Wednesday, November 09, 2005
TUSCALOOSA – First-year Alabama women’s basketball coach Stephany Smith announced the beginning of her first recruiting class at the Capstone, as six players signed letters of intent to join Smith and the Crimson Tide in the fall of 2006. The early signing period for basketball ended today, allowing players to declare their intentions prior to their senior basketball seasons.
Included among Smith’s initial batch of signees are Nikki Davis, Alyson Butler, Tamara Williams, Talisha Chandler and Brittany Logan.
“We are extremely excited for our first class here at Alabama,” Smith said. “We have a class that is extremely gifted and complement each other well. We also emphasized recruiting players with high basketball IQ’s, so we feel we have a very talented, intelligent incoming group of players.”
Williams is the sole recruit from the state of Alabama to sign early with the Tide. Williams, from Thompson High School in Alabaster, Ala., helped her team win an area championship once and the championship of Shelby County twice as a prep. She competed on the North-South All-Star game last summer and played in the AAU state title game last season with her team, the Alabama Warriors.
Williams was an AHSAA All-Star and earned second team All-Metro honors last season. She led her team in rebounding, was the team captain and had the highest free-throw shooting percentage on the squad.
The six-foot guard was also a National Honor Society honoree and played on a club team that won five state titles in her career. She posted a double-double against defending 5A state champion Ramsey High last season. Her father, Gregory, is a former track athlete at the Capstone.
“We are excited to have our first Alabama signee officially on board,” Smith said. “Tamara is a player who will continue to get better throughout her career. Because of her size, she has played in both the post and in the backcourt and has a tremendously high basketball IQ.”
Butler comes to the Capstone after an outstanding career at Walker Valley High School in Cleveland, Tenn. The 5-11 guard has led her team to a 91-16 mark in three seasons as the point guard, including an appearance in the Tennessee Girls Final Four and two Sub-State finishes. Last season, her team captured regional and district championships.
Butler earned All-State and Best of Preps Player of the Year honors as a junior. She is a two-time All-Area and All-Region honoree and has twice been District Tournament MVP. She is a three-time All-District performer and was voted the Most Improved Player on her team as a freshman while leading her team in free throw percentage.
The daughter of Al and Judy Butler has scored over 1,500 points in her illustrious career, including 31 against Westview High in the Tennessee Girls State Tournament. She is a member of the National Honor Society, was on the school’s Homecoming Court and is a member of the FCA Anchor Club.
“Alyson is just a great shooter with great range,” Smith said. “She is a guard with great physicality who knows how to play the game. She is a point guard now but will be most likely be a shooting guard for us at the college level.”
Davis comes to the Tide after an outstanding career in basketball-crazed Kentucky. The 5-7 point guard has been at the head of one of the best prep teams in the country, Lexington Catholic High in Lexington, Ky. The Knights finished last season ranked as high as No. 6 on the USA Today top-50 list.
Davis led the team to a 2005 Kentucky Sweet Sixteen title, the third for the powerhouse program in seven years. She will have an opportunity in her senior season to become just the second player, male or female, in Kentucky high school history to compete in four state championships in her career. She led the Knights in scoring (10.9 points), assists (6.8) and steals (3.9) during her junior campaign.
The point guard is currently ranked as the No. 3 guard in the state of Kentucky and among the nation’s top 25 by bluechipcamp.com.
“Nikki is stepping in to fill a position that is greatly needed for us, and that is a true point guard and floor general,” Smith said. “She can shoot the three, take it off the dribble and direct a team. She has the ability to do those things immediately for us and is the kind of kid with basketball savvy and leadership to be able to step in as a freshman and run a team.”
Chandler is a 6-2 center who comes to the Tide from Greenwood, S.C., where she starred at Clover High School. She led her team to a State runner-up finish last season after winning both Region and Upper State titles. Her Clover team defeated the squad led by fellow Alabama signee Brittany Logan in the South Carolina Class AAA State Tournament. Chandler earned All-Region honors in her junior season and was voted as the team’s best offensive player as a sophomore.
The daughter of Natalie Chappell-Milam, Chandler earned the Gray Eagle Award for her team last season. She also played on the Carolina Cougars AAU team that earned runner-up honors at the AAU state tournament. All four of her teammates are going on to Division I schools next fall.
“She is a tremendously strong player with a great mind for basketball,” Smith said. ”She can shoot the three and has an incredibly quick release for any player, and it is even more exceptional because she is a post player. She is a great passer who can handle the ball and is very unselfish. She seems to get more of a reward from an assist than scoring points herself.”
Logan is a 6-2 center who has the physical strength to compete in the SEC. She prepped at J.L. Mann High School in Greenville, S.C., where she led her team to a Final Four appearance at the South Carolina state tournament. Her team was eventually beaten by Clover High and fellow Tide recruit Talisha Chandler.
“Brittany is such a powerful low post player,” Smith said. “She can do other things, but she is a monster around the basket. She has such great size and strength around the hoop, we look forward to great things from her.”
Strauthers is a 6-4 post player who has a very versatile game. She starred for Shiloh High in Snellville, Ga., leading them to an appearance in the Georgia Girls Class AAAAA State Tournament. She earned a spot on the Peach State Memorial Day Challenge team this past summer.
“She is a big post player who can do a lot of things,” Smith said. “She can shoot outside and can take a player off the dribble.” Courtney has a great basketball IQ, and that is something that we need more of in our offense. She has a very large upside for us.”