UE News and Notes for April 24, 2013

—UE women’s coach Oties Epps took some heat for earning a verbal commitment recently from an Indianapolis area seventh grader. Seems he got a steal this early on. Epps, who can’t comment specifically on Best Choice Academy AAU player Katlyn Gilbert until she signs in roughly five years, tweeted this Tuesday: “SO proud of our ‘young’ Indy commit who just got accept to the USA Olympic Trails for U16!!” It’s important to remember Gilbert is committed to UE’s coaches more so than the Aces’ program, and this pledge should follow Epps if he’s coaching somewhere other than here when she graduates high school in 2018.

I wrote the latest on UE’s men’s basketball recruiting — Aces coaches have two scholarships they can fill during the spring signing period — in today’s paper. Coach Marty Simmons’ staff lets very little leak as far as who’s visited or offered, but a few players in the mix are Barton (Kansas) Community College’s Andell Cumberbatch, Oblong (Ill.) High School’s Anthony Johnson and Hopkinsville (Ky.) High School’s Jordan Majors.

—Epps also announced Tuesday that Inkster (Mich.) High School guard Paris McLeod has officially signed with the Aces’ women’s program. McLeod attempted to send her paperwork last week when the signing period began, but it took a few extra days to process. Here’s my original story on McLeod and Epps’ comments on his newest signee.

—Heading into this weekend’s women’s tennis Missouri Valley Conference championships, I profiled the efforts of sophomore Natasha James for today’s paper. James plays No. 1 singles and doubles for the Aces, using an unconventional serve and volley style rather than playing with ground strokes at the baseline like her counterparts.

UE’s baseball program announced a hometown signee on Tuesday: right-handed pitcher Brandon Kelley, who’s homeschooled but impressed Aces coaches nonetheless. Kelley, who played recently with the Indiana Prospects and returns to Newburgh Legion this summer, will enter as a freshman in the fall. “I’ve watched his development over the last three years and believe he will make an immediate impact on our pitching staff,” coach Wes Carroll said.

—UE’s women’s golf team slipped from seventh entering the final day of competition at the MVC championships to a ninth-place finish. Freshman Paige Crafton ended up 24th to lead the Aces individually with a three-day score of 253. Illinois State took both the individual and team titles.

—Southern Illinois’ softball team prevented a UE sweep Tuesday by taking game three of a series that started Sunday by a 4-3 score in Carbondale, Ill. The Salukis never trailed following a grand slam in the first inning.

UE’s baseball team plays a doubleheader today at Austin Peay, one game regularly scheduled and the other a makeup from last week’s canceled contest after threats were made toward Aces sporting events via Twitter. First pitch for the seven-inning twin bill is set for 4 p.m. in Clarksville, Tenn.

—Following news that college basketball’s rules committee will consider shortening the shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds, the Sports News’ Mike DeCourcy examined the subject more and with a key point: Just one member is from a so-called power conference, where coaches with more talented players may favor a shorter clock.

—Regardless of Creighton junior Doug McDermott’s decision to stay with the Bluejays or forgo his senior year to play professionally, McDermott won’t do any damage to the Aces now that Creighton is off to the new Big East Conference. But you probably want to know anyway that, at least as of Tuesday, McDermott is still wrestling with the choice.

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