Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He is the host of Recruiting Thursday, a weekly radio show that airs from 7 to 8 p.m. on 92.1 FM in Fayetteville; 93.7 FM in Little Rock; 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home; and 106.9 FM in Arkadelphia.
The Recruiting Guy:
UA women make presence felt in recruiting
ESPN 4-star prospect Ysabella Fontleroy.
University of Arkansas women’s basketball Coach Mike Neighbors has some help in recruiting one of the nation’s top 2022 prospects thanks to two current Razorbacks and a future one.
ESPN 4-star guard Ysabella Fontleroy is friends with Arkansas freshman forward Maryam Dauda and freshman guard Jersey Wolfenbarger along with 2022 guard commitment Karley Johnson.
All three are in Fontleroy’s ear about becoming a Razorback. She and Dauda were teammates for four years while playing for the Missouri Phenom spring and summer program.
Fontleroy was also teammates with Wolfenbarger while playing for Missouri Phenom and for Willpower, a youth team coached by Fontleroy’s father Will.
“I think I get a text from Maryam and Jersey once or twice a week,” Fontleroy said of them urging her to join them.
Johnson, of Mustang High School in Oklahoma, was teammates with Fontleroy this spring and summer while playing for the Arkansas Banshees.
“Oh my gosh, she’s literally a better recruiter than they [Arkansas coaches] are,” Fontleroy said. “Every day I get a text … ‘You know we could be doing this together in a couple of years if you just go ahead and commit.’ I said, ‘Karley, we haven’t even been on visits yet.’ She’s a good recruiter.”
Fontleroy, 6-1, of Springfield (Mo.) Kickapoo has about 30 scholarship offers from schools such as Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Virginia, Louisville, Kansas and others.
While Dauda, Wolfenbarger and Johnson are pursuing Fontleroy, Neighbors and his staff are doing more than their fair share of recruiting.
Neighbors attended every game of Fontleroy and the Banshees during events in Hoover, Ala., and Atlanta in late July.
“I really do not think he missed [a game],” she said.
Fontleroy came away impressed with Neighbors’ chic shoe collection that was on display while he attended her games.
“It was super nice to see him over there,” Fontleroy said. “He doesn’t need to do all the extras to get anyone’s attention. He was just sitting over there with a fresh pair of shoes every game. A different pair every day.”
During the July 6-12 evaluation period, a member of the Arkansas staff was at all her games while Neighbors made his fair share of appearances.
“There were very few he missed,” she said.
Neighbors’ program has made steady progress in his first four years in Fayetteville, including this past season when the Razorbacks went 19-9 with victories over No. 4 Baylor and No. 3 Connecticut.
“Coach Neighbors started recruiting me in the seventh or eighth grade,” Fontleroy said. “Over these past years, the turnaround he’s had with the program has been tremendous and the growth they’ve had and shown has been really awesome to follow and watch.”
Despite losing All-American Chelsea Dungee and graduate transfer Destiny Slocum to the WNBA Draft, Fontleroy doesn’t see a drop off with Dauda, Wolfenbarger, Oregon State transfer Sasha Goforth and redshirt freshman Elauna Eaton on the roster.
“They’re all just gonna step up and be great when they get on the court this season. so I’m excited to watch,” she said.
Fontleroy is planning to take all five of her official visits, with one being to Fayetteville, when the Hogs play Texas in football at Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Sept. 11.
“I don’t know about the other dates, but I can tell you I’m coming to Arkansas Sept. 11,” she said.
She’s narrowed her long list of schools to a few.
“At this point, I’ll say it’s five or six, six being generous,” Fontleroy said.
Fontleroy has an idea when she will make her college decision.
“I want to make my decision before we get too far into school season, but I don’t have a definite set time yet,” Fontleroy said.
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