BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Head Coach Michelle Clark-Heard announced Nichel Tampa, Terri Smith and Sherry Porter as the three members of WKU’s 2016-17 early signing class on Thursday morning, with the three becoming the first members of the Class of 2021 for the Lady Toppers.
“I’m thrilled to add these three young ladies to our Lady Topper family,” Clark-Heard said of the signee trio. “Our fans will like each of them. They will compete with the guards we already have and make our team better as soon as they arrive on campus.”
All three players are dynamic guards who are capable of both scoring and directing the offense as floor generals. Clark-Heard has praised the trio’s versatility and ability to play multiple spots on the floor as well as their competitive nature coming from winning high school programs.
Tampa, Smith and Porter will join the program as senior guards Kendall Noble, Micah Jones and Ima Akpan all depart after graduation in May. The trio will join Naomi Mayes, Sidnee Bopp, Malaka Frank, Whitney Creech, Jaycee Coe and Kayla Smith at the guard position for the Lady Toppers. Guards have played a critical role in WKU’s resurgence on the national stage, culminating in Noble’s selection as the 2015-16 C-USA Player and Defensive Player of the Year after recording WKU’s first two triple-doubles in program history last season.
2016-17 WKU EARLY PERIOD SIGNEES
Nichel Tampa, 5-6, Alpharetta, Ga. (St. Francis HS)
Terri Smith, 5-8, Harvest, Ala. (Sparkman HS)
Sherry Porter, 5-7, Baton Rouge, La. (Madison Prep Academy)
Tampa heads north to join the Lady Toppers following a prep career at St. Francis High School in Alpharetta, Ga.
One of the top-ranked point guards in her class, Tampa has led St. Francis to consecutive Class A private school state championships as a sophomore and junior in 2015 and 2016. Overall, she led her team to an impressive 84-9 record since the 2013-14 season. In her junior season, Tampa averaged nine points and 4.8 assists per game playing for the Knights under Head Coach Aisha Kennedy.
For her career, the rising senior has posted strong numbers across the board, averaging 9.5 points, 3.9 assists, 3.3 steals, and 3.2 rebounds across 85 games for the Knights. Tampa has received All-State, All-Region and All-Metro honors during her high school career and was the NBA Dribble, Dish and Swish national champion in 2011.
At the AAU level, Tampa is a member of the Finest Basketball Club Southeast Elite team under Head Coach Alfred Motton. Tampa received interest from South Carolina, Notre Dame, Louisville and more than 40 other Division I programs as early as her middle school playing career. She chose WKU over scholarship offers from Memphis, George Mason, South Carolina and South Florida.
Clark-Heard on Tampa…
“Nichel is going to be a great addition to our roster. She’s a high energy, point guard who can really speed up the game. She sees the floor. She can score. Plus, she can guard the socks off of the other team’s ballhandler. Playing for St. Francis in the Atlanta area, Nichel knows how to win and expects to win. That’s what I love about her game.”
Smith will join WKU after committing to the program during her junior season at Sparkman High School in Harvest, Ala.
A highly decorated guard under Head Coach Patrick Delay, Smith earned an honorable mention nod as a sophomore on the All Tennessee Valley girls’ basketball team before receiving Third Team All-Huntsville Region honors as a junior last season, averaging 12.5 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.
Smith led the Senators to a 21-7 record in 2015-16 and earned a spot on the North team in the 2016 AHSAA North-South All-Star Game for her performance.
In addition to the previously mentioned honors, Smith has served as a team captain for the Senators and is set to be a leader on the court for Sparkman in her final high school season. She will seek to add to her haul of awards that also includes All-County and All-Tournament team selections during her career.
She joins Heather Mayes (1996) as one of only two players in program history from the state of Alabama. On the AAU circuit, Smith has competed for the Southern Starz under Head Coach Doug Bush. Smith received scholarship offers from Little Rock, Hampton, and North Florida prior to committing to WKU.
Clark-Heard on Smith…
“We are so excited for Terri to become a Lady Topper. We’ve been watching Terri for several years. She’s been to our camps and several of our games. Our fans are going to enjoy Terri. She’s quick and a very serious competitor. She might not be the biggest player on the floor, but she’s tough and she can shoot from the parking lot. We’ll look for Terri to come in and give us depth at the point guard spot right away.”
Porter is set to join the Lady Toppers after a stellar high school career at Madison Prep Academy in Baton Rouge, La.
She is coming off a strong junior season averaging 19 points and six assists for Coach Dwayne Hayes. Porter helped the Chargers to a runner-up finish in the 2016 Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Class 2A State Tournament, including an upset of No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas in the semifinals.
For her efforts as a junior, Porter was named to the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Class 2A All-State Team in 2016 after leading Madison Prep to a 31-5 overall record.
Over the last two seasons with the Chargers, Porter has helped the team to a combined 53-14 record and back-to-back regional appearances in the LHSAA State Tournament, the first coming at the 1A level before Madison Prep made the leap to 2A last season. Porter captured Second Team 1A All-State honors as a sophomore following a season that saw her average 21 points, 3.5 steals and three rebounds.
Porter has also competed at the AAU level with the Louisiana Lady Legends under Head Coach Calvin Ursin. She was recruited my Louisiana-Lafayette, Southern Miss, and Troy and will be just the second player in program history from the state of Louisiana.
Clark-Heard on Porter…
“Sherry is another athletic combo guard that will help us to try to fill the shoes of Kendall Noble and Micah Jones. Those are some big shoes, but fortunately Sherry isn’t afraid of hard work or high expectations. She’s able to play multiple guard spots on the floor, which fits well with what we do on both offense and defense as a team.”
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