Billikens Sign Two to National Letter of Intent
One guard, one forward make up 2012 recruiting class
ST. LOUIS – Saint Louis head women’s basketball coach Shimmy Gray-Miller has announced that two high school student-athletes have signed a National Letter of Intent to attend the University and play for the Billikens beginning next season.
The 2012 SLU recruiting class is comprised of 5-foot-7 guard Rachel Mendelsohn (Portland, Ore./Jesuit) and 6-foot-2 forward Denisha Womack (Peoria, Ill./Central).
“Rachel and Denisha are the total package,” Gray-Miller said. “They have talent, skills, academic prowess, work ethic and, most important, character. Both are passionate about becoming a Billiken, and they see an opportunity to be part of something special here. I am honored that they have chosen Saint Louis University.
“Thank you to my committed assistant coaches for their hard work in signing this class,” Gray-Miller said. “Their effort, along with the effort of the 13 best recruiters a head coach could ask for in my current team, resulted in us signing Rachel and Denisha. We are thrilled with this class.”
Mendelsohn helped Jesuit High School capture state and conference championships in 2011. She averaged 8.6 points and 2.0 rebounds while shooting 48 percent from the field. Mendelsohn was named to the All-Metro League first team and the All-State Tournament first team.
“Rachel is passionate, intense, focused, intrinsically motivated, driven, skilled and competitive,” Gray-Miller said. “She is used to winning. She led her high school team to a state championship last year, and she was a key player in a nationally ranked AAU program. Rachel has competed with and against the best and has risen to every challenge she has faced. She is a savvy offensive player who will have to improve on the defensive end to make an immediate impact, but she has the tools and the work ethic to make it happen.
“We got away with one in the recruiting and signing of Rachel,” Gray-Miller said. “It was by chance that we saw her at a tournament in July, and we followed up hoping that her Jesuit background would entice her to be interested in leaving the state of Oregon. The gamble paid off, and now she is a Billiken.”
“Rachel is, in my opinion, the top senior shooting guard in Oregon and one of the best combo guards in our region,” said Michael Abraham, founder and head coach of Mendelsohn’s AAU squad, Team Concept. “Saint Louis is getting a gem – a great student, great teammate and great personality in addition to being a great player.
“The fact that SLU was able to sign a player of Rachel’s caliber is a tribute to the hard work of the coaching staff,” Abraham said. “They were able to see what other programs overlooked or missed. I expect Rachel to make an immediate and long-term impact on the program. She has worked hard to get to where she is today, and I am proud to have had the chance to coach her.”
Womack missed her junior season following knee surgery but, after returning in late May, earned an all-star designation at the U.S. Junior Nationals Summer Finale. She averaged 14 points and six rebounds for Peoria Central as a sophomore.
“Denisha has the size, athleticism and toughness we covet in post players,” Gray-Miller said. “She has been coached well and is fundamentally sound, and she has a competitive fire that you cannot teach a player. Denisha is a two-way player, which means she should be able to make an impact at our level on both ends of the floor. Off the court, she is a charismatic and articulate young lady who will represent our program with great enthusiasm and personality. She has incredible potential and a bright future at Saint Louis University.
“We stood by Denisha after she missed her junior year with a knee injury, and she stood by us as we endured a difficult 2010-11 season,” Gray-Miller said. “Our commitment to her and vice versa never wavered, and I am happy that the commitment has finally come to fruition.”
“Denisha is a person who works hard, especially at critical times,” Peoria Central head coach Meechie Edwards said. “She is able to maintain a phenomenal grade point average while still competing at high levels in sports, and she has excellent leadership skills. Even though Denisha was hurt within the last year, she has been able to maintain her work ethic mentally, as well as her willingness to return to the game of basketball.”