KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Five-star point guard Anastasia Hayes was the first player in the 2017 class to commit to Holly Warlick on Sept. 25, and the Murfreesboro Riverdale star made it official on Monday by signing with the Lady Volunteers.
After averaging 20.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.6 assists as a junior, the 5-foot-7 Hayes is ranked as a consensus top-10 player nationally. Prospectsnation.com has her at No. 6 overall and No. 2 among point guards in the class. Meanwhile, espnW HoopGurlz ranks her No. 9 overall and No. 5 among point guards coming out of high school in 2017.
Hayes adds to a sensational Tennessee signing class that Prospectsnation.com ranks No. 1 in the nation and espnW tabs No. 2. behind UConn. She joins 6-0 guard Evina Westbrook of Salem, Ore./South Salem H.S. (No. 1 by All-Star Girls Report/No. 2 by Prospectsnation.com and espnW HoopGurlz) and 6-4 post player Kasi Kushkituah of Austell, Ga./St. Francis H.S. (No. 9 by All-Star Girls Report/No. 11 by Prospectsnation.com/No. 55 by espnW HoopGurlz).
“We are thrilled to sign such a tremendous player from the state of Tennessee,” Warlick said. “She is a great representative of what a Lady Vol is. She works hard, she doesn’t take possessions off. She’s extremely talented but very humble.
“She really focuses on her team, and I believe she is a do-it-all kind of player. If you want something done, she gets it done. She’s going to be a great leader for us, and she is just a winner. She’s won at every level, and I expect that she will continue to win because of her knowledge and how hard she works.”
At Tennessee, Hayes will reconnect with two other standouts from the mid-state, including former Riverdale teammate Alexa Middleton as well as Meme Jackson of Blackman High School in Murfreesboro.
A TSWA Class AAA All-State selection in 2015 and 2016, Hayes led Riverdale to the 2016 state title. She produced 19.4 ppg. and 4.2 apg. as a sophomore at Riverdale and fired in 18.0 ppg. as a freshman at Hendersonville High before making the move to RHS.
On Nov. 10, on the eve of Tennessee’s 2016-17 season-opener, the Lady Vols received some tremendous news on the recruiting front, as Evina Westbrook, ranked as the nation’s No. 1 or 2 high school player, announced that she had signed with the legendary program.
Westbrook, a dynamic 6-foot guard from Salem, Ore., received loud cheers as she revealed her decision Thursday night in front of teammates, coaches, school officials, friends and family at South Salem High School. The 2016 Oregon Gatorade Player of the Year’s paperwork was received and verified by UT compliance officials on Friday, making it official.
Westbrook became the fifth player from the state of Oregon to sign with Tennessee, following in the footsteps of Laurie Milligan (G, Tigard, Ore., 1994-98) and current UT players in senior guard Jordan Reynolds (Portland, Ore.), redshirt junior center Mercedes Russell (Springfield, Ore.) and junior forward Jaime Nared (Portland, Ore.). Some have dubbed Tennessee’s recruiting pipeline from the Pacific Northwest the Oregon Trail.
Ranked No. 1 by All-Star Girls Report and No. 2 by espnW HoopGurlz and Prospectsnation.com, Westbrook becomes the fourth top-three ranked recruit to ink with the Lady Vol program during the Holly Warlick era. She joins Russell (No. 1 in 2013), Diamond DeShields (No. 2 or 3 in 2013/transferred to UT from UNC) and Te’a Cooper (No. 1 in 2015 by DISpects.com and No. 3 by Prospectsnation.com) in that club.
“Outside of Evina being a great basketball player, she’s a great kid and has a great family that is very sport-minded,” Warlick said. “Everyone in our program was invested, all the coaches and players, and we are elated to have her join our family. We all watched together at dinner last night, and we went crazy when she opened her jacket and showed (by revealing that she was wearing a Tennessee T-shirt) where she was signing.
“She’s a game changer and leader with a complete all-around skill set. She has great court awareness and vision and is an incredible passer. Passing is such a lost art, so I really admire that aspect of her game. I also love her will to win and her willingness to spend extra time in the gym constantly working to improve. She will be a tremendous addition to our program.”
Westbrook, who was named to the 2016-17 American Family Insurance All-USA girls basketball preseason team, has started 86 of 87 career games for South Salem. Her career totals include 1,465 points, 452 rebounds, 433 assists, 401 steals and 162 blocked shots.
As a junior, she started 28 of 29 games and helped lead South Salem to a 28-1 record and second consecutive Class 6A state championship. She averaged 22.6 points, 6.2 rebounds 6.7 assists, 5.5 steals and 2.5 blocks per game.
