Nov. 14, 2007
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Notre Dame head women's basketball coach Muffet McGraw announced Wednesday that three of the country's top high school student-athletes have chosen to continue their academic and athletic careers with the Irish, each signing a National Letter of Intent to attend Notre Dame beginning in the fall of 2008. Natalie Novosel (last name pronounced KNOW-vuh-sell), a 5-11 guard from Lexington, Ky. (Lexington Catholic High School), Erica Solomon, a 6-2 power forward from Oak Park, Mich. (Detroit Country Day School) and Kellie Watson, a 6-2 small forward from Ionia, Mich. (Ionia High School) all made their official commitments to the Irish during the early signing period, which began Wednesday and continues through Nov. 21.
All three student-athletes are rated among the top 35 players in the country by various national recruiting services. Although class rankings have yet to be released by most of these outlets, Notre Dame is poised to field a Top 25 recruiting class for the 12th consecutive year, a streak only two other schools in the country (Connecticut and Tennessee) can match.
"I'm very pleased with the group of players we'll be bringing in next season," McGraw said. "Each of these players has some special qualities that are going to mesh very well with our veterans. All three of them are tremendous offensive threats at their respective schools, but they also have the athleticism and skill to be important contributors on defense as well. They're hard-working individuals and should fill some key roles for us in the years ahead. We're looking forward to having Natalie, Erica and Kellie join us on campus next year."
Ranked 23rd in the latest Associated Press poll and 25th in the current ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll, Notre Dame (2-0) has opened its 2007-08 season with emphatic wins at home over Miami-Ohio (98-50) and Western Kentucky (78-59) in the Preseason Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). The Irish will return to the hardwood Friday at 7 p.m. (ET) when they take on No. 3 Maryland in the Preseason WNIT semifinals at the Comcast Center in College Park, Md.
A capsule look at the three newest additions to the Notre Dame women's basketball program follows:
NATALIE NOVOSEL (KNOW-vuh-sell), 5-11, Guard (Lexington, Ky./Lexington Catholic High School)
Statistics/Records: 17.9 ppg., 8.5 rpg., 4.4 apg., 3.8 spg., .583 FG% (13th in state), .787 FT% (20th in state) last season at Lexington Catholic High School in Lexington, Ky. ... began playing on LCHS varsity as an eighth-grader ... has led team to three consecutive appearances in Kentucky state high school tournament, winning state titles in 2005 and 2006 ... team posted 36-1 record in 2004-05 and was ranked as high as sixth in USA Today Super 25 poll; team went 35-1 in 2005-06 and peaked at third in USA Today Super 25 poll ... team compiled 30-4 record last season before being upset by eventual state champion Lexington Christian in regional title game ... posted career single-game highs of 31 points, 15 rebounds, 11 steals and nine assists during her prep tenure ... averaged 12.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game as a sophomore ... played for high-powered Tennessee Flight Silver AAU squad that won a pair of titles this past summer -- prestigious End of the Trail tournament in Oregon City, Ore., (Novosel canned two free throws with six seconds left to seal semifinal win), and Midwest Showdown in Mason, Ohio ... AAU squad also tied for third at Boo Williams Invitational.
Awards/Honors: Ranked 32nd in nation by All-Star Girls Report ... ranked 43rd in nation/four-star player (13th among guards) by Hoopgurlz.com ... ranked 47th in nation by Blue Star Basketball ... ranked 71st in nation (11th among off-guards) by Dan Olson Collegiate Girls Basketball Report ... two-time Street & Smith's preseason honorable mention All-American ... two-time all-state selection (preseason choice entering senior year) ... three-time all-city pick (preseason choice entering senior year) ... MVP of 2006 Fifth Third Bank Kentucky Holiday Classic ... preseason candidate for 2008 Kentucky Miss Basketball.
Personal Data: Born Nov. 22, 1989 in Lexington, Ky. ... one of three children -- older sister, Shannon, is junior on Evansville women's basketball team, while twin brother, Nathan also attends Lexington Catholic ... parents are Jaine and Nick Novosel ... first Notre Dame women's basketball player to come from state of Kentucky ... attends same high school as former Irish men's basketball standout David Graves (1999-2002).
McGraw on Novosel...
"Natalie has a scorer's mentality and with a fiesty, aggressive presence that we really like. She's also poised in pressure situations, shows good court awareness and her fundamentals are really solid. She's got a chance to make some early contributions for us next season."
Hoopgurlz.com on Novosel...
"Novosel has an explosive first step and great strength for the guard position which allows her to penetrate and create for her teammates as well as get to the cup or show off her nice pull-up jumper."
Dan Olson Collegiate Girls Basketball Report on Novosel...
"Fundamental off-guard, passes, court savvy, dangerous and streaky threat from the mid-range to the arc, solid overall skills."
All-Star Girls Report on Novosel...
"Pretty athletic big guard, fundamental, shoots 3 or puts on floor, good passer, rebounds, gets to the rim."
