Mavericks recruit to be deeper women’s basketball team
A year ago, Roger Walters recruited for immediate help.
The Mesa State College women’s basketball coach is now recruiting for depth and to build his program.
Four players have signed with the Mavericks for this season, the first as Colorado Mesa University, with Walters expecting to add two more before the school officially changes its name next month.
“We needed to be deeper,” he said. “We played some kids too many minutes last year.”
The majority of the team stayed in Grand Junction this summer, working basketball camps, lifting weights and playing pickup games.
With four starters back and Effanesia Baker, a slick 5-5 junior transfer from Rogers State (Okla.) University, slated to start at point guard, Walters has high expectations for this season.
Fruita Monument High School graduate Taylor Johnson is a 5-10 forward who can more than hold her own inside and step out and shoot from the perimeter.
“She’s just so athletic and is a really gifted player,” Walters said. “I think she can turn into something special in the post for us and give us some options there. She’s a tough matchup for other (forwards) in the conference.”
Johnson, a three-time all-Southwestern League player, averaged 13.6 points and 6 rebounds for the Wildcats last season.
Erika Musante is a 6-2 shot-blocker from Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins who led her team in rebounding and blocked shots last season.
“She had a great year defensively and rebounding the ball and is another really good athlete,” Walters said.
“She placed (sixth) in the high jump at state; she’s very athletic,” Walters said. “That will give us a different look. She’s really long and can clog things up in the paint on the defensive end.”
A third Colorado prep product, Dallas Rohrbaugh, led Erie High School to a 19-5 record, scoring 14.1 points per game in an honorable mention all-state season. She hit 23 3-pointers with 43 steals and 70 assists.
“She’s the ultimate point guard,” Walters said. “She’s a coach on the floor, had an unbelievably good year this year at Erie. She’s very savvy and understands the game really well.”
Adding some punch to the perimeter game is Laurel Kasel, a 5-10 shooting guard from Park City, Utah. Kasel was fourth in the state in scoring, averaging 20.3 points a game and led the state in 3-pointers made.
“She’s 5-10 but was in the top four in the state in blocked shots,” Walters said. “She jumps really well. She shoots it really well and has a knack for scoring. She had a good workout when she came in and she came up this summer and worked camps for us. She has a really high ceiling.”
Walters expects all four incoming freshmen to compete for playing time, but then again, he expects that from all of his players.
“You never know how they’re going to react when they come in, are they going to be ready, are they not going to be ready?” he said. “Because of our numbers, it doesn’t put as much pressure on them to play right away.
“It’s such a good group of kids. They got to taste a little bit of success, but at the same time we’re not anywhere near where we want to be. They see what it takes to get there.”