Nov. 13, 2013
BEAUMONT, Texas - Lamar University women's basketball coach Robin Harmony announced that five student-athletes have signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Lamar on a women's basketball scholarship.
"I'm very excited about this signing class," Harmony said. "I believe we have a signing class that could be in the top 100 nationally. "We have signed five players who will have an immediate impact even though they will be freshmen."
Baileigh O'Dell, a 5-foot-6 guard from Verdigris, Okla.; Samantha Morgan, a 5-10 guard from Miami, Fla.; Marquelle Williams, a 6-0 forward from Toledo, Ohio; Leah Smith, a 5-11 forward from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and Laka Blache, a 6-1 forward from Memphis, Tenn.; will play for the Lady Cardinals next season.
O'Dell, who was born in Beaumont, averaged 17.0 points and 5.2 steals per game as a junior last season for Verdigris High School as she helped her team win its third straight district title and advance to the state quarterfinals for the second year in a row.
O'Dell, who has scored more than 1,000 points in her high school career, is a member of the Oklahoma High School Honor Society. She has a 3.9 GPA. O'Dell moved to Oklahoma when her father was transferred. She still has many family members in Beaumont.
"Baileigh sees the floor well and is a good passer," Harmony said. "She can shoot the 3 and can play either guard position. We're excited she is coming back to Beaumont."
Morgan averaged 13 points, 5.6 assists, 7.1 rebounds and 7.1 steals per game for Miami Beach High School as she led her team to the regional semifinals. Morgan, who was her team's defensive player of the year, recorded a pair of quadruple-doubles last season.
"Sam is a lock-down defender," Harmony said. "She played AAU basketball for the Miami Suns, one of the top programs in the nation. Players who come out of that program are big-time defenders."
Morgan was also recruited by Jacksonville and Boston University.
Williams averaged 8.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game for Rogers High School as a junior last season, leading her squad to the regional semifinals as Rogers finished with a 22-4 record. She is ranked as the 60th best post player in the Class of 2014 by ESPN.
A member of the National Honor Society, Williams hopes to major in communication at Lamar. She chose Lamar over Toledo, Cleveland State and Eastern Michigan.
"Marquelle is very athletic and a good offensive rebounder," Harmony said. "She has great post moves."
Smith, another product of the Miami Suns AAU program, played for Coral Springs Charter High School, helping her team reach the state finals as a junior, earning honorable mention all-county status.
"She is a great leaper and can get the ball off the rim," Harmony said. "She can play either the 4 or 5 position. She has a great attitude."
Smith chose Lamar over Norfolk State.
Blache, who was ranked 448th nationally in her recruiting class by ESPN, averaged 11.8 points per game as a junior for Whitehaven High School and led her league in blocked shots. She was named to the all-tournament team for the Memphis City Championships and the regional championships.
"Laka will play the wing for us," Harmony said. "She's an explosive shot blocker and a dynamic defender."
Blache chose Lamar over Memphis and Southern Mississippi.
"All five players who signed are great athletes who can play multiple positions," Harmony said. "In addition, they all play strong defense. That's something that is very important to us."
Lamar, which was 22-11 last season, is 1-1 this season under Harmony, who is in her first season with the Lady Cardinals.