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New USM Lady Eagles...

Southern Miss Women's Basketball Team Inks Two During Early Signing Period

HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- Southern Miss Head Women's Basketball Coach Joye Lee-McNelis has announced the signing of Kassietta Brown of West Monroe, La., Geneshia Dunbar of Dallas, Texas, and Danielle Johnson of Tuscaloosa, Ala., to national letters of intent and grant-in-aids for the 2009-10 academic year.

"As a staff, we are excited about the future of Lady Eagle basketball," McNelis said. "We believe this recruiting class has the ability to make a major mark on this program during their careers. Each possesses a love for the game and is willing to do what it takes to be successful on the court and in the classroom. Each young lady does not simply want to earn a degree from Southern Miss, but wants to be one of the top student-athletes to wear a Lady Eagle uniform."

Brown, a 5-9 guard, averaged 17 points, 10 rebounds and four assists per game as a junior at West Monroe High School. She earned all-district honors twice and was named the district MVP. An all-state selection in 2008 also garnered all-Northeast Louisiana accolades.

"Kassietta provides great versatility in this class," McNelis said. "She will fill a gap being left by Amber Eugene with her ability to play multiple positions. We expect Kassietta to come in and play all three perimeter positions. She plays with a high level of intensity which will be a great fit for the pressing, up-tempo style we like to play."

Brown was a three-year letterwinner for Coach John Green. She is the daughter of Anthony and Tammy Smith. She played AAU for the Arkansas Mavericks and Coach Ronald Rogers.

"Kassietta is a very skilled offensive player who brings a great work ethic to practice daily," Green said.

While playing for the Arkansas Mavericks 16U team, she helped the team capture the Arkansas State championship in 2008.  That team also finished fifth in the nation in 2007 at the 15U AAU National Championships.

"I chose Southern Miss because I felt comfortable around the coaching staff," Brown said. "It felt like a second home."

Dunbar, a 6-3 center, averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks for Coach Chanda Rigby at Pensacola Junior College. She earned Panhandle All-conference honors as a freshman.

"We are thrilled about Geneshia joining our program," McNelis said. "She has overcome many obstacles to become a tremendous young lady, student and basketball player. She plays with heart and passion. As a 6-3 post, she has the ability to score in a variety of ways. Her toughness and versatility has the staff excited about the future."

Dunbar played at Hillcrest High School in Dallas, Texas, where she averaged 16.2 points and 11.5 rebounds as a senior for Coach Deidra Rucker. As a junior she averaged 14 points, 12 rebounds and 3.3 blocks. She was named first team all-district and district defensive MVP in 2006, after garnering newcomer of the year honors as a sophomore, when she chipped in 12 points and 12 rebounds an outing.

"Geneshia is a very talent post player who had many scholarship offers to many Division I programs," Rigby said. "There is no one I would rather have her play for than Joye Lee-McNelis at Southern Miss."

Johnson, a 6-0 guard, played at Hillcrest High School in Tuscaloosa, where she was a five-year letterwinner for Coach Jerome Elliott. She scored 19 points and had seven rebounds and four assists in her first game this season. As a junior, she averaged 18 points, 6.0 rebounds, five assists and three steals per game, while shooting 86 percent from the free throw line.

"Danielle is definitely a big piece to the puzzle," McNelis said. "Losing Kendra Reed, arguably one of the best perimeter shooters to wear a Lady Eagle uniform, we needed to sign a player who could shoot the basketball with great consistency and range. As a staff, we feel Danielle's ability to extend the defense will make our team more difficult to defend."

Johnson was selected to the North-South All-Star Team in 2008. She was voted MVP in four tournaments over the last two years and received all-regional honors twice.

"Danielle is the best shooter/scorer I have ever coached," Elliott said. "She has the unbelievable shooting range and is a hard worker who is an outstanding student and person."

Johnson played for the AAU team, Alabama Road Runners, and Coach Reggie Ware.

According to Ware, "Danielle is a hardworking player who loves to compete on the floor.  She is one of the best shooters that I've ever seen."

Johnson was named co-captain of her team for two straight seasons and also named her team's MVP.

"I choose Southern Miss because they have an excellent coaching staff and an awesome academic program," said Johnson. "I believe this is where God wants me to be."

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