Indiana University Northwest Head Women's Basketball Coach Ryan Shelton has announced his 2020-21 recruiting class with the signing of 12 incoming players. The 12 player class is the largest for women's basketball since 2008.
"We didn't set out to sign this big of a class, however "Northwest Indiana" has always been the core of our success in recruiting and it became clear that several standout "Region" players that we were interested in also had mutual interest in our university and academic programs," said Shelton. "Their skill sets, academics and character all aligned with our roster needs and program culture and we're excited to welcome each of them and their families to our RedHawk family."
Kristen Cravens (5-11 / Forward / Portage HS)
2019-20 Stats: 10.7 ppg / 4.1 rpg / 1.0 apg / 3pt FG: 82 / 3pt FG% 39
Awards: NWI Times All-Area Honorable Mention, Post-Tribune Honorable Mention, All-Duneland Conference, Team's Best Offensive Player
Shelton said Kristen was a player that we sought out early for this recruiting class.
"Her size and range to stretch the floor at the four-spot as one of the top three-point shooters in the state was a primary need for us," said Shelton. "She comes from a highly successful team first and winning culture at Portage."
Cravens said she chose IUN because she wanted to part of the upcoming change that the program wants to see.
"I want to be a part of a winning and caring team which is exactly where I have landed myself," said Cravens. "IUN is a perfect fit for me and I also get to play with my best friend for the next four years. I am beyond excited and thankful for all the opportunity."
Cravens plans to major in Dental Hygiene.
Taylor Jaksich (5-11 / Guard / Lake Central HS)
2019-20 Stats: 10.0 ppg / 2.2 rpg / 1.1 apg / 1.6 spg / 0.8 bpg
Awards: NWI Times All-Area 4th Team, Post-Tribune All Area Honorable Mention, All Duneland Conference, Team MVP
Shelton said Taylor has been a focal point of our recruiting since she sophomore year.
"A knee injury her junior season, didn't affect the way we felt about her," said Shelton. "She proved her toughness and ability to play 24 games her senior season despite not being close to 100%. She's along athletic wing and playmaker that can stretch the defense, get to the rim and is talented and unselfish playmaker."
Jaksich said she chose to attend IUN because i felt welcomed and wanted.
"I like that IUN will feel like home since I am already familiar with some of the players," said Jaksich. "I really like Coach Shelton's mindset when it comes to winning. I am really excited to play for a coach who is willing to give it his all and fight for his players."
Jaksich is planning to major in Pre-Physical Therapy at IUN.
Karli Miller (5-9 / Guard / Transfer from Aurora / Andrean HS)
2018-19 Stats: 13.5 ppg / 5.9 rpg / 3.4 apg / 3.6 spg / 47% FG / 33% 3pt
Awards: Times All-Area Team Honorable Mention, Post-Tribune All-Area Team, Northwest Crossroads All-Conference, Team MVP
Shelton said Miller is a do it all point guard with great leadership ability and an unmatched competitive spirit.
"She plays the point guard position like a middle linebacker that can take over a game on the defensive end alone while she's relentless at attacking the rim," said Shelton. "She brings a physical mindset and toughness that we desperately needed, shr has the ability to be a centerpiece of our success for a long time."
Miller said she chose IUN because I get to continue my academic and athletic career at a great institution close to home so my parents can be at my games.
Olivia Klinger (5'8" / Guard / Washington Township)
Stats: 16.5 ppg / 3.3 rpg / 1.6 apg / 1.7 spg / 41 3pt FG
Awards: NWI Times All Area Honorable Mention, Post-Tribune All-Area Honorable Mention, All-Porter County Conference, IBCA All-State Honorable Mention Team, MVP
"Olivia is a talented scorer that will provide more talent and depth at the shooting guard position," said Shelton. "She was one of the top three-point shooters in our region, an area that we need to improve. Olivia is a high character individual, passionate about basketball and loves the game, she's a great fit for our program."
