Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University women's basketball program and head coach Colleen Lamoreaux-Tate have announced the addition of eight student-athletes who will begin their Bulldog careers in the upcoming 2013-14 campaign.
The eight newcomers, all of which are currently enrolled in fall classes at Ferris State, will join eight returnees as the Bulldogs begin preparations for the second season under Lamoreaux-Tate's direction this coming year. FSU was able to haul in recruits from Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan in her first full recruiting cycle.
The list of additions includes a pair of transfers in forward/center April Watson (Detroit/University Prep), who played last season at the NCAA Division I level for Chicago State, along with junior college transfer forward Heidi Highstreet (Algonac) from St. Clair Community College.
Meanwhile, six incoming prep student-athletes have also joined the program in guards Emily Evans (Canton, Ohio/Glen Oak), Ally Christman (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Dwenger), Hannah Wilkerson (Grand Haven), Ashley Villarreal (DeWitt/Williamston) and Alex Shermulis (Orland Park, Ill./Providence Catholic) in addition to forward Kendra Enszer (Big Rapids).
"We placed a focus on adding more depth and having multiple student-athletes at each position and we were able to accomplish that with this outstanding class," said Lamoreaux-Tate. "We found players with many different skills and abilities that will fit well with the great group of returnees we have coming back this season.
"Additionally, one of our main objectives was finding players who work hard and this class fits the bill," she added. "I'm also pleased to see that we were able to attract quality kids from Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois."
The 6-2 Watson played in 17 contests and made five starts for Chicago State in 2012-13 while totaling 55 rebounds, 51 points and 17 blocked shots in nearly 15 minutes per contest. She previously averaged 16 points, 10 boards and four blocks per game as a senior at Detroit's University Prep in 2011-12 after helping the team to a district title in 2010. She was an all-conference honoree at the prep level.
"April runs the floor well and has a quick move to the basket," said Lamoreaux-Tate. "We're excited about her athleticism and the potential she brings to our program."
A 5-11 forward, Highstreet prepped at Algonac High School before spending two seasons at St. Clair Community College. She helped the Skippers finish 32-3 and fourth in the nation at the National Junior College Athletic Association National Championships this past season while averaging 12.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per contest in a team captain role. She was a first-team all-conference selection and MVP of the district tournament as a collegiate sophomore last year.
"Heidi's a strong defensive player who also has an offensive mind and has been coached well," Lamoreaux-Tate said. "In addition, she has experience in big games from playing at the national tournament and that type of experience is something you can't coach. We're lucky to have her as a Bulldog."
An Ohio native, Evans was a three-year varsity player at GlenOak High School in Canton and helped the Golden Eagles to the second round of the Ohio Division I State Playoffs in 2012-13. A National Honor Society member, she was tabbed as an all-district honoree and claimed area Student-Athlete of the Week recognition at the end of her final campaign.
"Emily was a late addition to our class and the thing we really like about her is that she's an extremely hard worker," said Lamoreaux-Tate. "She works hard not only during the season, but also in the off-season, which is something that you love to see."
The 5-10 Christman was a first-team all-conference selection for Bishop Dwenger in Fort Wayne, Ind. The standout guard averaged nearly 18 points per game as a senior for head coach Dave Scudder at the Class 3A level in Indiana and chosen as one of the region's top prospects. She was also tabbed as a first-team Academic All-State selection.
"Ally's a lefty and brings a nice pure shooter to our squad," Lamoreaux-Tate said. "She has the ability to drive and shoot from the perimeter while also providing good size so she's a welcome addition."
A West Michigan product, Wilkerson ranked as one of Grand Haven's top defenders and the team's second-leading scorer at more than 10 points per game in her final campaign. She helped the Bucs to a perfect 28-0 record and a second consecutive Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) Class A State Championship at the Breslin Center in March. This summer, she was selected as the MVP at the Champions of Character All-Star Game in Grand Rapids and an all-state recipient.
"We're thrilled to have Hannah, who's a West Michigan native with tremendous state championship level experience," said Lamoreaux-Tate. "She was instruemental at the high school level in the state tournament and is a great defensive player who's also a very capable scorer with the ability to run the floor."
A 2012 graduate of Williamston High School, Villarreal did not play collegiate basketball this past season following a successful prep playing career. She helped lead Williamston to a district championship in 2011 and earned honorable mention all-conference accolades while shooting nearly 40% from three-point range for head coach Pete Cool.
"Ashley's coming off an injury that forced her to miss last season, but comes in as a highly-regarded shooter," Lamoreaux-Tate said. "We're happy she's joined the Bulldog family and looking forward to having her in our program."
The 5-9 Shermulis played on the prep level for Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox, Ill. She attained four varsity letters and was a three-year starter while serving as co-captain as a senior in 2012-13. The All-East Suburban Catholic Conference First Team pick ranked among the league's top 20 scoring leaders.
"Alex sees the floor well and will be a nice addition at the point guard spot," said Lamoreaux-Tate. "Not only does she pass the ball well, but she can also shoot the three and drive to the basket so we're excited to have her."
Finally, Enszer is a local product coming off a standout career at Big Rapids High School under prep head coach Jessica Haist. The 6-0 forward scored her 1,000th career point as a senior while helping the Cardinals clinch the Central State Activities Association title. As a junior, Enszer led Big Rapids to the regional finals. She was the Big Rapids Pioneer Dream Team Player of the Year and chosen as an all-state honoree.
"Coach Haist did us a big favor by allowing Kendra to handle the ball some last season and play at times on the perimeter, which has made her a versatile player," Lamoreaux-Tate said. "Her size and perimeter skills will give her an advantage and she's coming off an outstanding high school career."
This past season, the Bulldogs posted a 13-13 overall mark during Lamoreaux-Tate's first season at the helm in 2012-13 despite battling injuries most of the year. FSU finished with a 12-10 mark in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) play while reaching the conference tournament for the 14th time in program history.
Expectations are high heading into the 2013-14 campaign as the Bulldogs' returnees this season will include senior guard Sarah DeShone (Elkhart, Ind./Jimtown), who earned All-America honors for the second-straight year last season. FSU also returns four other players with starting experience from a year ago in guard Katie Mavis (St. Joseph), forwards Ashley Rando (Jackson/Northwest) and Kara Hess (Grand Rapids/Grandville) along with center Hannah Hoffman (Okemos).
Additionally, the returnees include three student-athletes who redshirted in 2012-13 - sophomores Destiney Robinson (Grand Rapids/Christian), Dena Droste (DeWitt) and Christina Branch (Grand Rapids/West Michigan Lutheran). Robinson played her initial collegiate campaign at Grand Rapids Community College while Droste transferred prior to last seasaon from NCAA Division I Kent State. Branch claimed GLIAC Freshman of the Year recognition for the Bulldogs in 2011-12 as FSU reached the NCAA Midwest Regional Semifinals and won the GLIAC North Division Championship.
The Bulldogs are slated to open the 2013-14 season by squaring off against the Michigan State Spartans in exhibition action at the Breslin Center in East Lansing on Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. (ET).