In her first season as head coach, Laquanda Dawkins guided the Hornets to twenty-nine NAIA wins; including the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) Women's Championship: Southern Poly women top Loyola for second straight SSAC crown, 60-44.
MARIETTA, GA - Head Coach Laquanda D. Dawkins has announced the signing of Ashlie Billingslea, Myland Hull, Raquel Jones, Chase Morgan, Megan Nelson, Jacque Schadeck, Taylor Singleton, Dominique Smith and Madison Strickland to grant-in-aid to join the Hornets family and to help build on the program’s success.
"We are extremely excited about our first recruiting class," said Dawkins. "These student-athletes are a great addition to our new chapter as an NAIA program. We're anticipating great things based on the wealth of experience and accomplishments of this recruiting class, ranging from Academic Honor Roll and National Honor Society members, Scholar Athlete nominees, District MVPs, All-Tournament honors and All-State/Region honorees to playing in state tournaments, USA Today Player of the Week honors and McDonalds All-America nominees."
This year's large and talented signing class features student-athletes from four states and six local signings. The new Hornets will add to last year’s team members Tara Hay and Winnie Markey.
The Hornets concluded their 2010-11 campaign at the Women’s Basketball National Tournament, upsetting other teams in a back-and-forth battle. It was Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) that prevailed in the end to defeat Southern Poly (Ga.), 87-79. Season highlights also include a Division I victory, the team being named East Division Regular Season Champions. Marisa Stotler, a senior and the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, led all scorers with 18 points, and Southern Polytechnic State University won its second straight Southern States Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Championship with a 60-44 victory over Loyola University of New Orleans. Joining Stotler on the All-Tournament team were Brittany White and Crystal Davis.
Four SSAC opponents from this year's challenging schedule participated in the 2011 NAIA Division I Women's Basketball National Championship.
Please read below for bios on each student-athlete.
Jr • Guard • 5-6
Stephenson • Stone Mountain, GA
High School: First-team All-State honoree was recognized as a Georgia All-Star her senior year... Led the team to a 31-1 record and a trip to the class 5A state semi final her senior year... Had Stephenson ranked no. 5 in the nation by Sports Illustrated as a senior... Helped lead the Lady Jaguars to the state championship her freshman year... Led the team to the 2006 Final Four and the 2005 Elite Eight after lifting the team to regional championships in 2004, 2005, 2006, & 2007... McDonalds All-American nominee as well as a Street & Smith's honorable mention All-American... Member of Stephenson Academic Honor Roll as a sophomore, junior and senior.
At Chipola College: Averaged 11.4 pts, 4.4 Assists, and 2.5 steals a game... Shot 50 percent from behind the arc... Named to the Panhandle Conference
Second Team All-Conference Team... Part of the Chipola team that won the JUCO State Championship in 2008-09... Scored a season
best 27 points against Santa Fe Community College... Played one season for Chipola College in Marianna, Fl... Played for Coach
David Lane... Was on the Fall 2008 Honor Roll.
At Mississippi State: 2009-10 Medical Red-Shirt
Dawkins on Billingslea: “Ashlie attended a well-known girls basketball high school program in Georgia. She’s smart, active and sure of herself in the point guard position. Ashlie has a wealth of experience and considered by many one of the top point guards who played in the NJCAA. Her shooting precision and passing skills will have an immediate impact at SPSU. Ashlie's focus and dedication to her game and academics are a great fit for our up-and-coming women’s basketball program.”
Billingslea on SPSU: “I chose SPSU because of their elite team performance, coaching staff and academics. SPSU is close to home and I can be near my family. I am looking forward to being a part of this successful program! Go Hornets!”
Fr • Guard • 5-7
Hamilton • Memphis, TN
High School: Four-year letter winner... Named Whitehaven All-Academics team as a freshman and sophomore… Named All-Tournament Academics team as a freshman, sophomore and junior... Named MVP of Jamboree as a junior… Named to Adidas Girl’s All-Star team… Honor Roll student… Graduated in the top 30 percent of her class… Averages for senior year: 16.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.6 steals, 2.4 assists.
Dawkins on Hull: “Malynda is a well-rounded athlete. She is quick, has great speed and gets to the basket to score. She makes players around her better. We are so lucky to have such a talented guard join us. She captained her Hamilton High School team through her eagerness and determination. Her academic accolades are as impressive as her game. SPSU is proud to have such an accomplished student-athlete.”
Hull on SPSU: “I feel it’s the right fit, with the quality education and being a contributor to a strong basketball program.”
Sr • Guard • 5-6
Madison• Houston, TX
High School: Earned Player of the Week honors and was named USA Today Player of the Week...Named All-District...Made the honor roll and
graduated in the Top 10 percent of her class.
At Houston Baptist: Hit the most three-pointers (57) and had the best percentage (35%)… Scored career-high 28 points against Huston-Tillotson on Nov. 18, while also tying a program record for most threes in a game (eight with Cari Scaff)… Hit double-figures five times and hit at least five 3-pointers five times…Named Great West Honorable Mention All-Conference… Appeared in all 29 contests with 25 starts… Averaged 8.0 points per game...Her 54 three-pointers were a team high… Scored season-high 17 points at Northwestern on Nov. 20, where she also made season-high five three-pointers.
Dawkins on Jones: “Raquel has a wealth of experience. Her shooting reliability and skills at the guard spot are a wanted addition. We feel Raquel's shooting ability will have an immediate impact on the SPSU program this upcoming season. Raquel’s guidance and commitment makes players around her better. She has worked so hard, and grown so much on the basketball court and as a person throughout her basketball career.”
Jones on SPSU: “Southern Poly is in a great location and provides a small, home-like feel that an out-of-stater can appreciate.”
