TUSCALOOSA After adding seven newcomers in her first recruiting class to the University of Alabama women’s basketball program last season, head coach Stephany Smith and her staff announced the signing of four preps to her second class with the Tide. Caitlin Hollifield, Tierney Jenkins, Varisia Raffington and Daleisha Carn will join the team for the 2007-08 season.
“We’ve talked a lot about forward progress with this program,” Smith said. “With this class, we have once again made forward progress. They are as talented, if not more, than the class we just brought in. These players are all very versatile, so we feel that with this group we are covering all of our bases.”
Hollifield, perhaps the most decorated of the group, hails from Powell, Tenn., where she stars for Powell High School and head coach Clay Young. Hollifield, the No. 48 player in the nation according to Scout.com, was a Tennessee Sportswriters Association first team all-state performer last year and is a three-time Street & Smith honorable mention All-American honoree.
A Class AAA All-State honoree a season ago, Hollifield led Powell to the regional finals in Class AAA as a junior after a state semi-final appearance in her sophomore season.
“Caitlin is a fighter and a winner,” Smith said. “She is an old-school kind of kid who will run through a wall for you. She has a tremendous love for the game, a tremendous amount of passion and will be a player our kids will love to play with.”
A native of Tallahassee, Fla., Raffington competes for Florida High and head coach Lisa Kelly. She earned Florida Sportswriters Assocation 3A first team All-State accolades a season ago after leading Florida High to the Florida class 3A state title. She captured the championship game MVP honors after scoring 13 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. Raffington helped her team reach the regional finals as a sophomore.
“Varisia is a player who is just now coming into her own,” Smith said. “She reminds me of a young Patrice Holmes in that she won a state title as a post player, but she could be a point guard if we wanted her to be. She will continue to blossom and get better and better.”
Carn, the second of two signees from the Sunshine state, is in her senior season at Englewood High School in Jacksonville, Fla. Competing for coach George McCloud, Carn is a four-star recruit according to FloridaHoops.com and is listed among the top recruits in the region by HoopGurlz.com.
“She is just an amazing athlete,” Smith said. “Daleisha is a lot of fun to watch. She loves to find teammates in transition. She has a lot of highlight-reel material in her game already and I am looking forward to cultivating that talent.”
The second recruit from Tennessee in the group, Jenkins helped lead her Wilson Central High School team under the tutelage of head coach Bud Brandon. Last season, Jenkins led Wilson Central to the Tennessee Class AAA state title after helping her team to a Sweet 16 appearance as a sophomore.
“Tierney is just a workhorse,” Smith said. “A player with a variety of abilities, she can shoot outside, can score off the dribble and she scores in transition when being fed the basketball. She is the kind of player that opponents have a hard time playing against because of her work ethic and her physicality.”
Alabama opens the 2006-07 season in Coleman Coliseum on Friday when the Tide welcomes instate rival Samford to Tuscaloosa. The Tide and Bulldogs are set to tip-off at 5 p.m.