UNLV WOMEN’S BASKETBALL NEWS: Lady Rebels Sign Five For 2014-15 Season




All five players hail from California

UNLV head coach Kathy Olivier went back to her old stomping grounds when looking for the newest set of Lady Rebels, as five California players have signed national letters of intent to play for the UNLV women’s basketball team starting in the fall of 2014-15, Olivier announced on Friday. Nikki Wheatley, Brooke Johnson, Kandyce Smith, Simone Sheppard and Alyssa Anderson will all put on the Rebel Red next season.

“This is a great class for us, we have signed five quality players who excel on the court, in the classroom, and in the community,” said Olivier. “They also all come from good high school programs and prestigious club teams. That includes three of our signees coming from Cal Swish and coached by Russ Davis, one of the top club coaches in the nation. We have Alyssa who has played under her father, an outstanding high school coach, while Simone comes from another strong club background with Cal Sparks, coached by Michelle Massari.

“We’re also happy that all five members of this year’s class exemplify our team’s core values – passion, professionalism, competitive toughness, work ethic and engaging the community. This is an outstanding group of players, and I’m very happy that they represent the future of Lady Rebel basketball.”

The first recruit, Nikki Wheatley, is a 5-5 point guard from La Verne, Calif., and is a two-time San Gabriel Valley Player of the Year. She led Bonita HS to the CIF-Southern Section semifinals for the third straight season in her junior year, while averaging 13.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.9 steals per contest. Ranked as the No. 24 point guard in this year’s class by ESPN HoopGurlz, she is a three-time all-area selection and she was named to the Los Angeles All-City team in 2012-13 as well. She also runs for the Bonita HS track team, having won section titles in both the long and triple jumps. Wheatley is one of the three players in this year’s class that was a member of the Cal Swish club team.

“Nikki is a point guard who is a great floor leader and good court vision and really brings a lot to the position,” said Olivier. “Having a player with her kind of winning background in our class is key as we are graduating two senior point guards this year.”

The next signee is Hanford, Calif., native Brooke Johnson. A 5-11 guard, she earned first team All-Bee and CIF D1 All-State Second Team honors as a junior after posting averages of 12.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 5.6 steals per game. She is rated as the No. 57 guard by ESPN HoopGurlz.

“Brooke is a very quick, explosive slasher who can play at both the 2 and 3 spots,” said Olivier. “She loves to attack the basketball, is a very athletic guard, and is a very tough competitor as well.”

Kandyce Smith, a 5-9 guard, is already a current teammate of Wheatley on both Bonita HS and Cal Swish. The No. 59 wing in the country according to ESPN HoopGurlz, Smith played her first three years of high school for La Salle HS, averaging 17 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game before transferring to Bonita for her senior year. While at La Salle, she earned Del Rey League First Team honors while also named Team MVP her junior season. As a sophomore, Smith was named First Team All-CIF, First Team Camino Real League, and First Team All-San Gabriel Valley.

“Kandyce is a strong player that can also play at the 2 and 3 for us,” said Olivier. “She has good handles and has a good physical size, but will also be a good long range threat for us. Also a strong rebounder.”

Simone Sheppard, a native of Sacramento, Calif., is a 6-0 guard/forward. She was named League MVP as a junior at Sacramento HS, and also plays for a top-50 club team in Cal Sparks Nor Cal.

“Simone has good size as a wing player, and could also see time in the post,” said Olivier. “A tough competitor, some of her strengths are her ability to slash to the basket, while also being a good finisher as well.”

The final recruit is Anderson, a Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., native. The 6-0 guard/forward earned First Team All-Inland Valley and All-Baseline League honors last year while helping Etiwanda High to a 28-4 record. She averaged 9.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.2 steals per game for the Eagles, who were CIF Finalists in 2013 and knocked off the No. 1 team in the nation, Mater Dei, 73-72 in the CIF Southern Section semifinal. Anderson was also successful in the classroom, as among her many honors she was a San Bernardino County Scholar Athlete, a Cal State Presidential Scholar Award winner, and also named a CIF Top Scholar. Anderson plays for the West Coast Premier club team in the summers.

“Alyssa does a little bit of everything on the court,” said Olivier. She is a great teammate with a very high basketball IQ, and has a good shooting range as well. A very competitive player.”

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