GREENSBORO, May 16, 2011 - In an attempt to add speed and versatility to the 2011-12 North Carolina A&T women's basketball team, head coach Patricia Cage-Bibbs has announced the signing of five new players.
Ariel Bursey, Kelsei Ewings, Chyanna "Chy" Cunningham, Kierra Dunnington, and Adriana Nazario will try to add to what has become a championship program at N.C. A&T. Bursey, Ewings, Dunnington and Nazario are considered three-star recruits (out of five stars) by ESPN HoopGurlz.
Recruiting expert Dan Olson of Collegiate Girls Basketball Report, called the Aggies' class "by far the best amongst all HBCUs."
Earlier this year, the Aggies inked Jaylan Bodiford (6-2, Ballard Louisville, Ky.), Jasmine Parker (6-2, A.L. Brown, Kannapolis, N.C.) and Eboni Ross (6-2, Eau Claire, Columbia, S.C.). Tiffanie Adair, a 2010 signee, will also be added to the Aggies roster this year, bringing the Aggies total number of newcomers to nine. Bodiford, Cunningham, and Ewings were McDonald's All-American nominees.
"There are some outstanding guards in our conference," said Bibbs. "We had to improve our depth and team speed so we can defend those guards. We want to be able to matchup with any lineup our opponents put on the floor."
Bursey (5-10, Western Harnett, Sanford, N.C.) is ranked the 35th best guard in the nation. Bursey enters her collegiate career with the reputation of being a scorer. Over the final two seasons of her high school career, she averaged 25.7 points and 12.2 rebounds per game. In the classroom, she earned a 4.2 grade point average. Her sister Trinity Bursey played at the University of North Carolina.
"She is super athletic and gets to the rim quickly," said Bibbs. "She is one of the highest rated players we have ever signed. She has good size and huge hands. But the thing I like about her most...she will play defense."
Ewings (5-5, West Point, West Point, Miss.) provides the Aggies with another scorer. She averaged 27.0 points and 6.0 assists per game. She is the No. 7 rated player in the state of Mississippi. ESPN HoopGurlz gives her a grade of 83 (out of 100), and ranks her as the 103rd best point guard in the country. In the Mississippi All-Star game, she was awarded Defensive Player of the Game.
"We are excited about finally having a smaller guard who can defend some of the small guards in our conference," said Bibbs. "She is lightning quick and a true menace defensively."
Cunningham (5-10, Tupelo, Tupelo, Miss.) is another Mississippi product headed to N.C. A&T. Ranked No. 17 in the state, Cunningham can play shooting guard, point guard and small forward. She is ranked 86th among guards in the nation. She averaged 13.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game.
"She is going to be able to do so many things for us," said Bibbs. "She is a versatile athlete who can defend several different positions."
Dunnington (5-10, Indian River, Chesapeake, Va.) averaged 17.7 points and 8.1 rebounds as a senior. Maxpreps.com ranked her the 77th best player in the state of Virginia. The Aggies, who shot 27.7 percent from 3-point range during the 2010-11 season, welcome her ability to knock down perimeter jump shots. She is ranked the 121st guard in the country.
"We are so pleased to be able to go into the Tidewater area and get a player of this quality," said Bibbs. "That is a tremendous accomplishment for our program. She is lightning quick on the defensive end, and she is going to hit some big threes for us."
Nazario's father Dre Nazario told ESPN HoopGurlz, "North Carolina A&T offers (Adriana) a family environment with a top notch education along with a competitive team that always has a goal of challenging for a championship." Nazario (5-8, George Washington, Charleston, WVa.) verbally committed to Virginia Tech originally, but later decided to come to Aggieland. She is ranked No. 7 in the state of West Virginia, and Jumpoffplus.com ranks her 140th in the nation.
"We landed a steal here," said Bibbs. "You're talking about a young lady who was an All-State performer and the conference player of the year. She will be a perfect fit here."