Sr • Forward/Center • 6-0
Reinhardt College • Jonesboro, GA
High School: Four-year letter winner in basketball and two years in volleyball… Attended Jonesboro High School as a freshman and sophomore and Woodward Academy as a junior and senior... Earned Most Improved Player as a sophomore… Garnered Defensive Player of the Year award… Named to the First Team All-Tournament team… Team Captain… National Honor Society Member.
At Reinhardt College: Ranks No.14 in NAIA Division II in Rebounds... Career averages: 73 Games Played, 5.3 Points, 5.6 Rebounds, 0.4 Assists, 0.7
Steals, 1.3 Blocks, 31.1% FG.
Dawkins on Morgan: “Chase is a athletic and physical player with rebounding abilities. She is another player that will only get better in our hi-lo game. We are excited to have a player of her ability and experience to round out our athletic low post game. ”
Morgan on SPSU: “Southern Polytechnic State is a place that embraces challenge, and I like the overall environment.”
Fr •Point Guard • 5-4
Miller Grove •Lithonia, GA
High School: Four-year letter winner… Named All-Tournament Academics team… Nominated for Player of the Year by D1Spects as a senior… 2011 Regional Tournament – 2nd place... 2011 State Playoffs – Elite 8… DeKalb County Senior All-Star team as a senior… DeKalb County Top 20 Player of the Year as a senior… Coach’s Award as a senior… Scholar Athlete Award as a junior and senior… 2011 Artistic Expression Award… Honor Graduate - Top 10 percent of her class… Averages for senior year: 7 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds per game and Free Throws - 71%… Season highs: Points: 20, Assists: 5, Steals: 6, Rebounds: 5
Dawkins on Nelson: “Megan is the true definition of a student-athlete, and she has really good leadership qualities. She’s a floor leader who has a well-rounded knowledge of the game. Megan possesses great ball-handling skills, and can create separation off the dribble. She is also a three-point threat. Nelson is going to be fun to watch in the near future.”
Nelson on SPSU: “The two major factors in my college decision were a good program in my career field and a good basketball coach that could develop my skills and help me reach the pinnacle of my potential as an athlete. SPSU offered both. And to top it off, I love the campus and it’s close to home.”
Fr • Guard • 5-7
High School: Four-year letter winner... Sophomore member of class AAA State runner-up Team...Team Record (29-4)… As a junior named First-Team All-Sub Region team, Second-Team All-North Georgia Chattanooga Times Free Press Team...Averaged 13.7 points and 7.5 rebounds... Scored season highs 24 points and 13 Rebounds... Team Record (24-6)...As a senior named First-Team All-Sub Region Team...First-Team All-Region team...Second-Team All-North Georgia Chattanooga Times Free Press Best of Preps Team...Averages for senior year: 15.6 points and 10.5 rebounds...Season highs: Points: 30 and Rebounds: 16...Team Record (15-12).
Dawkins on Schadeck: “Jacque is a knowledgeable and smooth athlete. The last few years Jacque has juggled playing multiple positions on her high school team and without hesitation accepted the roles. She is a gem that makes everyone around her better, and her work ethnic is excellent. Jacque will have an immediate impact on our team this coming season.”
Schadeck on SPSU: “ SPSU is a great school academically and athletically. I have no doubt that SPSU will lead me to success and greater things.”
Fr • Power Forward • 6-0
High School: Four-year letter winner... Team Captain... Chairman of the Boards Awards as a sophomore and junior... Second Leading Scorer Award... Averages for senior year: 17 Points, 15 Rebounds, 6 Assists, 3 Steals, 3 Blocks, 40% FG, 82.3% FT... Honor Roll Student as a freshman, sophomore, junior and senior... Parliamentarian of National Honor Society... Excellent Achievement in Social Studies, Outstanding Achievement in Yearbook Editing... August Wilson Monologue Competitor.
Dawkins on Singleton: “Taylor’s a great person, student and player. She brings skill and strength to our front court. She has good size and good footwork. She is a strong rebounder and defender in the post and has a nice touch around the basket. We are very fortunate to have landed a player with so much potential and upside to her game.”
Singleton on SPSU: “SPSU’s academics are excellent, and the basketball program has a great tradition.”
Jr • Forward • 6-0
North Little Rock • North Little Rock, ARK
High School: Four-year letter winner... 7A Central All-Conference... Arkansas State Tournament runner-up in 2009... Arkansas State All-Tournament team as a senior... Arkansas Top 25 camp inductee as a junior... Central Arkansas All-Star MVP, 21 points and 10 rebounds... Averaged 12 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Valdosta State: Averaged 8 points and 4 rebounds.
Dawkins on Smith: “Dominique is very versatile. She cleans up down low with her quickness and defense. She can play the inside and post up, and she can go outside and play facing the basket. She is excited to learn and has a great work ethic. We are very fortunate to have landed a player with so much potential and upside to her game.”
Smith on SPSU: “SPSU is a small yet comfortable university. It’s not too close, but in a great range from the city. The school has a great athletic program with the accolades to match. ”
Fr • Forward • 6-2
Naval Academy • Gainesville, GA
High School: Four-year letter winner... Averaged 12 points and 7 rebounds... Region 7AAA champion at Johnson High School... two time Region 7AAA champion at Gainesville High School... All-Region Honorable Mention as a junior... All-Region Second team as a senior... Gainesville High School Mindy Huey Award... Academic Award.
Dawkins on Strickland: “Madison brings much needed size to our front court. She is athletic and has good footwork. She can play the inside and post up, and she can go outside and play facing the basket. Madison is the type of impact player we need after losing our great senior class in 2011.”
Strickland on SPSU: “I liked the coaching staff and their encouragement, enjoyed the up-tempo environment and everyone was really easy to get along with.”