Recruiting heating up for Barnes Arico, Wolverines

Wednesday, November 16, 2016 - 8:32pm

The Michigan women’s basketball team came into the 2016-17 season expecting big things from freshman guard Kysre Gondrezick, who scored 72 points in a playoff game for Benton Harbor High School and was named Miss Basketball in the State of Michigan.

While the Wolverines have played just two games so far, Gondrezick has showcased her basketball prowess in both contests. In Michigan’s victories over Oakland and Niagara, she scored a total of 31 points, totaling nine assists and three steals in a combined 35 minutes of play.

Gondrezick’s performances were enough to win her the honor of Big Ten Freshman of the Week, an award now-sophomore center Hallie Thome won last year.

“(Gondrezick) does have the chance to be a really special player,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “She comes from two parents who played basketball at the highest level. She has grown up in the gym. She has a great feel for the game.”

This week, the Wolverines signed two new recruits that will likely have similarly lofty expectations next season.

One of them is guard Deja Church of Southfield, Mich. She is the No. 67 prospect in the nation according to Prospects Nation and was named Michigan Class A Player of the Year in 2015-16 while leading Southfield Lathrup to a 21-5 season. Like Gondrezick last year, Church is a candidate for Miss Basketball this year.

Church’s transition to Michigan next season will be easier than it is for most, as she played AAU Basketball with Gondrezick and freshman forward KeAsja Peace on the Michigan Crossover.

“(Church) is a tough-nosed guard,” Barnes Arico said. “An important thing for us, really what we’ve tried to do the last few years is to try to get the best player in the state to stay at home. She had initially decided to go elsewhere and before signing day, she changed her mind and said, ‘I can’t let this opportunity at the University of Michigan pass me by.’ ”

Barnes Arico traveled a little further to find her other big-name recruit.

Forward Hailey Brown, the No. 38 prospect according to HoopGurlz, will move from Hamilton, Ontario, to play for the Wolverines. Brown has played for the Canadian National Team since 2013 and averaged 10.0 points and 8.8 rebounds in five games at  the 2016 U18 FIBA Americas competition.

“Brown is an outstanding ‘4’ player,” Barnes Arico said. “With Jillian Dunston being a senior next year, that’s an area where we wanted to add a player for sure. She is a 6-foot-2 kid who can play with her back to the basket. She has international experience and has traveled the world playing basketball since the age of 14.”

Church and Brown will be essential additions to Michigan in 2017-18, as the Wolverines will lose senior guards Siera Thompson and Danielle Williams to graduation after this year.

While next season is still a long way away, Church and Brown should give Michigan two new faces to get excited about, just like Gondrezick and Thome did the last two years.