PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Brown University women's basketball will welcome five incoming freshmen to the program for the 2016-17 season as part of the Bears' Class of 2021, Brown head coach Sarah Behn announced on Tuesday.
"The class of 2021 will give us size and depth at each position and on the defensive side of the ball," Behn said. "All five women are extremely talented and dedicated to the game. I'm excited for them to get here and jump in!"
The quintet gives the Bears options across the court and spans the country from the East Coast to the Midwest to the West Coast. The class comprises two guards, two forwards, and a center with four of the five student-athletes standing at 6-foot-0 or taller. The group represents five different states – Massachusetts, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, and California – and five different AAU programs.
The class includes center Jenna Benzinger (Williamstown, Mass.), forward Morgan Clausen (Algonquin, Ill.), guard McKenna Dale (Storrs, Conn.), guard Dominique Leonidas (Stone Mountain, Ga.), and guard/forward Savannah Lewis (Westlake Village, Calif.).
The group will join a team that qualified for the inaugural Ivy League Tournament and secured a spot in the Women's Basketball Invitational – gaining the program's first-ever win in a national postseason tournament – this past winter.
Hometown: Williamstown, Mass.
High School: Mt. Greylock Regional
AAU Team: Albany Lady Stars
Prep Accolades: Earned All-Western Mass. honors as a junior and senior … Gained All-Conference honors all four years … Registered over 1,000 career points and over 900 career rebounds … Averaged a double-double as a junior and senior … Won Mt. Greylock's Most Athletic Female award in 2016 … Played for head coach John Jacobee … Competed on the AAU level for the Albany Lady Stars … Also competed in volleyball; garnered All-Western Mass. honors twice and recorded over 500 career kills … Gained a Berkshire County Sportsmanship Award.
Why Brown? "I chose Brown because of the opportunity to play high-level, Division I basketball while receiving an elite education."
Hometown: Algonquin, Ill.
High School: Huntley
AAU Team: Illinois Hoop Dreams
Prep Accolades: Earned Northwest Herald and Daily Herald First Team All-Area honors as a junior and senior … Gained Chicago Tribune Second Team All-Area accolades … Selected as a Northwest Herald All-Star … Garnered IBCA 3A/4A All-State Honorable Mention laurels … Scored over 1,000 career points … Averaged 15.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.6 steals, and 1.7 blocks per game … Played for coaches Steve Raethz or Phil Lieterman … Competed on the AAU level for Illinois Hoop Dreams … An Illinois State Scholar.
Why Brown? "I chose Brown for its elite academics, for its location on the East Coast, and for the basketball team's family atmosphere. It is a great opportunity!"
Hometown: Storrs, Conn.
High School: Edwin O. Smith
AAU Team: Connecticut Cobras
Prep Accolades: Garnered Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year, Hartford Courant Player of the Year, and New Haven Register Player of the Year honors as a senior … Earned All-State honors in 2016 and 2017 … Gained All-Conference honors four times … Finished her career as E.O. Smith's all-time leading scorer – male or female – with 1,792 career points … Netted 560 points (20.0 per game) as a junior and 506 points (23.1 per game) as a senior … Totaled 747 rebounds, 264 steals, and 162 blocks over career … Gained Team MVP honors three times … Played for head coach Mary Roickle … Competed on the AAU level for Connecticut Cobras … Played for the New Zealand U18 National Team … Also competed in swimming for head coach Scott James … Earned All-America honors in the 50 freestyle as a junior and senior … Won state titles in the 50 free and 100 free in 2016 and 2017, setting a state record in the 50 free … National Honor Society member.
Why Brown? "I chose Brown because it will be an amazing academic and athletic experience. Along with this, I fell in love with the town and campus when I first visited. I also really liked the coaches and the players that I met, and the welcoming environment that they created."
Hometown: Stone Mountain, Ga.
High School/Prep School: Parkview/Loomis Chaffee (Conn.)
AAU Team: Douglasville Lady Tigers
Prep Accolades: Earned First Team All-State, First Team All-County, and First Team All-Region accolades … Scored over 1,000 career points … Finished second all-time in career assists at Parkview … Set Parkview's single-game assist record with 16 helpers … Gained NEPSAC All-Star honors in 2017 … Spent a year in prep school at the Loomis Chaffee School after attending Parkview High School … Played for head coach Kirk Call at Parkview and Adrian Steward at Loomis Chaffee School … Competed on the AAU level for the Douglasville Lady Tigers … Garnered Scholar-Athlete laurels.
Why Brown? "I chose Brown because I knew that it would be a great fit for me. I admire the diversity and being in a small city. The players and coaches are all great people, and I know that I will fit right in."
Hometown: Westlake Village, Calif.
High Schools: Sierra Canyon School, Oaks Christian School
AAU Team: Cal Sparks Gold EYBL
Prep Accolades: Played in the Battle of the Valley Senior All-Star Game … Earned All-League honors as a sophomore and junior … Won team's Coach's Award, Most Improved award, and Hustle Award over career … Played for head coach Alicia Komaki at Sierra Canyon from 2015-17 and for head coach Ken Plummer at Oaks Christian School from 2013-15 … Played on a Sierra Canyon team that won three straight state titles from 2013-15 … Competed on the AAU level for Cal Sparks Gold EYBL for head coach Elbert Kinnebrew … Captain of National Honor Society.
Why Brown? "I chose Brown because it was the perfect blend of everything that I wanted in a college – unparalleled academic opportunities, incredible faculty, and an excellent basketball program all on a historic and beautiful campus. It may sound cliché, but I felt at home as soon as I stepped on campus."