Three Rivers women's basketball's freshmen class brings increased size, post presence

Three Rivers women's basketball's freshmen class brings increased size, post presence

Three Rivers women’s basketball recently released its list of new additions to the 2019-20 roster.

It’s safe to say the Lady Raiders will be working with a lot more size than they had last season. In 2018-19, 6-foot, 1-inch Hannah Thurmon was the only player on the roster listed above 6 feet. Now, three incoming freshmen will join her on that list.

Jamiyah Thomas and Kalyssa Hollis both check in at 6-2, while Brogan Jones will be the tallest player on the roster at 6-3.

“We’re definitely going to have some size that’s going to be able to play with their back to the basket, which was our downfall in the national tournament (last season),” Three Rivers coach Jeff Walk said.

With added size down low, Three Rivers is adding to its capabilities for the upcoming season. Last year’s roster held a plus-6.4 rebounding margin over its opponents, pulling down 42.4 boards on average as part of a group effort on the glass. The three players the program graduated from last season — Hailee Erickson, Casey Douglas and Kim Shaw — leave behind a combined 10.2 rebounds per game.

The lack of size never really caught up to the Lady Raiders until the first round of the NJCAA Tournament. Jones County’s 6-3 center, Kyia Weathersby, became the first post player to really impose her will against Three Rivers in an 88-84 late win for the Bobcats. Weathersby went 10 of 13 with 24 points and 10 rebounds in the game.

All of that is to say it looks like help is on the way as some size is getting added to an already athletically gifted team.

“You try to (sign taller players) every year and just hope you luck out and get one,” Walk said. “And we lucked out and got two or three. Post players are hard to find. Everybody at every level is wanting the big kid, and you’ve got to have them. … And I’m glad we were able to get the ones we’re going to get.”

It’s tough to say whether or not the Lady Raiders will have a different style of play this season when the team won’t get together for the first time until September. The certainty is that they’ll utilize their full-court press on defense to generate steals and extra opportunities on the fast break.

“We’re going to see if they can adapt to us first and then we’ll go from there,” Walk said. “We’re still going to press. Now, what that’s going to look like, we’ll just have to wait until the season starts. … You’ve got to be able to play the cards that you’ve dealt yourself.”

Last year’s freshmen helped guide the program to heights it hadn’t reached in 15 years, so Walk and co-head coach Alex Wiggs decided to go back to the well for some of the players they’re bringing in this season.

The Lady Raiders will bring in Grace Jerome from Manatee High School in Bradenton, Florida. Jerome, a 5-10 forward, attended the same school as Deanay Watson, who was an All-American, Region XVI Freshman of the Year, First Team All-Region and the team’s leading rebounder a season ago. Jerome will redshirt the upcoming season and keep her two years of eligibility as she continues to develop her game.

Jones hails from North Little Rock High School, the same school An’Nyah Pettus attended.

Autumn Dodd, a 5-9 guard, was part of Neelyville’s state championship run two years ago alongside J’Kayla Fowler, who was Second Team All-Region last season as a freshman.

Chaylea Mosby, an All-State and All-District guard as a senior, comes from Dexter, which is also Thurmon’s alma mater.

“When you get into good programs, you keep talking to those kids, like, ‘Hey, who down there can play?’ And that just kind of leads into something else,” Walk said.

If all of the talent on the team meshes well, the Lady Raiders could be staring at another national tournament berth on the horizon.

“With the kids we have coming back and the kids we have coming in, I think it’ll be a great mesh. And hopefully, it’ll be almost the same as it was this previous year other than the names have changed,” Walk said. “Everybody’s got to stay out of trouble, stay healthy and pass classes.

“The basketball will be the easiest part.”

Here’s a list of Three Rivers’ incoming freshman class as listed on Twitter:

Myia Yelder G 5-8 Conway, Ark.
Brogan Jones Post 6-3 North Little Rock, Ark.
Chaylea Mosby G 5-9 Dexter, Mo.
Autumn Dodd G 5-9 Neelyville, Mo.
Kalyssa Hollis Post 6-2 Paragould, Ark.
Grace Jerome F 5-10 Bradenton, Fla.
Jamiyah Thomas F 6-2 Glendale Heights, Ill.


Nate Fields - Daily American Republic