Hamilton Heights (Ind.) High School guard Dakota Weatherford and Inkster (Mich.) High School guard Paris McLeod signed binding letters of intent with UE this week and will enter the program as freshmen this fall.
Coach Oties Epps announced Weatherford’s signing today and will do the same for McLeod when all paperwork is processed. The frontcourt duo officially rounds out the Aces’ 2013 recruiting class along with Brown County forward Sasha Robinson, Pendleton Heights forward Kenzie Gustin, Riverton Parke guard Sara Dickey and Holmen (Wis.) forward Caitlyn Russell.
More about both guards:
—After leading Hamilton Heights to the state finals this past season, Weatherford will play with the Indiana All-Stars this summer. She’s a 5-foot-5 speedster who likes to score in transition.
“We are extremely excited to welcome Dakota and her family to our program,” coach Oties Epps state Thursday. “Dakota has had a very accomplished senior year and we expect her to be a combo guard for us. She is an amazing on-ball defender and her quickness and tenacity to compete will be a great asset to our program. She is perhaps the fastest player I’ve seen with the ball in their hands. We expect Dakota to have an immediate impact on our program.”
Weatherford averaged 19.5 points, 7.4 steals, 7.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game as Hamilton Heights made its first ever IHSAA State Championship finals appearance in boys or girls basketball.
She only visited campus twice, as coaches mostly came to see Weatherford watch games before committing.
“I feel like I’ve known them forever,” she said of UE’s coaching staff. “I feel like I’m officially welcomed into the family. I’m an Ace now, and I couldn’t be more excited.”
Weatherford’s 198 steals were No. 1 among all girls’ players in Indiana last season. She also shot 47 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 77 percent from the free throw line.
“I used to score mostly on offensive breaks from defense — turning transitions into offense,” Weatherford said. “But I’ve definitely improved on my jump shot to help in half-court offense, and my free-throw percentages have gone up as well.
—McLeod’s Inkster team went 19-0 during the regular season before losing to Michigan’s third-ranked team in the tournament. Eleven Inkster players went on to play Division I ball in the two graduating classes ahead of her.
“I think the one thing Paris learned from those teams was how to practice,” said Inkster coach Dwayne Scott. “I think that’s very important, and it’s what she tried to carry over to the kids we have now.”
McLeod averaged 19.5 points, 6.8 assists and 5.1 steals per game as a senior while earning Detroit News Dream Team, first team all-metro, Detroit Free Press All-State Second Team and first-team all-area recognition.
Delaware State, Canisius, South Carolina State and Winthrop also recruited McLeod, Scott said. In all, McLeod played on high school teams that won three district championships, three regional championships and a state title.
The undefeated regular season this past year marked Inkster’s first for either the boys’ or girls’ programs.
“I got a call from (Epps) one day,” Scott said. “He said he was looking for a kid who could change their program. I told him I had a kid who could get it done on both ends of the court with a lot of energy – a kid that would not mind being pushed – and was used to winning. And he thought that was huge.”