With four graduating, GW addresses next season

The accomplishments of the GW women’s basketball team’s four seniors are well documented. More than 3,400 points, 1,500 rebounds, 1,100 assists and 700 steals. A variety of award nominations, such as academic All-America and the Nancy Lieberman Award, given to the country’s top point guard. Three (likely soon to be four) straight NCAA tournaments, including a Sweet 16 appearance. But the one down side to having such storied seniors is the thought of losing them in May.

“These are four really talented players,” coach Joe McKeown said. “Filling their shoes is a really tough task.”

The Colonials will be adding six freshmen to the roster next year, led by shooting guard Tiana Myers. A native of Ft. Washington, Md., and a student at nearby Bishop McNamara High School, Myers was named one of two Most Valuable Players in the D.C. City Title Game Tuesday evening at Verizon Center. She scored 14 points, had five assists and four blocks in a losing effort.

Myers looked like she is in the mold of GW senior Sarah-Jo Lawrence as a shooting guard who can also drive and hit layups. At 5-foot-8, she is three inches shorter than Lawrence and also much thinner, but Myers’ coach, Robert Surratt, said he believes Myers will fit right in with Colonials basketball.

“She only has room left to grow,” Surratt said after the Championship game. “She’ll get to the weight room and then get a lot stronger. There aren’t any setbacks.”

McKeown said Myers verbally committed to GW as a junior. She had Foggy Bottom in her mind for years and knew she wanted to join McKeown’s program right after her recruiting trip early last semester.

“The way they welcomed me, it was like a giant family,” Myers said. “They can take my game to the next level. If I work hard, I think I can earn a starting spot. But I need to be competitive in practice.”

Myers is one of three guards joining the program next year, along with Kayla Miller, a point guard from Wimington, Del., and Kiara Allums, a Hugo, Minn., native. Also headed to Foggy Bottom are Sara Mostafa, a forward from Galloway, N.J., and her teammate Tara Booker, a guard/forward combo. Rounding out the group is another local, forward Brooke Wilson, who plays at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Md.

The Colonials are losing three key players in guards Lawrence and Kim Beck, who runs the point, and forward Whitney Allen. Lora Mitchell, the fourth senior, does not see much playing time but is an important part of the team’s cohesiveness off the court. Because the squad will be down players at every spot, it was important the program replenish from every direction. McKeown said his recruits are a good combination of size and positions.

For the third consecutive year, McKeown brought in a point guard, this time in Miller. Two years ago, Stefani Munro joined the program and last year Erica Rivera was the only recruit. Beck’s replacement is still to be decided, but Rivera has seen increased playing time over the past few months and looks more comfortable in the role with each passing contest.

What makes this year’s recruiting class unique, other than its size, is from where the players are coming.

“The one thing I really like about this group is that they all come from high-quality programs,” McKeown said.

Miller’s school, Ursuline Academy, is No. 24 in USA Today’s national rankings ,while Wilson’s team is one of the four top seeds in Maryland’s state championship. Though McKeown added that it is hard to say just how well the girls will fit in with his team until they arrive for practice, he added that it is uplifting to know that each girl comes from a school known for its girls’ basketball.

Where each recruit currently plays becomes mostly irrelevant come August, when they arrive at Smith Center to learn a new system with a new set of teammates. What each brings individually has yet to be seen, but McKeown is optimistic.

He said, “I think we really addressed our needs.”

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