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NKU Sports Notebook: Brannen adds five to Norse roster; women pick up four recruits

Men’s basketball head coach John Brannen has announced a recruiting class that features five future Norse that will suit up in the Black & Gold for Northern Kentucky beginning in the fall of 2016. Mason Faulkner, Blake Spellman, Jalen Tate, Dantez Walton and Carson Williams have signed National Letters of Intent to play for NKU next season.

“Today is a big day. Signing day is the next step in building our men’s basketball program,” stated Brannen. “I am very excited for these five guys to join our team. They embody what this program is about. Their work ethic. Their character. And, their style of play.”

The recruiting class features two players from the Commonwealth of Kentucky, two from Ohio and one from Missouri. Three of the players have garnered recognition as three-star recruits, while the other two were tabbed with two-stars.

Mason Faulkner
A 6-3 combo guard, Faulkner comes to Northern Kentucky from Caverna High in Glasgow, Kentucky. Faulkner is an accomplished scorer who raised his scoring average from 18 points per game as a freshman to 23.8 his sophomore season and 30.3 last year as a junior. He also attacks the glass, hauling in nearly 600 rebounds in his first three seasons at Caverna.

NKU men's basketball coach John Brannen added five new recruits to the Norse roster (NKU Athletics Photo)

NKU men’s basketball coach John Brannen added five new recruits to the Norse roster (NKU Athletics Photo)

Consecutive all-state honors highlight Faulkner’s list of accolades. He was an all-state second team honoree as a junior and all-state honorable mention recipient his sophomore campaign. Faulkner is listed as a 3-star recruit from both Scout.com and Rivals.

“Mason is a young man that can score in a variety of ways. He can shoot the three, knock down mid-range jumpers and get to the rim. He also does a good job of making those around him better,” commented Brannen.

Blake Spellman
Spellman is a 6-1 point guard from Lee’s Summit High School in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. LSHS has reached the 20-win plateau in each of the last two seasons under Spellman’s leadership. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.7 assists during his sophomore season and upped both averages to 17 points and five assists as a junior.

Consecutive first-team all-district and first-team all-conference honors highlight Spellman’s awards. VerbalCommits.com lists Spellman as a 2-star recruit for the Norse.

“The fans at NKU are going to love Blake’s game,” said Brannen. “He’s a true point guard who really makes the game easier for others, which is the best compliment for a point guard. He’s got a little bit of flare to his game that the fans will enjoy.”

Jalen Tate
Tate is a 2015 all-conference honoree for Pickerington Central HS in Pickerington, Ohio. He averaged 15 points, seven rebounds and seven assists as a game during his junior campaign.

A 2-star recruit by VerbalCommits.com, Tate’s heritage lies on the hardwood. His father Jermaine Tate played for Ohio State and Cincinnati prior to a 13-year professional career overseas and his brother Jae’Sean Tate is currently a sophomore forward at Ohio State.

“When we first watched Jalen, it was very obvious that he as a good fit for this style of play. He’s really long and plays extremely hard. He’s the right fit at the right time,” said Brannen.

Dantez Walton
A native of Lima, Ohio, and product of Lima Central Catholic, Scout.com has ranked the 6-5 Walton a 3-star recruit. As a junior, Walton tallied 16 points and 8 boards per game. Lima Central has gone 72-8 during Walton’s career.

An all-district performer last season, Walton has led LCC to back-to-back state finals appearances.

“Dantez is a young man that affects winning, whether it is defensively, offensively or rebounding the basketball. He brings a lot to the game of basketball,” described Brannen.

Carson Williams
Williams is 6-7 wing from Owen County High School in Owenton, Kentucky. The ESPN 3-star recruit averaged 22.5 points and 15.1 rebounds per game as a junior. Those numbers came on the heels of averages of 24.1 points and 13.8 boards during his sophomore campaign.

The list of accolades bestowed to Williams includes 2014 Courier Journal third-team all-state, 2015 Courier Journal second-team all-state and 2015 Lexington Herald second-team all-state. He has also received multiple academic first-team all-state honors and anticipates majoring in Criminal Justice.

“Carson brings versatility in being able to play both forward positions and the athleticism and physicality that we need in the Horizon League. Our fans are going to enjoy watching him,” said Brannen.

Norse men’s games on iHeartRadio

For the second-straight year the Northern Kentucky University men’s basketball games will be carried on the iHeartRadio family of stations in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region, highlighted by ESPN1530 (WCKY-AM). Norse contests will also air on FOXSports1360 (WSAI-AM), 55KRC (550-AM) and The Project (100.7/106.3 FM).

All 29 of Northern Kentucky’s regular-season games and contests played in Motor City Madness, the Horizon League’s men’s basketball championship, will be broadcast on the four stations.

Currently, nine games are scheduled for each ESPN1530 and FOXSports1360. Seven contests are slated for 55KRC, two for The Project and two regular-season games plus the League championship are awaiting clearance.

