Nov. 9, 2011
Gopher head coach Pam Borton announced Wednesday that a trio of local prep standouts have signed National Letters of Intent to play women's basketball next season at the University of Minnesota.
Mikayla Bailey of Maple Grove, Minn. (Osseo HS), Jackie Johnson of Eden Prairie (Eden Prairie HS) and Shayne Mullaney of Eden Prairie, Minn. (Eden Prairie HS) will join Minnesota's program as freshmen for the 2012-13 season.
"Mikayla, Jackie and Shayne have been well-coached and well-prepared to play at the collegiate level," Borton said. "We have found three players that really want to be Gophers and they will be great ambassadors for our program. They are the total package as student-athletes."
Bailey, a 5-9 guard from Osseo, is a two-time all-conference selection and has been named her team's Best Defensive Player for three-straight seasons. Bailey was voted onto the all-tournament team at the Hopkins Holiday Classic as a sophomore and was named the Player of the Game at the Breakdown Tip Off Classic during her junior campaign.
"I am very excited to become a Gopher and I have been ever since my junior year when the coaches started looking at me," Bailey said. "When Coach Borton offered me a scholarship it was like a dream-come-true. I am so blessed and thankful to the coaching staff for offering me the opportunity to play at Minnesota."
Heading into her senior season, Bailey has been named a team captain for her squad and earned a spot on the All-Conference Leadership Team at Osseo High School.
"Mikayla exemplifies what it is to be a Gopher," Borton said of Bailey. "She will bring a lot of toughness to our team. She is the type of player that you need on the floor. She will go to war for you and she is going to battle for her team. She is a great defender - she can score and shoot. Her mentality, toughness and mindset are intangibles that we need to have on this team."
As juniors at Eden Prairie High School in 2010-11, Johnson and Mullaney led the Eagles to their best finish in school history (21-7), which included a sectional championship and a runner-up finish at the Minnesota State High School League's Class AAAA State Championship.
Johnson, a 6-2 forward, is ranked in the top-100 nationally and No. 11 at her position by ESPN.com's HoopGurlz, while also being ranked the No. 1 recruit in the state of Minnesota by GPrep.net. Johnson earned first team all-state honors, second-team all-metro accolades and was a member of the all-conference team for the second-straight year last season as a team captain. Johnson was also honored with a spot on the Minnesota State High School League's Class AAAA State Championship All-Tournament Team after netting 14 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in the title game. The forward was also an all-state honorable mention pick in her sophomore campaign.
"It means so much to me to become a Gopher, because it is my hometown school," Johnson said. "I am excited to be able to work hard and show everyone what Minnesota basketball is all about. It is a unique experience to be able to play in my home state and in front of my family and friends, because not many people get the opportunity to do that. I am really excited about where the program is headed and I think we will make great things happen."
The forward holds the Eden Prairie High School record for career blocks and ranks fifth all-time in points.
"I am very excited to have Jackie join our program," Borton said. "She definitely brings a lot of versatility to our team. She can shoot, she can drive, she can rebound and she can defend in and out. She is the type of player that can play both ends of the floor. We expect great things from her and I am really excited to coach her."
"Jackie is one of those skilled post-players with the potential to play either interior position," National Director of Prospects for ESPN HoopGurlz, Chris Hansen, said. "She is athletic and mobile, so she can play some four and she is long enough to be able to play some five, too. That makes her a real weapon because you don't have to use her one certain way. She is going to be able to beat a lot of traditional fives down the floor and get early post-position. I think she will be a huge asset to the Gophers, and for Minnesota to be able to get a player as versatile as she is in this class is a big boost for their recruiting."
Mullaney, a 5-10 guard from Eden Prairie, was twice named to the Pioneer Press All-State Honorable Mention Team and was selected three-straight years for the all-conference team. Mullaney was named the Eagles' team captain in 2010-11 and again in her senior campaign, while also being the recipient of the Eagle Leadership Award. With 445 points last season, Mullaney set the Eden Prairie HS record for most points scored in a single-season.
"Minnesota just feels like home to me," Mullaney said. "My brother went to school there and my sister was recruited by Coach Borton, so the coaches, the players and the places around campus are pretty familiar to me. I prayed about becoming a Gopher, and having the answer to my prayer is a dream-come-true. I am just thankful that Coach Borton gave me this opportunity. I am really looking forward to playing for her and her coaching staff."
The guard was selected to the all-tournament team at the Minnesota State High School League's Class AAAA State Championship last season after surpassing 1,000 career points in the first half of the title game and finishing with 12 points for the contest.
"I am very, very excited about Shayne and her passion and excitement to be a Gopher," Borton said of Mullaney. "She can do anything on the court. She can handle the ball, she can run a team, she can score and she can defend. She is an individual that you want around you for four years because she is going to make you a better coach."
When not playing for their respective prep programs, Mullaney and Bailey have been teammates for one of the top AAU programs in the nation - North Tartan Nike Elite, directed by Bill Larson. While with the squad, the duo helped North Tartan to a National Championship title at the prestigious Boo Williams Invitational in the summer of 2009, while Bailey earned Most Valuable Player accolades at the Music City Madness Tournament that same summer.
"Fans should be excited about Shayne and Mikayla coming into the program at Minnesota, because they are going to be contributing," Larson said of the pair. "In one way or another, they are going to put minutes on the floor. I know their expectation when they come in is to take minutes from somebody that is already there, and that is a good thing. That's when teams get better."
Johnson also spends her offseason playing for another top AAU program - the Metro Stars. Johnson has helped the Metro Stars Black to over 60 wins in the past two years with the program, and director Andy Meinhardt has only high praise for the forward.
"Jackie is a winner and a leader, and she is going to bring a very strong work ethic to the University of Minnesota," Meinhardt said. "They have a very good player coming. She is somebody that will one day be a team captain for them because she demands the best of herself and those around her. Both on and off of the court, Jackie is as good as it gets as a player and as a person."
Though the trio will not be on campus for another year, they are eagerly anticipating their final year of high school basketball. Johnson and Mullaney, who are not only teammates and captains at Eden Prairie, but best friends, are hoping for a return trip to the Minnesota State High School League's Class AAAA State Championship. Eden Prairie head coach Chris Carr knows that his players will do everything they can to make that happen.
"My expectations for Jackie and Shayne this season are for them to enjoy this year and enjoy the fact that they have worked hard to become Division I basketball players," Carr said. "I don't have to put pressure on them to have a 25-win season, because they have that expectation of themselves. They want to compete and win."
Bailey also looks to lead her team back to the state tournament this season as one of the team's captains.
"The biggest thing for Mikayla this year is to continue to be a leader," Osseo head coach Joey Waters said. "She is the prime example of a kid who has worked her way to the top, and now she is getting that reward by signing with the Gophers. My expectation for her as a senior is to maintain that leadership quality and have other players look at her as a leader. I also expect her to be more of an offensive threat this year, which is something we haven't asked her to do in the past."
Game Preview: Detroit Mercy
Minnesota looks to get back on track against the Titans on Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Video: Meet Sue Key
The guard and Louisiana native joined the Gophers by way of junior college.
Courtside with Kenisha Bell
The Gophers assists leader and one of the team's top scorers, Bell has returned to the court where she played state tournament games.