Eagles ink four Washington natives in early signing period, including sister of current Eagle, Brianne Ryan
Four high school seniors from the state of Washington have signed national letters of intent to play basketball at Eastern Washington University, head coach Wendy Schuller announced Thursday.
The members of the 2011 recruiting class include 5-foot-1 point guard Kylie Huerta from Kentwood High School, 5-11 guard Kayleigh Ryan from Lynden Christian High School, 6-0 forward Melissa Williams from Camas High School in Vancouver and 5-10 shooting guard Hayley Hodgins from Chiawana High School in Pasco.
Kylie Huerta, a three-year letterwinner at Kentwood, was ranked among the top 110 point guards in the nation according to ESPN Hoopgurlz.com.
“We are extremely excited about Kylie joining our program,” said Schuller. “She is kid that really knows how to play. She comes from an outstanding high school program that has produced some of the best point guards in the nation, as evidenced in Courtney Vandersloot (starting point guard at Gonzaga) and Lindsey Moore (starting point guard at Nebraska). Kylie has had the opportunity to learn from the best, and her numbers and production in high school prove it.”
Although standing at just over five feet, Huerta has a major impact on the court, as she averaged 18.9 points, four assists, and 3.4 steals per game as a junior in 2009-10.
“I think the knock on her from a lot of other schools was her size, but in our program, we tend to have success with small point guards,” said Schuller, with a wink. The Eagles current starting point guard is 5-0 Chene Cooper, who averaged 8.7 points, 2.9 assists and tallied a team-leading 57 steals last season.
“I wouldn’t trade Coop for anyone in the world,” added Schuller. “And I think Kylie is going to be that same type of special player for us.”
Huerta earned South Puget Sound League North Division Co-MVP honors in 2010 after leading the league in points per game (18.9) and steals (57), and ranking second in assists (65) and third in three-point field goal percentage (.403).
In addition to her MVP honors in 2010, Huerta was an All-SPSL first-team selection in 2009 and earned honorable mention accolades as a freshman in 2008. She was also selected to the 2010 Seattle Times All-Area Girls Basketball team. Huerta helped Kentwood capture the school’s first-ever Class 4A State Championship in 2009, and led the team to the quarterfinals in 2010.
A native of Covington, Wash., Huerta spent last summer on the East side of the state playing for the Spokane Stars AAU team.
Starting in 2011, Schuller will coach her first set of siblings at Eastern, as she welcomes Kayleigh Ryan to the squad. Her older sister, Brianne Ryan, is currently a junior with the Eagles, and was named the Big Sky Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2010. Their mother, Neil Ryan (formerly Neil Ann Massie), also played basketball for Eastern from 1979-82, and is the third-leading rebounder in school history with 1,008 career rebounds. Her career rebounding average of 8.47 ranks fourth in the EWU record book, while her 346 rebounds in the 1979 season is the fourth-best single season performance in program history.
Kayleigh is a dual-sport athlete, earning letters in basketball and volleyball at Lynden Christian. As a junior on the basketball team, she averaged nine points, eight rebounds and 4.7 assists per game for the Lyncs.
“Kayleigh certainly has some of the same family traits in terms of athleticism,” said Schuller. “She has great size for a guard, and is really explosive, but she does play a little differently than her sister. She is a bit more of a distributor. Kayleigh played point guard for her AAU team this summer, and although that is not the position we recruited her for, it shows her ability to handle the basketball.”
“We are also very excited to continue our relationship with the Ryan family,” added Schuller. “Their mother, Neil, played for Eastern and is one of the all-time greats in terms of rebounding. Their father is also an alumnus, and they have just been incredible parents to have in this program.”
Also joining the Eagle family from the West side is Melissa Williams, a powerful post player out of Camas High School. Williams was selected as the 2010 Greater St. Helen’s League Player of the Year and the Columbian’s All-Region Player of the Year. She led her team to the Class 3A District Championship in 2010, averaging 16 points per game throughout the year. The Papermakers earned the title after defeating Prairie 59-46. Williams had six assists and five steals in that game.
Prior to being named GSHL Player of the Year, Williams earned all-league first-team honors as a sophomore and second-team accolades as a freshman. She was also a three-year academic all-conference selection.
“We really like her overall package,” said Schuller. “Melissa is an awesome kid, an unbelievable student, and really fits the mold of the type of student-athletes we try to recruit. Basketball-wise, she is just as impressive. In a lot of ways, she is the heir apparent to Julie Piper (2009-10 Big Sky MVP for Eastern). When recruiting this year, we had to keep in mind who we were losing. Who knows if you can ever truly replace a Julie Piper, but Melissa is someone we are extremely excited about because of her determination and work ethic. We feel she is going to be a really solid player for us.”
Just as Williams will look to fill the shoes of Julie Piper, 2011 signee Hayley Hodgins will have a similar task at hand in replacing EWU standout Kyla Evans. Evans currently owns the best career three-point field goal percentage in EWU history at .390 (170-436) and the ninth-best in the Big Sky. She is fourth at Eastern in career three pointers (170) and is the only active player in the Big Sky to have made 150+ three pointers in her career.
“Next season, we are losing probably the best three-point shooter in school history,” expressed Schuller. “Hayley is going to be extremely important in filling that void.”
Hodgins was a member of the Columbia Basin Big Nine Cascaded Division first-team in 2010 and was twice named the Tri-City Herald Athlete of the Week. She was named to the all-regional tournament first-team, and helped her squad to a fifth-place finish at the state championships in 2010. Hodgins was the league’s leading scorer during her junior year, averaging 18.4 points per game. She shot 46 percent from three-point range, which was also the best in the league.
“Hayley is a great all-around player, but one of the things we loved most about her was her ability to shoot the three. She can really launch it. We also love that she is a coach’s daughter. Her father has helped coach her for years, which means she has a really high basketball IQ.”