Renee Bennett (Muskego, Wis./Muskego HS), Frannie Frazier (Columbus, Ohio./Worthington HS), Calyn Hosea (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS), Shelby Merder (Jasper, Ind./Jasper HS), Jill Morrison (Winchester, Ind./Winchester HS) and Haley Richardson (Ligonier, Ind./West Noble HS) all signed to join the Ball State program in 2013-14.
"I couldn't be happier with our first class.," said Sallee. "These six young ladies are exactly what we had to have as we build our program. They bring diverse talents to the table, but the things they have in common, toughness and competitiveness, are necessities. My staff did a tremendous job putting this class together and I look forward to seeing them compete at a high level for Ball State."
One of three guards coming to Ball State next season is Frazier, a 5-9 guard out of Thomas Worthington High School, she played AAU with the Capital City Comets and received a "Division I top 25 team" talent ranking from OGBR (Ohio Girls Basketball Report). Frazier was named to the 2012 Ohio Capital Conference First Team. She averaged 13.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.8 steals as a junior for the Cardinals.
"Frannie is a big-time talent," said Sallee. "She is Strong, athletic and a competitor...does it get any better than that? A lefty that can get it to the hole against anyone, Frannie is an opponent's nightmare! You will see Frannie playing multiple positions and I look forward to seeing her impact our program on both ends of the floor. She has worked her tail off to get to this point in her career and I think we are getting a young lady that is extremely motivated to be special here."
Hosea, a 5-11 guard from Lawrence Central High School averaged 9.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks while shooting 56 percent from the field during her junior year. She also earned All-Conference Indiana honors and played AAU with the Gym Rats.
"We are really excited about Calyn," said Sallee. " She is that long athletic guard that we just don't have. She has tremendous handles along with a very good ability to pass the ball. Where I think she may impact the game the most is on the defensive end of the floor. She is a lock-down defender and with her length can guard multiple positions. Calyn is a great fit for the way we want to play and it is exciting to pull an Indianapolis product that is this talented to Muncie."
The final guard in the Cardinals' recruiting class is Morrison, a 5-7 product of Winchester High School. Morrison was named the 2011-12 Muncie Star Press Athlete of the Year after averaging 27.1 points per game while leading the state of Indiana in scoring as a junior. Last season she was named the Tri-Eastern Conference Player of the Year while also earning Indiana Junior All Star and all-conference honors. Morrison scored her 1,000th career point last season in a win over Monroe Central. She has helped the Falcons to their first two sectional and regional titles over the course of her playing career. Morrison was a member of Indiana Elite.
"Jill was a huge signee for us," said Sallee. "Clearly when you have a local player as talented as Jill is and one of the top players in the state, to be able to keep her home was big. She is the perfect 2 guard but as talented as she is, her toughness and intensity are what separates her from most. We look forward to her filling it up in Worthen for the next few years, I know the fans will love the way she plays! Jill Morrison on our roster changes the program from day one."
As for the front court, Ball State starts off by signing Bennett, a 6-5 center from Muskego High School. Bennett has been ranked nationally as a top 40 post player in the Blue Star Basketball Report. She averaged 6.7 points, 6.0 rebound, 2.0 blocks per contest as a junior. Bennett recorded a season- best 28 points at the sectional level. A top 50 senior in the state of Wisconsin, she received honorable mention all-conference honors last year. She played AAU with Wisconsin Playgroud Elite.
"Every program needs a go-to post player and Renee is it," said Sallee. "Clearly she has the size we were looking for but when you see her ability to run the floor and how hard she competes, it is evident that we landed a good one. Renee has very good hands and is very agile, which as a post player is extremely important. She has all the tools and when you add her coachabilty together with her tremendous work ethic, it is easy to get excited about where this program can go with Renee."
Merder, a 6-3 forward from Jasper High School averaged 12.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 4.0 blocks while also shooting 81 percent from the charity stripe last season. She is the all-time shot block record holder for the Wildcats. A highly decorated player as she was selected a Indiana Junior All Star and received Big 8 All-Conference honors while helping her team win sectionals. Merder played AAU for Indiana Elite.
"Shelby is a coach's dream," said Sallee. "She is a stud on the court and in the classroom. She has already been admitted to Ball State as a Presidential Scholar and clearly is ready to impact our program. Shelby is a very skilled forward with great length. She can face up or play with her back to the basket. Her ability to pass the ball will be tremendous to work with. Shelby is simply one of the best in the state and we are lucky to have her!"
Rounding out the Cardinals' six-player class is 6-2 guard/forward Haley Richardson from West Noble High School. She was selected all-conference and all-area as a junior while being a member of the News Sun Herald Republic All Star team. Richardson averaged 12.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and totaled 59 blocked shots last season. She played AAU with Spiece Gym Rats.
"Haley was a steal," said Sallee. She is a 6'2, long, athletic and versatile player and that should say it all. I believe she will be a player that becomes impossible to match up with. She can defend multiple positions and I think, in our system, she will be special. Haley is a young lady from our state that was highly sought after and I can't overstate the importance of signing in-state talent. Her best basketball is ahead of her and I can't wait to coach her and see her excel in a Ball State uniform."
Chris Menning who works for USJN (US Junior Nationals) & Blue Star Basketball and is a national evaluator on basketball players says, "Sallee's first class in Muncie looks to be setting up a solid foundation for what is to come, as he and his staff haul in the top 2013 recruiting class in the Mid-American Conference. This class provides a balance of having solid perimeter players alongside a very strong inside presence. You can quickly see the core of what he is building his program around and that the Cardinals should soon find their way back to the top of conference in the coming years."