Lady Lakers sign three

From staff reports

The Clayton College & State University women's basketball program has solidified its front-court, signing a trio of players to help defend its Peach Belt Conference regular season and tournament championships next year.

Head coach Dennis Cox has announced the signing of three talented junior college players in Sharon Wiles, Jelela Simpson and Tracey Browne. All three players competed at the junior college level last year and are expected to contribute immediately in the Clayton State program.

"We're thrilled to add this kind of size and athleticism to our team," said head coach Dennis Cox. "I can't wait to coach these new players and fit them into our system."

Wiles, a 5-foot-9 forward from Kingsport, Jamaica, is a junior college transfer from Tallahassee Community College in Tallahassee, Fla., where she played for coach Teresa Atkinson. Sharon played her freshman season at Brevard Community College in Melbourne, Florida before transferring to TCC for her sophomore year. She received NJCAA All-Region honors this past year, averaging 17.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 4.6 steals per game.

"Sharon is just an unbelievable athlete," said Cox. "She runs like the wind and is an incredible leaper. Her experience in the game of netball has made her a great passer and team player, as well."

Wiles is the second NJCAA All-Region selection to sign with the Lakers, joining Roberta Phillips of Palm Beach CC. Sharon shot 72 percent from the free throw line in 126 attempts, and her 4.6 steals per game was the third highest average in the country last season among Division I junior college players. She was also one of the world's best netball players and once won a world netball championship with her Jamaican team.

A 6-0 post from Oakland, Calif., Jelela Simpson is a junior college transfer from Odessa College in Odessa, Texas, where she played for coach Nate Altenhofen. Jelela played her freshman year at Contra Costa College in California before transferring to Odessa for her sophomore season. She averaged 11 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.1 steals per game. She also shot 49.3 percent from the floor, while her 3.1 steals per contest ranked 22nd in the nation among Division I junior college players.

"Jelela is a 6-foot athlete that is going to be just awesome in our press," said Cox. "She has great anticipation and range in the full court and really attacks the basketball on the boards."

Browne is a 6-3 post from St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and like Wiles, is also a junior college transfer from Tallahassee Community College. Tracey averaged 4.2 points and 6.4 rebounds and shot 49.5 percent from the floor her sophomore season. She had a stellar high school career at Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas.

"Tracey Browne gives us a combination of size, strength and athleticism that we did not have this past year," said Cox.

The trio of Wiles, Simpson and Browne join three other Laker signees this spring in Palm Beach Community College's Roberta Phillips, Florida Community College's Teri Willis and PBCC's Alecia Humphrey.

Phillips, a 5-foot-7 shooting guard from Savannah, received NJCAA All-Region VIII honors this past year, while averaging 18.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 3.6 steals per game. Willis, a 5-5 point guard also from Savannah, is a two-time Mid-Florida All-Conference recipient, and averaged 13.3 points, 2.8 assists, and 2.4 steals per game. A 6-2 post from Okmulgee, Okla., Humphrey received All-Southern Conference honors, averaging 12.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.2 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game.

Clayton State graduated six players from the 2004-05 squad that finished with a school best 25-7 record. Along with winning the Peach Belt regular season and conference tournament for the first time, the program also played in its first NCAA Division II Tournament, advancing to the second round of the national tournament.