Klinger said she knew from the moment that she walked onto campus, she knew that IUN was the one for her.
"Everyone was so welcoming and so kind to me it seemed so surreal," said Klinger. "Over the summer, I came to lots of open gyms and continued to receive the same energy. The fire seemed similar to my high school and drew me in. The basketball program is a family and a culture that is so amazing, it's hard to find words to describe it . Being an NAIA school many people look over IUN when in reality, most people would love to have the opportunity to play there. The coaches and players have the strive to do whatever it takes to win and the hype energy spreads like a wildfire to the whole team. Me personally, I am excited and eager to be involved in a culture and family that is irreplaceable."
Klinger plans to major in Secondary Education.
Haley Rokosz (5'8" / Guard / Hebron)
2019-20 Stats: 11.3 ppg
Awards: Times All-Area Honorable Mention, Team Offensive Player of the Year, All Porter County Conference
Shelton said Haley is a talented shooting guard that can score.
"She enjoyed a decorated high school career and fills a need at the scoring guard spot where we needed to add talent and depth," said Shelton. "She's a great student and teammate and fit for our program's culture, we're excited to have her with us."
Rokosz said she chose the IUN basketball program because it felt like home to her.
"I couldn't see myself anywhere else but here," said Rokosz. "I met the team once and it felt like I fit right in. I watched the team play and it seemed like they always got along and they seemed like family."
Rokosz plans to major in Radiology.
Kaitlyn Foutz (5'9" / Guard / Calumet Christian)
Stats: 16.9 ppg / 8.6 rpg / 1.8 apg / 2.8 spg / 41% FG / 1,000 career points
Awards: NWI Times All-Area Honorable Mention, Team MVP
Shelton said Kaitlyn is a great student and immediate adds length and athleticism on the wing for us.
"She has bounce to get to the rim and speed to score in transition and shoots it well from three," said Shelton. "She played in the same travel program as Michaela Schmidt and Sarah Martin so there's already some familiarity with our roster and comfort level. Kaitlyn is as dedicated as any young player we have ever had join our program."
Foutz said she chose IU Northwest and their basketball program because it seemed like a great and successful program to be a part of.
"I enjoyed getting to know Coach Shelton and the team last summer," said Foutz. "I like how hard Coach Shelton pushes the team to work hard and succeed. I also knew a couple of the girls on the team from my Thunder AAU program and felt comfortable working with them. I also love the idea of getting an IU degree in the field I'm interested in which is physical therapy."
Foutz plans to major in Pre-Physical Therapy.
Jenna Mercer (5-6 / Guard / Whiting)
Stats: 13.1 ppg / 6.1 rpg / 1.7 apg / 1.3 spg / 37 3pt FG
Awards: Team Times All-Area Honorable Mention, All-Greater South Shore Conference, Team MVP
Shelton said Jenna is a physically strong and athletic guard that can play at either guard spot," said Shelton. "Her physical toughness and ability to score and rebound from the point guard position will play very well in our conference. She is used to playing around the rim on both ends of the floor and has the ability to score over the top of the defense."
Mercer said she chose Indiana Northwest because she wanted to stay home.
"I also wanted to continue playing basketball at a good academic school and a school that has proven success in women's basketball and athletics," said Mercer.
Mercer plans to major in Secondary Education.
Troilisia Lacey (5-3 / Guard / Portage)
Stats: 8.4 ppg / 4 apg / 2.4 rpg / 1.8 spg / 34% 3pt
Awards: Times All-Area 4th Team / Post-Tribune All-Area Honorable Mention / All-Duneland Conference / Team MVP
Shelton said Lacey even at her size is a big-time competitor and playmaker.
"She was a catalyst for Portage who set a program best win total (20-6)," said Shelton. "She's an outstanding teammate and compeitior and gives us another great option to help fortify our point guard position."
Lacey said she chose IU Northwest because of the opportunities they have laid out for me.
