Washburn women’s basketball coach Ron McHenry is a man who plans for the future.
How else to explain the lauded group of recruits he signed — including a trio from the Wichita area — as the No. 6-ranked Lady Blues get ready to move into the new year?
“We’re going to lose six seniors, so we needed to bring in some high-caliber high school players,” said McHenry, who is in his 13th season. “I think we did that.”
McHenry brings in two players off defending Class 6A champion Heights — 5-foot-11 guard/forward Jharian Bowen and 5-9 guard Jayda Lynch — along with Derby’s Alyxis Bowens, a 6-2 forward.
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Garden City’s Johna McClelland, a 6-3 center, rounds out the class from the early-signing period.
McHenry saw Bowen, Lynch and Bowens play together on the AAU circuit.
“We started recruiting them pretty early, getting to know them and seeing them play quite a bit,” McHenry said. “Sometimes you bring in players that aren’t really ready for the college game and need some work before they can get on the court. I think (Bowen, Lynch and Bowens) can compete for minutes from the start.”
McHenry led the Lady Blues to the NCAA Division II title in 2004-2005.
“I think (Bowen) probably has the most college-ready game right now,” McHenry said. “She can shoot from a lot of different spots and can put the ball on the floor well.”
Lynch seems to fit in line with the lockdown defenders McHenry has recruited in the past.
“Jayda can really defend, and she comes from such a great high-school program,” McHenry said. “The way she guards is just what we’re looking for.”
Bowens might need the most work of the three to get ready for college basketball, but also might have the biggest upside.
“She can really run the floor and already has such a knack for blocking shots,” McHenry said. “She’s a great athlete.”
Northwest, Butler trio headed to Division I — Three players from Northwest who helped lead Butler Community College to the NJCAA World Series last season as freshman are headed to play for Division I schools after the early-signing period.
Butler pitcher/outfielder Kelsey Berlin signed with Arkansas, where she’s slated to be a pitcher.
Creighton signed twin sisters Alex and Mac Millspaugh. Alex, a catcher, started 52 games last season and hit .289 with four home runs, nine doubles and 24 runs.
Mac went 19-10 and led the Grizzlies with a 1.91 ERA and 172 strikeouts. Mac was also named the Jayhawk West Most Valuable Player and Freshman of the Year.