Dec. 2, 2009
EDWARDSVILLE, ILL. - Southern Illinois University Edwardsville women's basketball Coach Amanda Levens continues to make the program stronger with the signing of three student-athletes to National Letters of Intent.
The three players who will join SIUE next season are A.J. Ledbetter (Rock Island), Valerie Finnin (Mokena) and Jazmin Hill (O'Fallon).
"I'm very pleased that all three have signed to play college basketball at SIUE. All three play for successful high school programs and will improve our program in the near future," said Levens.
Levens said the Cougars continue to add players who share the team's vision of winning an Ohio Valley Conference Championship and advancing to the NCAA Tournament. The trio comes to SIUE at an exciting time. The Cougars are currently in year two of their reclassification to NCAA Division I status.
Ledbetter was an IHSA 3-Point Shootout Finalist last season at Alleman High School. A Special Mention All-State pick by the Champaign News-Gazette and a third team All-State selection by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association, Ledbetter earned co-Most Valuable Player honors. She also earned third team All-State honors from the Associated Press during the 2007-08 season.
Ledbetter has twice earned All-Conference and All-Metro honors. The 5-foot-7-inch guard has helped Alleman to two Regional titles as well as a 28-5 record during her freshman season.
"A.J. is a feisty competitor who is a complete team player," said Levens. "She will do whatever it takes to help the team be successful. A.J. is also an excellent student and a great person. She is an intricate piece of the program we are building here at SIUE. I can't wait to coach A.J. and see her reach her potential as a Division I player."
Finnin helped Marian Catholic High School to a combined 53-11 record over the last two seasons, including a spot in the Elite Eight at the IHSA Class 4A Championships. The 5-8 guard scored 196 points, grabbed 88 rebounds and dished out 31 assists last season.
"Her expectations are going to be to win," said Levens. "She is a very skilled player and has a very high basketball IQ."
Hill led the St. Louis area last season in three-pointers with 73 for Althoff Catholic High School. The 5-5 point guard averaged 16.1 points per game last season and was honorable mention All-State by the Associated Press for Class 3A.
Hill, a 1,000-point scorer at Althoff midway through her junior season, has been named All-Area twice by the Belleville News-Democrat and has collected All-South Seven Conference first team honors twice as well as second team honors as a freshman.
"Jazmin is exciting for our program to sign because she was the No. 1 point guard prospect for us since I arrived here," said Levens. "It's very gratifying for our coaching staff to keep a tremendous local player in the area at home for her college career. She's a good shooter, a good defender, and she will be able to help us right away.
"Jazmin, Valerie, and A.J. are all intricate pieces of the puzzle that we are putting together at SIUE. I am excited to coach all three of these outstanding players and see them reach their potential as Division I athletes," added Levens.