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Rutgers builds for future in recruit of 4 players

 – Photo by Jeffrey Gomez

The Rutgers women’s basketball team has featured a talented and diverse group of players to start the 2019-20 season. 

From true freshman center Maori Davenport to graduate student guard Khadaizha Sanders, players from all different stages in their careers have shown their ability to contribute for a Scarlet Knights (4-0) program that has gotten off to a successful start to the year.

This past week, head coach C. Vivian Stringer was able to attract even more promising prospects for the future as four different players were recruited for Rutgers to open up the National Signing Week for the team.

Among the incoming freshmen that were included in the signing were post Sakima Walker, forward Chyna Cornwell, guard Elizabeth Martino and winger Erica Lafayette. 

Walker, who is labeled as the No. 21 ranked prospect in the nation by the All-Star Girls Report, is entering her senior year of high school after a 2018-19 campaign that saw the post’s Africentric Early College team go an undefeated 28-0 on the season. 

With Davenport likely still in the early stages of her development as a cemented member of the Knights’ frontcourt for next season, Walker has the ability to tally some minutes while also gaining some valuable experience in playing under Stringer for the upcoming years that she will be a part of her new team.

Accompanying the post for next season on the other side of the court will be Cornwell. Reigning from Newton-Conover High School, the forward will be embarking on the final stage of a high school career that has seen the North Carolina All-State performer score a total of 1,848 points in the three years that she has been with the team.

Though Rutgers already has a number of forwards on the team, including juniors Mael Gilles, Tekia Mack and redshirt freshman Tyia Singleton, there is no reason to believe that, come later in her career with the Knights, Cornwell will have any problem adjusting to an increased number of minutes with her new team.

Sharing the time on the court for the next immediate season, though, will be three-star recruit Martino. The guard, who was given the opportunity to try out for Team USA in the 2017 FIBA U16 Women’s Americas Championship, along with a spot on the SW Stealers in the USA Basketball 2019 3x3 U18 National Championships, was described by Stringer as “a great shooter who believes every single shot is going down as she shoots it.”

Given the fact that some of Rutgers’ current veteran guards in Sanders and graduate student Danielle Migliore are reaching their final years of eligibility for the Knights, it will be interesting to see exactly what kind of impact the two vets will have on Martino before the incoming freshman steps onto the court in 2020.

Another recruit that will certainly look to open some eyes is No. 40 ranked winger — according to espnW Hoopgurlz — Lafayette. The “combo guard,” as Stringer described her, averaged approximately 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists per game in her junior year of high school.

Lafayette will certainly seek to carry some of that offensive success into a Rutgers program that has thrived off the high-level production from its other contributors in the first four games of the Knights’ season thus far. 

While the four aforementioned recruits will certainly have a long way to go in becoming solidified members of the team, there is no doubt that each will be bringing a story of success from their earlier high-school career in the hopes of translating it to a bigger stage on the Banks.

The ability to do so would be vital in not only producing the development of the next core of the Rutgers program, but also in the establishment of one that could bring home the championship-caliber season that is entirely possible for the Knights, given the diverse group of talent that has already showed its potential in fielding a developing yet successful team.

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