ERICA SOLOMON, 6-2, Power Forward (Oak Park, Mich./Detroit Country Day School)
Statistics/Records: 15.0 ppg., 12.0 rpg., 5.0 bpg. as a sophomore at Detroit Country Day School in Beverly Hills, Mich. ... limited much of last season while recovering from knee injury (torn ACL in February 2006).
Awards/Honors: Not often seen by recruiting services because Michigan had fall basketball season prior to 2007-08 ... ranked 18th in nation (fifth among power forwards) by Dan Olson Collegiate Girls Basketball Report ... ranked 52nd in nation by Blue Star Basketball ... ranked 68th in nation by All-Star Girls Report ... ranked 70th in nation/four-star player (seventh among posts) by Hoopgurlz.com ... two-time Street & Smith's preseason honorable mention All-America selection ... three-time all-state selection (first team in 2006) ... three-time all-county selection ... adidas Top Ten Camp Upperclass All-Star (2007) ... helped team to Class B state title as a freshman in 2004-05 ... team has been ranked nationally in USA Today Super 25 poll each of her three seasons to date ... preseason candidate for 2008 Michigan Miss Basketball ... also competed in high jump during prep career, setting school record (5-6).
Personal Data: Born Nov. 10, 1989 in Charleston, W.Va. ... youngest of three children ... sister, Stephanie, played basketball at Saint Louis ... brother, Christopher, played football at Northwood (Mich.) ... daughter of Debbie Solomon ... comes from same high school as NBA standouts Chris Webber and Shane Battier ... attended Saint Martin de Porres High School with current Irish junior wide receiver David Grimes during her freshman year before school closed and Solomon transferred to Detroit Country Day ... pairs with fellow signee Kellie Watson to give Notre Dame 16 women's basketball players from the state of Michigan in program history (second only to Indiana's 18 players) ... Solomon and Watson are first Michigan natives to join Irish since Ann Arbor resident (and Huron High School graduate) Julie Henderson suited up from 1996-2000.
McGraw on Solomon...
"Erica gives us another gifted athletic post presence, which is something we will need with the graduation of Melissa D'Amico. She's got a strong fundamental base and good versatility. She can stretch defenses with her offensive skill package, whether it's posting up, taking defenders off the dribble or hitting from outside. She's also a very good rebounder and defender, which are two qualities that you can never have enough of. "
Dan Olson Collegiate Girls Basketball Report on Solomon...
"Long-framed and athletic perimeter threat, range beyond the arc, explosive offensive talent, superb footwork combined with size and agility provide consistent offensive game to the arc."
All-Star Girls Report on Solomon...
"Very athletic, strong good body, can play inside/outside, can play in any league."
KELLIE WATSON, 6-2, Small Forward (Ionia, Mich./Ionia High School)
Statistics/Records: 16.3 ppg., 7.7 rpg., during three-year prep career at Ionia High School in Ionia, Mich. ... averaged 24 points and eight rebounds per game last season despite playing at less than 100 percent due to shoulder problems (since healed completely) ... owns school record for career points (1,160 entering senior season) and points in a single game (41) ... led state of Michigan in three-point percentage as a freshman (.452) ... standout softball player who holds single-season school records for doubles (86) and triples (27) while leading IHS to softball and basketball regional titles (one of only four players at school to play on both teams, the only regional titleists in school history).
Awards/Honors: Not often seen by recruiting services because Michigan had fall basketball season prior to 2007-08... ranked 35th in nation (sixth among small forwards) by Dan Olson Collegiate Girls Basketball Report ... 2006 Lansing State Journal Player of the Year ... 2006 Lansing State Journal Dream Team ... three-time all-state selection ... three-time all-city choice ... three-time all-conference honoree ... preseason candidate for 2008 Michigan Miss Basketball ... also lauded for her play on the softball diamond, as two-time all-state, three-time all-city and three-time all-conference pick.
Personal Data: Born May 1, 1990 in Jackson, Mich. ... older of two children ... parents are Pam and Keith Watson ... pairs with fellow signee Erica Solomon to give Notre Dame 16 women's basketball players from the state of Michigan in program history (second only to Indiana's 18 players) ... Watson and Solomon are first Michigan natives to join Irish since Ann Arbor resident (and Huron High School graduate) Julie Henderson suited up from 1996-2000.
McGraw on Watson...
"Kellie is not your typical forward in that she has the size of a low-post player, but the skills of a perimeter player. She creates a lot of matchup issues for other teams, much like our current junior Lindsay Schrader. Kellie is a very heady player and works extremely hard on her game. Her ability to play multiple positions fits very well with our system and will really add to our team next season."
Dan Olson Collegiate Girls Basketball Report on Watson...
"Long frame, fundamental skills, finesse low-block scorer, breaks down defender on perimeter with consistent faceup game to 17 feet, transition finisher, provides mismatch problem."
All-Star Girls Report on Watson...
"Pretty athletic, good skills, inside/outside game, nice shot, nice free throw shooter, shoots the three."