"They have an amazing Dental Hygiene program, and a location that is very close to home," said Lacey. "I knew the RedHawks were the team for me when I watched a few games and saw that my talent could potentially be put to great use on the court with them. I'm excited for the bonds I'm able to create with my new teammates."
Lacey plans to major in Dental Hygiene.
Ally McConnell (5-11 / Forward / Marquette Catholic)
Stats: 19.2 ppg / 7.3 rpg / 1.1 apg / 1.5 spg / 42% FG / 21 3pt FG
Awards: NWI Times All-Area 4th team / Post-Tribune All-Area Honorable Mention / Team MVP
Shelton said Ally is a two-time state champion who really came into her own as senior with an expanded role.
"She put up gaudy numbers and is another long versatile player that can play both inside and lout for us," said Shelton. "She has a post player's mentality and good length to go along with perimeter skills. She's a tough competitor that can score and be an impact player on the glass.
McConnell said she chose IUN firstly because the education opportunities it will give her to be successful in the future.
"I would like to major in Elementary Education and the program is one of the best in the area," said McConnell. "The location is also perfect and I will get to play basketball in my own backyard. The basketball program is one of best in the region while competing at a competitive level.
McConnell plans to major in Elementary Education.
Sydney Van Meter (5-10 / Guard / Rensselaer Central)
Stats: 12.5 ppg / 8.0 rpg / 29 3pt FG / 1,000 Career Points
Awards: IBCA All-State Honorable Mention Team / All-Hoosier Athletic Conference / Rensselaer Republican Player of the Year / Team MVP
Shelton said Sydney is another long and talented guard that battled through a knee injury prior to her senior year.
"Despite not being 100% she still put up stellar numbers and is a versatile wing player that can score and facilitate," said Shelton. "With her ability to shoot the three combined with her length we expect her to be an impact player on both ends of the floor."
Van Meter chose IU Northwest because she wanted to be part of a program that wants to win.
"I love that I will be receiving an IU degree and that the school is committed to supporting the student-athletes academically," said Van Meter.
Van Meter plans to major in Pre-Physical Therapy.
Samantha Martin (5-11 / Guard / Kankakee Valley)
Stats: 8.9 ppg / 6.9 rpg / 1.2 apg / 2.4 spg / 0.7 bpg
Awards: Rensselaer Republican All-Area Team / IBCA Academic All-State Honorable Mention
Shelton said Sam is a versatile player that can play both inside and out.
"She is long and a willing defender and rebounder," said Shelton. "She shares her competitiveness with her sister and teammate Sarah, and she had versatility and ability to guard multiple positions multiple. We're excited about the player she can develop into at the college level.
Martin said she was indecisive if I wanted to run cross country or play basketball in college.
"After playing with the IUN girls team last summer after my junior year, deep down I always knew I was going to choose IUN," said Martin. "It was ultimately the best choice for me I think, not only because I enjoyed playing with the team but IUN has the nursing program I want to go into, it's close to home and I will be able to play basketball with my sister again."
Martin plans to major in Pre-Physical Therapy.
Halle Rosado (5-7 / Guard / Portage)
Shelton said Halle was an integral part of Portage's success and culture in winning a program best 20 games this past season.
"Her high school team was extremely deep and her value went well beyond statistics," said Shelton. "Halle is a great teammate who will also compete in women's soccer at IU Northwest."
Rosado said her choice of college was to already attend Indiana University Northwest for academics.
"My mind was set on just completely my set major and career," said Rosado. "When I was given and offered the opportunity to play in the IUN basketball program I took it as a great chance for me to take my game to the next level."
Rosado plans to major in Pre-Physical Therapy.
IUN is coming off a 11-19 record in 2019-20 and a 8-14 mark in the CCAC. The RedHawks return seven letter winners this upcoming season led by sophomores Breanna Boles, Michaela Schmidt, Lauren Smolen and Sarah Martin.
IU Northwest RedHawks Athletics is a proud member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) and offer 11 varsity sports.