Class of 2000 players in the All-Star Girls Report’s end-of-summer ratings.
“Jia brings a lot to the table since she can play all three positions at the perimeter,” said Sharp. “She is extremely athletic, a great passer, a good scorer and is the complete package as a perimeter player. We have been so impressed in her ability to put a team on her shoulders and carry them. I think she has done that some at the high school level and some in the summer. I think she will be a very special player in our program.”
5-10 guard Natalie Ritchie averaged 25.6 points and five rebounds a game as a junior at Amarillo High. She was the first Amarillo girl’s basketball player to score more than 2,000 points. Ritchie was named District 3-5A Co-Most Valuable Player, first team all-state and the Amarillo Globe News Super Team’s Player of the Year, while being named an AAU All-American and a Nike All-American during junior year. She was also a USA Today honorable mention selection and a Street and Smith honorable mention honoree. Ritchie was also named all-state by the Texas Basketball Magazine three-straight years.
“I think Natalie is the best shooting guard in the nation,” said Sharp. “I think most everybody that has watched this class play in the summers have that same feel. I don’t know if I have ever seen a female basketball player who can elevate and shoot the jumper the way she can. She can shoot it a couple of feet outside the three-point line. I think it is kind of rare to find a scorer who is also the ultimate team player. I think you get the best of both worlds with her. I think she will be an explosive offensive player from the moment she walks onto this campus and will be a big part of what we are doing.”