On Nov. 9, the first day of the fall signing period, Kushkituah became the first player in Tennessee’s 2017 class. She hails from Austell, Ga., and has helped St. Francis to back-to-back state titles while earning Class A All-State First Team accolades both seasons. She joins a UT roster that already features four players from the Peach State.
Considered an elite post in the 2017 class, Kushkituah is ranked No. 9 by All-Star Girls Report and No. 11 by Prospectsnation.com. While she is considered the No. 6 post player in the country and a four-star recruit in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100, that organization has her slotted at No. 55 overall.
We had an area on our team we really needed to bolster, and we felt that Kasi was the best post in this class,” Warlick said. “We are absolutely thrilled to have her joining our program. Excited would be an understatement.
“She comes from a great program and has had a fantastic coach. She possesses a tremendous work ethic and is going to provide more stability in the post for us. Kasi’s obviously a terrific player already, but we believe she’s only scratched the surface on how great she can be.”
According to MaxPreps, Kushkituah (pronounced Kush-KITTA-wa), who plays on a team that featured three other teammates signing with Division I teams today, averaged 10.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game as a junior while shooting 53 percent from the field. She averaged 11.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks while shooting 64 percent as a sophomore, and 11.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks as a freshman.
ANASTASIA HAYES // 5-7 // PG // MURFREESBORO, TENN. // RIVERDALE H.S.
• Ranked No. 6 overall by ProspectsNation.com.
• That service has her ranked as the No. 2 point guard in the nation.
• Ranked No. 9 in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100 rankings.
• She is rated the No. 5 point guard and a five-star recruit by the recruiting service.
• Attends Riverdale High School, where she was teammates with current Lady Vol Alexa Middleton.
• Plays for the Tennessee Flight AAU team.
• Led Riverdale to the 2016 Class AAA Tennessee state championship.
• Hayes averaged 20.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.6 assists as a junior.
• Her numbers were 19.4 points and 4.2 assists as a sophomore.
• Played at Hendersonville High School as a freshman, posting 18.0 ppg.
• TSWA Class AAA All-State (2015, 2016).
• As a junior, she also competed for the track team at RHS, finishing third in the state in the 400 meters and fifth in the 200m dash.
EVINA WESTBROOK // 6-0 // G // SALEM, OR // SOUTH SALEM H.S.
• Rated No. 1 in the Class of 2017 by the All-Star Girls Report.
• Ranked No. 2 in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100 rankings.
• No. 1 guard and a five-star prospect, according to espnW.
• Rated No. 2 by Prospectsnation.com.
• Named to the 2016-17 American Family Insurance All-USA girls basketball preseason team.
• Named a 2016 Naismith Trophy All-America Honorable Mention selection.
• Included in the 2016 Naismith Underclassman Watch List in 2016.
• Chosen as 2016 Gatorade Oregon State Player of the Year.
• Westbrook has started 86 of 87 career games for South Salem High with career totals of 1,465 points, 452 rebounds, 433 assists, 401 steals and 162 blocked shots.
• As a junior, she started 28 of 29 games and helped lead South Salem to a 28-1 record and second consecutive Class 6A state championship. She averaged 22.6 points, 6.2 rebounds 6.7 assists, 5.5 steals and 2.5 blocks per game.
• As a sophomore in 2014-15, started in all 29 games and averaged 15.8 ppg., 5.1 rpg., 4.4 apg., 4.2 spg. and 1.6 bpg. to help her team to a 27-2 record and a 6A state title.
• Participated in 2016 USA U18 National Team Trials and 2014 USA U17 World Championship Team Trials.
KASI KUSHKITUAH // 6-4 // P // AUSTELL, GA // ST. FRANCIS H.S. (ALPHARETTA, GA)
• Ranked No. 9 overall by All-Star Girls Report.
• Ranked No. 11 overall by Prospectsnation.com.
• Ranked No. 55 in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100 rankings
• She is the No. 6 post and a four-star prospect, according to espnW.
• Led St. Francis High School to consecutive Class A Georgia state championships the past two seasons.
• Named to Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Class A All-State First Team (2015, 2016).
• Plays for FBC AAU team.
• Averaged 10.6 ppg., 8.2 rpg. and 1.5 bpg. as a junior while shooting 53%.
• Tallied 11.5 ppg., 8.6 rpg. and 2.2 bpg. as a sophomore while shooting 64%.
• Produced 11. 8 ppg., 5.6 rpg. and 2.0 blocks as a freshman