After the loss of five seniors, including three-time Southland Conference Player of the Year Megan Herbert, the reshaping of the Sugar Bears has begun in earnest for Central Arkansas women’s basketball head coach Sandra Rushing.
After signing five guards in the early signing period in November, Rushing and her staff have added four more players this spring with more focus on the front court — signing two interior players (including a junior college All-America) one swing player, and one true guard.
Among the three frontcourt players are 5-foot-11 junior college All-American forward Terai Sadler, out of Crowder College, 6-0 forward Brittany Agee from Shelton State Community College, and one nearby talent in the form of 6-2 center Peyton Herrell from Jessieville High School. The guard is 5-8 Kelsey McClure from Muskogee, Okla.
Sadler, a native of New Plymouth, New Zealand, was named a NJCAA First Team All-American this season after averaging 18.6 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.0 steals per game while shooting 57.2 percent from the field and 85.4 percent from the free-throw line to help her team to a 29-6 record, a No. 14 national ranking and an appearance in the NJCAA Division I national tournament.
"She’s 5-11 but plays 6-2. She’s a tremendous rebounder and a great addition to our team. She fills a gap that was much needed," said UCA coach Sandra Rushing
During Sadler’s two seasons at Crowder, the Lady ‘Riders were 52-15 (.776). She scored in double figures in all but three of her team’s games in 2012-13, never scoring fewer than seven, and scored 20 or more in 15 games with a pair of 30-point games. She also recorded 17 double-doubles this past season, twice grabbing 15 rebounds in a game.
Agee averaged 10.3 points and 6.0 rebounds per game for a Shelton State team that was 33-1 and was the No. 5 team entering the NJCAA national tournament, where they were eliminated in the quarterfinals. In high school at Bessemer, Ala., Agee averaged 12.7 points and 8.0 rebounds and was an Alabama North/South all-star game participant and a Mississippi/Alabama all-star game participant.
"She brings versatility to our program," Rushing said. "She is a hard worker, tremendous rebounder, runs the floor and is a great asset to our program on and off the court. She possesses strong leadership skill and comes from a Shelton State program that has a tradition of winning. She is a true competitor and knows how to win. Brittany will help take our program in the direction we are trying to go."
Herrell averaged 18 points, 9.0 rebounds and five blocks per game en route to being a selection to the Arkansas High School Coaches Association All-Star Game. She was also all-state. She sparked the Lady Lions to winning their first 34 games this season before falling to Greenland in the 3A state championship game. Before transferring to Jessieville, Herrell starred at St. Genevieve (Mo.) High School, leading her team to a school-record 22 wins as a sophomore.
"Her potential is unlimited. She brings size, runs the floor, and her shot-blocking ability is incredible," Rushing. said.
McClure was a four-year starter at guard for a Muskogee team that was ranked No. 2 in class 6A in Oklahoma this season and finished 20-7. Playing alongside Oral Roberts signee Alexus Wilson, McClure was the team’s leading scorer at 21.5 points per game and also averaged 4.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 steals per game and was named All-Phoenix MVP.
"She is a 4.0 student and her basketball IQ is off the charts," Rushing said. "She has unbelievable court vision and will be a key component to this upcoming year’s success. Her 3-point shooting ability is amazing and we are very excited about her becoming a part of Sugar Bear basketball."
The four spring signees join a five-member group from the fall that includes guards Sierra Bone (5-9, Flower Mound, Texas/Marcus HS); Christina Devers (5-7, Bixby, Okla./Bixby HS); Kelsei Ewings (5-5, West Point, Miss./Paris JC/North Carolina A&T); Brianna Mullins (5-5, Rosston, Ark./Nevada HS) and Maggie Proffitt (5-9, Columbus, Miss./Starkville Academy).