Cowles signs four in ‘very good recruiting class’

Cole Claybourn

Head Coach Mary Taylor Cowles didn’t get any surprises during the NCAA’s Early Signing Period. All four of her reporterd commitments signed their National Letters on Intent, forming what Cowles called Thursday a “very good recruiting class.”

This year’s class consists of two Kentucky recruits — Franklin-Simpson’s Chastity Gooch and Pulaski Southwestern’s Danay Fothergill  as well as two Texas recruits Summer Fife from Fort Worth and Alexis Govan from San Antonio.

Cowles said the main thing she was looking for in this year’s recruiting class was versatility. With three guards and a player that can play the forward or guard positions, Cowles said she feels like that was accomplished.

Chastity Gooch, Franklin-Simpson High School — 6-0 Guard

Franklin-Simpson coach Lex Lindsey said Gooch was WKU’s “No. 1 priority” for the 2011 recruiting class. The 6-foot Gooch is listed as a forward, but Cowles said she can also play both guard positions if needed.

Gooch said being close to home played a big role in her decision to play at WKU.

“It just felt like home,” she said. “I loved the people – the environment. They treated me well.”

Cowles said landing Gooch was key from a fan standpoint because it allows them to identify with a local player.

“I feel like part of me has watched her grow up,” Cowles said. “I just think she’s going to be a tremendous college basketball player. She’s one of those than can have an immediate impact as soon as she gets here.”

Danay Fothergill, Pulaski Southwestern High School — 5-7 Guard

Fothergill has averaged double figures in all three of her high school seasons so far, including 27 points as a junior. She received offers from nearly 15 Division I schools. Among those were Miami (Ohio), Stetson, North Carolina-Wilmington, North Carolina-Greensboro, James Madison and Liberty.

Cowles said Fothergill is a very good shooting guard, which was something she was searching for after the departure of Kenzie Rich and the impending graduation of guards Amy McNear and Hope Brown.

“We’re really looking forward to her adding that dimension on the perimeter for us,” Cowles said.

Summer Fife, Liberty Christian High School (Texas) — 5-11 Guard

Fife committed to WKU on Oct. 21 after Cowles took a recruiting visit to the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Texas has become a recruiting hot spot in recent years for Cowles. Fife said it will be fun for her to play with other Texas players on the roster — fellow recruit Alexis Govan, and juniors Jasmine Johnson, Vanessa Obafemi, and Teranie Thomas.

“The coaches and players were so welcoming,” Fife said. “I wasn’t expecting that at all. And it’s a little more of a Christian atmosphere, which I was looking for.”

Cowles said WKU didn’t get started on recruiting Fife until later but said she feels like she got a steal by signing Fife.

“Summer is one of those that’s going to do whatever it takes to help us win,” Cowles said.

“She’s very blue-collar, hard-working. She understands the game of basketball and wants to take that next step to the next level. She’s a true fit with the other three.”

Fife averaged 15.5 points and 3.7 rebounds in her junior season.

Alexis Govan, Stevens High School (Texas) — 5-8 Guard

Govan was the last of the four to sign. She averaged 16.9 points and 9.5 rebounds as a junior.

“This is a big relief,” Govan said about signing. “Now I don’t have to worry about much during my senior year. I can just go out and play and lead my team.”

Govan said she liked that WKU felt more like a family than the other schools who were recruiting her, and the recruitment process didn’t feel like a “business” to her like it did with other schools.

Cowles said she sees Govan as a two or a three, but knows she can also play point guard as well.

“She’s a tremendous athlete that we think can go to a few different positions,” she said. “She’s going to add a lot as well, especially with her versatility. She’ll be able to be on the floor a lot for us.

“Alexis is an extremely tough defender. She just really knows how to defend one-on-one, and that’s extremely valuable.”

Cowles:’Recruiting never stops’

The Lady Toppers still have room to sign two more players, and Cowles left the door open for that possibility.

“We’re going to continue to work hard and continue to line up what’s best for us,” she said. “There’s the opportunity there for 15 young ladies. That’s why I think you just have to continue to search for the best ladies for what you need and fit your program.”