Wichita State women’s basketball coach Keitha Adams knew the selling points that could help her in the frantic recruiting days of the spring.
She told recruits that Wichita loves basketball, as evidenced by its rabid support of the men’s team. She sold the chance to play in the American Athletic Conference against Connecticut, the nation’s dominant women’s program. Play in the AAC, she pointed out, and postseason play is a good bet — three of the 11 schools went to the 2017 NCAA Tournament and the WNIT selected three more.
“It’s not a conference that’s a one-bid league,” she said. “You play at a basketball school in a basketball city and you play in a conference that is at a high level.”
Adams, hired March 29, added five athletes to her first roster, recruiting a mix of experience and size.
Adams will lose eight seniors after the season, so she needed to balance depth concerns with preparing for the future. Adams, who coached the previous 16 seasons at UTEP, inherited nine players from last season. That list includes All-Missouri Valley Conference forward Rangie Bessard, a senior, and seven of the team’s top eight scorers. Forward Kayla Williams transferred to Arkansas State after starting 15 games as a freshman.
“We had to hit the ground running pretty fast,” she said. “With eight seniors, you’ve got a lot of experience coming back. These incoming players — they’re the foundation of the future.”
As expected, Adams used her staff’s history recruiting internationally and from junior colleges to rebuild the roster.
▪ Cesaria Ambrosio, a 6-foot junior guard from Switzerland, averaged 9.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists at Redlands (Okla.) Community College.
Ambrosio was a top priority for Adams after taking the job and she visited her immediately at Redlands.
“Great passer,” Adams said. “I really like her basketball IQ. She can play the point for you. She can play the wings.”
▪ Fanny Hakanson, a 5-9 freshman guard from Stockholm, Sweden, played for Alvik Basket.
“She’s a combo guard,” Adams said. “I like both those guards because they have good basketball IQ and we’re going to have such a quick turnover and your team, it starts with guard play.”
▪ Asia Henderson, a 6-3 freshman center, averaged 16 points, 14 rebounds and 5.7 blocks for South View (N.C.), according to the Raleigh News & Observer. She signed with UTEP in November and was released from her scholarship.
Henderson was named Mid-South 4-A Conference Player of the Year and All Cape Fear Region by the Fayetteville Observer.
“The players that were at UTEP, out of respect for UTEP, I wanted those kids to stay there,” Adams said. “It’s important how you handle things. But Asia had never played there and when we made the change, she wanted to come (to WSU). She’s got good hands. Just has to work on getting stronger and the speed of the game, the typical adjustment that freshmen have to make.”
▪ Raven Prince, a 6-foot-1 forward from Butler Community College, averaged 10 points and seven rebounds. She earned second-team All-Jayhawk Conference honors.
“She plays really hard and she can rebound,” Adams said. “Very, very athletic, brings a lot of energy.”
▪ Alyssia Faye, a 6-2 freshman forward, played for Basket Lattes Montpellier in France.
“She’s an athletic forward,” Adams said. “She can take it to the basket. She can hit the high post shot. She adds some physical presence.”
The Shockers spent much of the summer working in small groups with coaches.
“We worked on some game situations, skill work, and some strategy stuff,” she said. “I felt a lot more comfortable in June than I did in the spring. In the spring, I was just trying to get to know them. In June, it wasn’t new. It felt real good to be on the floor with them.”