April 17, 2013 1:44:24 AM
The Mississippi State University women's basketball team's recruiting class for the 2013-14 season keeps getting bigger.
Trinity Valley (Texas) Community College coach Elena Lovato confirmed that Savannah Carter, a 5-foot-9 guard, has given a verbal commitment to play for coach Vic Schaefer and the Bulldogs next season.
"She had verbally committed on her visit (to MSU last week), but we hadn't discussed that with anybody until today," Lovato said Tuesday. "I always tell my players to take 24 hours to digest what happened. I met with her yesterday and we decided that Mississippi State was the best situation for her."
Lovato said she then made phone calls Tuesday to inform other coaches that were recruiting the sophomore from Tulsa, Okla., that she no longer was available.
Carter, who spent one season at Grambling State University before transferring to TVCC, averaged 11.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 3.2 steals per game and played an integral role in TVCC's second consecutive Division I national championship, the program's seventh overall. Carter had nine points and five rebounds in an 83-71 victory against Central Arizona College last month in the national title game.
Carter is the No. 27 junior college prospect according to Dan Olson's Collegiate Girls Report, a national recruiting service/website.
"She is a super athletic guard," said Olson, a former college basketball coach. "She is really explosive off the dribble. She is not a 3-point threat as much as she is a threat off the dribble. She is among the upper echelon kids in all of junior college."
The addition of Carter gives MSU seven players to add to the program for next season. Carter will join Breanna Richardson, Dominique Dillingham, Ketara Chapel, Kiki Patterson, Chinwe Okorie, and Jazmine Spears. Prior to Carter's commitment, Olson had MSU's class rated as the 45th-best group in the nation, and ninth best in the Southeastern Conference.
Olson rates Richardson (No. 77), Chapel (No. 166), and Spears (No. 177) as top-200 players.
"She is off the charts athletic," Olson said. "She is not the scorer (former MSU All-American) Tan White is. Her game is not refined offensively as Tan White, but she is like Tan White in terms of athleticism."
Olson rated Carter the No. 301 prospect coming out of Tulsa Memorial (Okla.) High School as a senior. Lovato said Carter and her mother wanted to sign with a Historically Black College and opted for Grambling State University. Carter averaged 7.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.3 assists in 30 games (29 starts) as a freshman in 2011-12.
This past season, Lovato said Carter played both guard and forward positions and was a great leader on and off the court. She feels Carter is an ideal fit for Schaefer's defensive brand of basketball.
"I think she is a hard-nosed, defensive-minded kid who knows what (Schaefer) loves and preaches," Lovato said. "It is going to be a perfect fit."
Lovato said Carter visited MSU on Friday and Saturday and returned to Texas on Sunday. She said Carter is a super competitive player who is really good in transition and is an amazing rebounder. She said Carter has a strong build and an aggressive, or blue-collar, nature that made her invaluable.
"She prides herself on her defensive work," Lovato said. "I think she is going to be a great leader at Mississippi State. She is going to learn everything coach Schaefer throws at her. She is a sponge. She wants to be a coach, so she approaches every day as an opportunity to learn the game and to learn something new about basketball because she does want to apply it to her game, and she is already working on building her philosophy as a coach."
Carter, a McDonald's All-America nominee out of high school, considered schools like the University of Tennessee, Michigan State University, UCLA, Oklahoma State University, and others before picking Grambling State. Lovato said Carter wanted to play at the highest level after her sophomore season and had a goal to play at a school in a Bowl Championship Subdivision conference.
Lovato said tentative plans are for Carter to sign a National Letter of Intent at 6 p.m. Sunday. The first day of the spring signing period is today. Coaches can't comment on signees until they receive the signed NLI.
n In related news, Spears is expected to sign her NLI today at New Albany High School.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.