When Lance White took over the Pitt women’s basketball program last summer, he inherited a full recruiting class from his predecessor.
Already late in the game, White decided that he’d leave the 2018 class status quo and that his first recruiting efforts as a head coach would be toward the Class of 2019.
Those efforts paid dividends on Tuesday, as White was able to announce that five players had signed national letters of intent to play with the Panthers starting next season.
Amber Brown, Cynthia Ezeja, Dayshanette Harris, Emy Hayford and Rita Igbokwe all have signed with Pitt.
Harris, the first recruit to commit to White at Pitt, is a 5-foot-7 point guard from Ursuline High School in nearby Youngstown, Ohio.
“Dayshanette Harris, or as everybody calls her, Day Day, was the first recruit to commit to the exciting things happening at Pitt,” White said. “She comes from up the road in Youngstown. We’re going to watch Day Day as an attack guard. Her ability to make plays around the rim, is one of the best I’ve seen in basketball, and she will revolutionize our defense with her ability to guard the ball. More than any of that, Day Day is a competitor that hates to lose.”
“I chose Pitt because the entire staff showed me what family was like at a university,” Harris said. “I knew Pitt was special the day I received a FaceTime call from a Florida number. No other coach thought to FaceTime me, but I thought that it was special even though it’s just a little thing. The visit was my favorite; it was like catching up with family members you haven’t seen in a long time. I chose Pitt because Pitt is family.”
For the rest of the class, White had to venture a bit farther. Brown and Igbokwe both hail from the south, in the area that White has mined for talent at his previous stops of Florida State and Texas Tech.
Brown, a 6-foot wing from Monroe, Louisiana, and Igbokwe, a 6-foot-4 forward from Jonesboro, Georgia, are both 90-rated, 3-star players according to ESPN, just outside the Top 100 in the nation.
“When we were searching for a strong perimeter player, we knew we found one in Amber Brown,” White said. “She’s one of the hardest workers who will be a great defender. For all those who love good basketball, her pull up jumper is going to be a show stopper in the ACC. …
“Rita Igbokwe has the complete package of talent and kindness on and off the court. While her size will help us tower in the paint, her athletic ability will become the force everyone will envy. Rita can run the floor, add a strong defensive presence, and serve as low post when needed. Her work ethic will take her to new heights we haven’t even begun to see.”
To round out the rest of the class, White ventured to Europe for a pair of guards in Hayford, a 5-foot-7 Dutch combo guard and Ezeja, a 6-foot-3 Greek wing.
“Cynthia Ezeja is a superstar with her international experience,” White said. “Her athleticism is limitless. You’re going to see her get physical in the paint and explode to the basket, and we’re going to witness her best days of basketball at Pitt. On and off the court, she’s also a giving and caring teammate. …
“Emy Hayford has incredible basketball IQ, matched with outstanding athletic ability. Every time she touches the ball, she will be a scoring threat to any opponent. Emy is one of the most explosive and dynamic combo guards I’ve seen. Emy is going to change our backcourt from the time she walks on campus.”
The Panthers are playing with five seniors this season, so as of this moment, the 2019 class is full.