As much joy as the UTEP Women's basketball team brought to Miner Nation with their magical WNIT run, the sadness crept in once Kayla Thornton played her last game as a Miner, but a ray of hope now emerges with the signing of JUCO standout Lawana Kennedy.
Kennedy averaged a double-double in scoring, and rebounding the past two years at Atlanta Metropolitan College, and hails from Fayetteville, Georgia.
She also was named a Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association First-Team All-Region honoree as both a freshman and a sophomore, contributing 21.6 points per game and 11.2 rebounds per contest in 2013-14, while reaching double figures in scoring in 25 of 26 contests and recorded 19 double-doubles on the season. She was an efficient 46.7 percent from the field, and is considered a three star prospect by ESPN HoopGurlz.
Kennedy will join four prospects who have already signed with UTEP. Daeshianna McCants, Lulu McKinney, Marta Miscenko, and Rudiane Eduardo all signed back in November.
Eduardo is another solid JUCO signee who played at Northwest Florida State College and was being courted by a number of SEC schools. The 6'1 forward will add much needed depth, and athleticism to a front court that is losing two impact starters.
Coach Adams on Eduardo:
"She’s a great athlete and plays an athletic forward. She really can defend, score off the bounce. She comes from a winning program and has a lot of experience. We’re excited about her edition."
Northwest Florida State was ranked 7th in the nation, led by Eduardo who averaged 9.4 points per game, and originally signed with UTEP coming out of high school.
Eduardo is from Lyon, France where she was chosen to the French All-Star High School team, also was selected into the 2013 NJCAA All-Star Game. Both JUCO additions will have two years of service remaining.
Four of the five newcomers are all over six feet tall, with the 6'3 Marta Miscenko rounding things out.
Miscenko hails from the Riga, Lativa, adding more fuel to the Lativa to UTEP pipeline, she represented her country in the 2011 16 and under European Championships.
She earned North Carolina Independent Schools All-State recognition as a junior in 2013 which was her first season playing in the states. She was also selected to the Carolina Christian Conference All-Conference first team and the Carolina Christina Conference All Star Team during her junior year as well.
Coach Adams on Miscenko:
"Marta is a center, who gives us great size in the middle. She gives us good post presence. She can score around the basket and will be a good player in the post for us. We are excited about signing her."
Her senior campaign saw her grow into a can't miss Division One prospect, averaging 16.1 points per game, while hauling in 10.1 rebounds, she also lead Northwood Temple Academy to their first state title in school history thanks to her 22 point, 14 rebound performance in the championship game.
UTEP only had four available scholarships available in 2014, meaning there is a possibility of a defection, or someone could possibly be placed on a academic scholarship due to majority of the Miners' outstanding GPA's in the classroom.
This 2014 class fills immediate and long term needs for an already talented returning roster, making the 2014-15 season even more highly anticipated.