Suzy Merchant Hits a "Homerun" As Six Sign National Letters of Intent with Michigan State Women’s Basketball

Jim Donatelli

Six Sign National Letters of Intent with Michigan State Women’s Basketball

Allen, Barnes, Gaines, Gondrezick Green and Vesela will join the program in the fall of 2015.

EAST LANSING, Michigan – Michigan State women’s basketball head coach Suzy Merchant announced the signing of six National Letters of Intent on Wednesday – Jenna Allen (East Bedford, Ind./Bedford North Lawrence), Octavia Barnes (Jackson, Miss./Raymond), Victoria Gaines (Merrillville, Ind./Merrillville), Kalabrya Gondrezick (Benton Harbor, Mich./Benton Harbor), Morgan Green (San Jose, Calif./Pacific Collegiate School/Chabot College) and Hana Vesela (Priobor, Czech Republic/Sportovni Gymnasium Dany a Emila Zatopkovych). The six players will join the Spartan program starting with the 2015-16 season. The class is ranked as high as No. 16 nationally by Blue Star Basketball.

“Victoria is a solid, face-up four-position player that has the ability to block shots, rebound and run the floor extremely well in our transition attack,” said Merchant. “She has played for very successful high school and AAU programs, which have prepared her well for the level of competition in the Big Ten.”

Gaines, a 6-1 forward from Merrillville, Ind., who plays for head coach Amy Govert at Merrillville High School. She is ranked the No. 23 player in the nation by both ESPN’s Hoopgurlz and Dan Olson’s Collegiate Girls Basketball Report, No. 56 by Blue Star Basketball and No. 59 by All-Star Girls Report. As junior, Gaines averaged15.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.3 blocks and 2.0 steals per game, earning first-team all-state honors. She has totaled over 1,000 points in her high school career, and have earned All-Duneland Athletic Conference (DAC) honors all three seasons. Through three seasons, Gaines has become a 1,000-point scorer. Last season, she was named first-team all-state. She has also played AAU for the Spiece Gym Rats and head coach Danny Riego. The daughter of David and Colleen Gaines, and sister of David Jr., she is also a three-time letterwinner in volleyball.

“We’re excited to have Morgan join the Spartan program next season,” said Merchant. “She will make an immediate impact with her speed and play-making ability, as well as being a tremendous scorer.”

Green, a 5-8 guard from San Jose, Calif., who is currently attending Chabot College in Hayward, Calif. She is ranked the No. 2 junior college player by Dan Olson’s College Girls Basketball Report. Green missed her senior season at Pacific Collegiate High School and head coach Daniel Kumasaka due to injury, but had a standout junior year. During her junior season, Green averaged 30.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 6.6 steals per game, while earning Mission Trail Athletic League MVP and county player of the year honors. ESPN’s Hoopgurlz ranked Green No. 60 nationally coming out of high school, while NorCalPreps named her the No. 5 prospect in the state of California. She played at Whitney High School as a sophomore, where she averaged 27.2 points, 9.4 steals, 7.1 rebounds and 6.8 assists. Green, who is the daughter of Lecia Powell, also ran track & field and cross country in high school

“We were excited about being able to sign Jenna,” said Merchant. “She’s a proven winner with multiple state championships at Bedford North Lawrence High School, and is a highly-skilled post player that will make an immediate impact with the graduation of Becca and Jasmine.”

Allen, a 6-3 forward from Bedford, Ind., is a three-year letterwinner for her father Jeff Allen at Bedford North Lawrence High School. She is ranked No. 74 in the nation by ESPN’s Hoopgurlz and Dan Olson’s Collegiate Girls Basketball Report, and also No. 76 by All-Star Girls Report. As a junior, Allen averaged 15.0 points and 8.7 rebounds, while shooting 65% from the field, while earning first-team all-state honors. Over the past two seasons, BNL has won back-to-back 4A State Championships, totaling a 55-1 record. Allen played AAU from 2011-14 for Indiana Elite-Bailey and coach Ron Patberg, and in 2014 for the Spiece Gym Rats and coach Danny Riego. The daughter of Jeff and Linda Allen, she has two brothers, Jared and John, and one sister, Jorie.

“Being the daughter of a coach, Kalabrya has a high basketball IQ,” said Merchant. “She grew up in a tremendous basketball family from her parents to her grandfather, who was a legendary girls’ basketball high school coach. She has the ability to score in multiple ways, and has tremendous court vision and presence.”

Gondrezick, a 5-8 guard from Benton Harbor, Mich., has been a three-year starter at Benton Harbor High School under her head coach and mother, Lisa Harvey-Gondrezick. Ranked the No. 36 recruit in the nation by Blue Star Basketball and No. 55 by All-Star Girls Report, she is a three-time first-team all-state selection. As a junior, Gondrezick averaged 16.8 points, 7.8 assists, 7.8 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game, leading her team to the district title. Currently also the No. 1 student in her class with over a 4.5 grade-point average, she also lettered in volleyball and cross country at Benton Harbor. Her dad, Grant, played five seasons in the NBA, while her mother was a member of Louisiana Tech’s 1988 NCAA Championship team. She has one sister, Kysre, and one brother, Grant Jr.

“The best part about Octavia is her athleticism and ability to play multiple positions,” said Merchant. “She plays with great energy and will be extremely important to us on the defensive end.”

Barnes, a 5-10 forward from Jackson, Miss, attends Raymond High School, playing for head coach Mike Coleman. She played her first three high school seasons at Hinds County Agricultural High School, averaging a double-double her last two seasons. The Delta Report has named her one of the top five recruits in the state of Mississippi, while The Clarion-Ledger tabbed her as one of the 2014 Dandy Dozen. As a junior, Barnes averaged 18.3 points and 11.7 rebounds, to go along with 3.0 assists and 3.3 blocks per game, earning her all-state recognition. She played AAU for MS Southern Phenoms for coach Roger Wilson. The daughter of Carolyn Barnes, she also lettered in track & field at Hinds. She has three sisters – Alisha, Nakita and Kiara.

“Hana brings a great deal of versatility in the post and has shown the ability to play multiple positions,” said Merchant. “She has a strong European skill set that will extend the defense as a face-up four, but can also score with her back to the basket as a true center.”

Vesela, a 6-4 center who is a native of Pribor, Czech Republic, attended Brimley High School in Brimley, Mich., as a foreign exchange student last year. She is spending her senior year back in the Czech Republic at Sportovni Gymnazium Dany a Emila Zatopkovych. As a junior, Vesala averaged 15.9 points, 10.3 rebounds, 4.4 blocks and 2.6 assists, while taking home first-team all-state honors by multiple media outlets, along with the Eastern Upper Peninsula Conference Player of the Year award. She has also played on the Czech Republic U-16 National Team. Aside from basketball, Vesala also lettered in volleyball and track & field at Brimley, accumulating all-state honors in three track & field events. Her parents Jan Vesely and Ivana Somolova, were both professional athletes in the Czech Republic, playing basketball and volleyball, respectively. Her brother, Jan Vesely, the No. 6 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, played three seasons in the NBA and is currently playing overseas.

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