Jim Kelch and Steve Moeller return as the voice of the Norse. Kelch is a seasoned veteran in the broadcasting field, serving as part of the Cincinnati Reds broadcast crew. A former collegiate coach and administrator, Moeller serves as color commentator for the Norse and brings a wealth of knowledge about college basketball.

Northern Kentucky kicks off its 2015-16 season on Friday at West Virginia, with tipoff slated for 7 p.m. The game will be carried on The Project (100.7/106.3 FM). Please see the men’s basketball schedule on NKUNorse.com for the full radio broadcast slate.

Norse women announce new basketball recruiting class

The Northern Kentucky University Women’s Basketball team announced the signing of four student-athletes to national letters of intent. These young women will arrive on campus for the 2016-2017 season, and will help usher in NKU’s first year of NCAA Division I postseason eligibility.

“We are extremely excited about the four young ladies who have joined our Norse family!” said head coach Dawn Plitzuweit. “First and foremost, they are incredible people that come from very special families. Secondly, they are top notch students and third of all they are great basketball players. In terms of basketball, this class adds size, length, athleticism, and a highly competitive nature to our Norse squad. Hannah, Ansley, Hayley, and Laura have all played in high school and AAU programs that are coached very well and win at an extremely high level.”

Hannah Clark, a 5-11 guard from Millersburg, Ohio, will provide an additional scoring punch to the Norse offense. The senior from West Holmes High School averaged 14.3 points and six rebounds per game in her junior season. Clark has led West Holmes to a remarkable 81-6 record in her three seasons, with a Final Four finish in 2015, State Runner Up in 2013, and a State Championship in 2014. Clark also is an accomplished runner in track and field as well as cross country, and played club basketball with SMAC Believe. She plans to major in business when she enrolls at NKU.

The Northern Kentucky University Women’s Basketball team announced the signing of four student-athletes to national letters of intent. These young women will arrive on campus for the 2016-2017 season, and will help usher in NKU’s first year of NCAA Division I postseason eligibility (NKU Athletics Photo)

The Northern Kentucky University Women’s Basketball team announced the signing of four student-athletes to national letters of intent. These young women will arrive on campus for the 2016-2017 season, and will help usher in NKU’s first year of NCAA Division I postseason eligibility (NKU Athletics Photo)

“Hannah is a high-energy person and carries that out onto the court,” said Plitzuweit. “She has the ability to shoot it from the arc, slash to the basket, attack in transition, and she can also post up and score. More importantly, she defends well and with her length and athleticism, she covers a lot of ground. We are thrilled about Hannah’s decision to join our program!”

Ansley Eubank, a 5-9 guard coming from Murfreesboro, Tennessee and Oakland High School, will bring a winning pedigree and strong defensive ability to the Norse. In her three high school seasons she has helped lead her teams to records of 24-6, 26-7, and 28-8. As a junior, she averaged 9.4 points and 2.8 steals per game while helping the Patriots to the TSSAA Class AAA state runner-up. She played club basketball for Kentucky Premier, who competed at the highest level in the Nike EYBL circuit.

“Ansley has played against the best competition in the country in both her high school and AAU seasons,” added Plitzuweit. “She is a combo guard who we believe can help us attack in transition as well as in a half-court setting. She is a player who is a relentless worker and is a lockdown defender. We believe that she is a warrior and we are very excited to have her suit up in a Norse jersey soon.”

Hayley Combs, a 6-0 forward from Alter High School in Centerville, Ohio, will provide size and versatility in the frontcourt for the Norse. Over the course of the past two seasons, Combs’ Alter teams have accumulated a 59-1 record, including a State Championship in 2015. She has averaged 4.3 rebounds in her career while also averaging 7.3 points per game. Combs is a two-sport athlete at Alter High School, also participating in softball. She has played her club basketball with the Angels of Mason, Ohio.

“Hayley carries herself with an enthusiasm that is contagious,” noted Plitzuweit. “She is listed as a post player, but has the ability to do more than simply play with her back to the basket. We believe that she can have an impact on both ends of the court with her size and toughness. She will be joining Kelley Wiegman and Kasey Uetrecht who also competed in the Cincinnati Angels AAU Program prior to becoming a Norse. We could not be more excited about Hayley’s decision to join us at NKU!”

Laura Thomas, a junior guard from New Castle High School in Indiana, will bring playmaking and shooting ability when she arrives on campus. In her junior campaign, she averaged 15.5 points, and 3.8 assists per game. Clark earned All-HHC honorable mention as a sophomore, and was an All-HHC selection following her junior season. She played club basketball with the Indy Gym Rats.

“Laura is a high-IQ point guard that has a great feel for the game. Her skill set is complimented by her poise and composure on the court. She can set up her teammates as well as knock down shots herself. She is an ultra-competitor that gives her best effort in all facets of the game. We are eager for Laura’s arrival on our campus!”

Clark, Eubank, Combs, and Thomas will join the NKU team after they complete their senior season of high school basketball and graduate in the spring. NKU will begin its second season in the Horizon League as these four players join the squad.

From NKU Athletics

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