DURHAM, N.C. – Duke Blue Devils women’s basketball head coach Joanne P. McCallie announced the program’s next recruiting class on Tuesday.
Along with recruiting coordinators Candice M. Jackson and Hernando Planells, McCallie released details of the team’s recent signings of Lyneé Belton of Clinton, Md., Sierra Calhoun of Brooklyn, N.Y., Erin Mathias of Pittsburgh, Pa., and Azurá Stevens of Raleigh, N.C., to National Letters of Intent (NLI’s) to attend Duke beginning in Fall 2014.
“This group of four chose Duke to make an immediate impact, to come in right away and build on everything that’s been done prior, and to have a chance to make history,” McCallie said.
“There’s no question that all four have the ability to do that – to blend with the current team – and to be immediate in their impact. For us that’s very exciting because we just want to continue to grow and continue to get better.”
The group is ranked No. 2 nationally by the Girls Basketball Report, and overall as a class, the Blue Devils brought in three top-23 players in various rankings.
“We’re very excited about the signing of these young ladies,” McCallie continued.
“They’re a fantastic group of four. We have shored up our post position and provided more versatility to our current post with the addition of Erin Mathias and Lyneé Belton. Our post is strong, deep and features a lot of different skill sets by different players. We will have a lot of different combinations that we can put on the floor together next season. Our three-point shot is continuing to grow in the post position as well, and that’s something we appreciate in stretching the defense.”
At the end of the current season, Duke will graduate one of the most successful senior classes in school history that features Chelsea Gray, Richa Jackson, Tricia Liston, Haley Peters and Chloe Wells.
To bring along the new recruits next season, the Blue Devils are expected to return two-time All-America Elizabeth Williams and Freshman All-America Alexis Jones, along with Kianna Holland, Katie Heckman, Ka’lia Johnson, Kendall McCravey-Cooper, Oderah Chidom, Rebecca Greenwell, Amber Henson and Jenna Frush.
Lyneé Belton – 6-3 – Forward/Center
As a junior, Belton averaged 14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks and guided her squad at the Bullis School to a 21-5 overall record and to the Independent School League (ISL) AA Championship.
“Lyneé is more of a physical player,” McCallie said.
“She’ll play the five and four. She’s very, very strong physically. Can set screens, can score on the block and can score on high post. Lyneé is a gritty competitor; she’s not afraid of physical contact and physical play.”
Sierra Calhoun – 6-0 – Guard/Forward
Calhoun is a two-time First Team All-State, First Team All-City and First Team All-Tri-State as a sophomore and junior while helping to guide Christ the King H.S. to the state semifinals as a sophomore and junior.
As a junior, Calhoun averaged 22 points, eight rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks and surpassed the 1,000-point plateau during the season.
“Sierra is one of the best guards in the country,” McCallie said.
“She has great versatility to her game. She can play the one, two and three positions. Sierra can play off the bounce, create in transition and has a beautiful three-point shot. She is not afraid to rebound and mix it up. She’ll go hard to the glass and has beautiful takes. She’s just somebody who’s going to thrive at this level without question and will have an immediate impact with us.”
Erin Mathias – 6-4 – Forward/Center
Mathias was voted Pittsburgh Post-Gazette WPIAL Class AAAA Player of the Year in 2012-13 during her junior year, and guided Fox Chapel Area H.S. to an 18-6 overall record and advanced to the WPIAL AAAA quarterfinals.
“Erin’s worked extremely hard and is a very competitive player,” McCallie said.
“She can play four and five and has worked on her range, including her three-point shot. Erin can run the floor well, has beautiful power moves to the basket and plays with a great deal of confidence. She has even enjoyed dunking the basketball on occasion, which has been exciting to see.”
Azurá Stevens – 6-5 – Forward/Center
Azura was ranked the No. 2 recruit in the state of North Carolina heading into her senior year as a captain of her Cary H.S. squad.
During her high school career to date, she has tallied career highs of 38 points, 25 rebounds, 15 blocks and 12 assists, and returned to action after playing in only seven games as a junior after suffering a broken fibula.
Playing her AAU ball for the Garner Flames, she guided the team to a championship win in 2012.
“Azurá is the most versatile player I’ve seen in a long time,” McCallie said.
“She can actually play the two, three, four, and five positions for us. With her size and length, she’s incredible defensively. She’s a defensive stopper, as well as a great rebounder, but at the same time she has a terrific three-point shot. We look at her to play three for us, maybe some four, but mostly in the guard position. To have a 6’5’’ guard who can play off the bounce, can shoot the three and can offensive rebound from the perimeter is very, very exciting. Azurá might be the tallest wing player to ever to play at Duke.”