The Fort Lewis College women’s basketball team rounded out this year’s recruiting class with six players signing in recent weeks to bring the class to eight new Skyhawks.
FLC announced the signings of three transfers – Aubre Fortner, Abbey Jensen and MorningRose Tobey – and three incoming freshmen – Ilyssa Galindo, Eve Kulovitz and Kalian Mitchell – to join freshmen Alyssa Adams and Katlyn Blacksten, who both signed in November.
“We wanted some experience to bring in – that was important – but we also wanted some four-year kids for the future of the program, kids who can develop and are program players, and that’s important, too. You need a mix of both,” FLC head coach Jason Flores said. “I’m definitely happy. We really were looking at the character of the people they are. That was really important for us, and I think that will bode well for the team, on and off the court.
“It’s been a fun summer. They were all here for our camp and it’s a good start. I can’t wait to get them on campus.”
Here’s a closer look at FLC’s signing class:
The transfersFlores and FLC hit the transfer market hard this season in an effort to get players who can step onto the court right away and fill some of the holes left from graduation and players transferring to other programs.
FLC lost four players to graduation, including starters Briana Clah and Astrea Reed. But the program will return senior Kelsey Wainright, a regular starter last season, who was granted another year of eligibility. Along with the senior departures, FLC saw Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year Vivian Gray and her older sister, Olivia, transfer to Oklahoma State University. Sophomore Jordyn Lewis also left FLC and will see the Skyhawks regularly in the future after she transferred to RMAC foe New Mexico Highlands.
To help bridge the gap left by the departures, Flores signed two former Division I players in Jensen and Tobey, and one junior college product in Fortner.
Tobey, a 5-foot-8 guard, will come to Durango after she spent the past three seasons at the University of Nevada in her hometown of Reno. During her time with the Wolf Pack, Tobey played in 58 of a possible 60 games during her freshman and sophomore years and started six games early in the 2017-18 season before her minutes dropped off under the direction of new head coach Amanda Levens.
In her three years in Reno, Tobey averaged 12.3 minutes and 2.4 points per game.
She improved her 3-point shooting during her junior year at Nevada. Her percentage from long range jumped from 21 percent as a freshman and sophomore to 34 percent last season.
“She’s a good shooter,” Flores said. “I think the fit of things and the style of play (at Nevada) probably wasn’t the best fit for her. I think she’s way more comfortable in a system like ours where she’ll have more freedom to shoot and put the ball down and distribute. I think she’ll be a big weapon for us and can open up the floor for others.”
Flores and FLC targeted Jensen out of high school, but the 6-1 forward from Yuma, Arizona, elected to sign with Northern Arizona University, where she played one season before making the move to FLC.
At NAU, Jensen played in five games as a true freshman. She logged 18 total minutes and scored all six of her career points against Antelope Valley College.
Flores believes Jensen is a great fit in his system at FLC, as she can run the floor well and can score in a variety of ways. She also should bring physicality to battle for rebounds.
Fortner, a 5-11 forward who played her last two seasons at Pima Community College, will bring a physical style of play that should match up well in the RMAC.
During her sophomore season with the Aztecs, Fortner, originally from Henderson, Nevada, started 24 games. She averaged 9.3 points on 41 percent shooting and 6.4 rebounds per game.
“We needed some aggressiveness,” Flores said, referencing Fortner and Jensen. “Looking at the big picture, I’m excited about the returners we have (in the front court) and pairing them with the girls coming in.”
The freshmenThe Skyhawks added more size and versatility with the incoming freshmen class, and Flores believes they could contribute right away.
Leading the class are the early signees, Adams, a 5-8 guard out of Moriarty, New Mexico, and Blacksten, a 5-11 forward from Black Forest who played at Air Academy.
“Alyssa Adams is a fierce competitor and can play multiple guard positions, and she can really defend. I think that’s where she can have an impact,” Flores said. “Katlyn is really versatile, kind of like Kayla (Herrera) was coming out of high school. She’s a complete team player and doesn’t care if she scores as long as the team does well. She’ll do whatever is needed, and that’s what we love about her.”
Galindo, Kulovitz and Mitchell will bring a wide range of talent to campus.
Flores said Mitchell is a scorer in every way. She can hit from deep, midrange and can attack openings to get to the basket, and her balanced attack will keep defenses honest, which will create openings for other players on the floor.
“She has a knack for scoring,” Flores said. “She grew up in Tohatchi, went to back-to-back state championship games, and she definitely has that knack.”
Kulovitz, out of Phoenix, brings what every team covets: size, shooting and passing.
“You don’t find a lot of 6-1 kids with the ability to shoot like she does,” Flores said of Kulovitz. “You can equate her game kind of to a European player. She has a lot of length and is highly skilled. She’s a really good passer and shooter, and she’s got a lot of potential.”
In Galindo, the Skyhawks have a player with the skill and basketball IQ to help lead the offense from the point guard position. The daughter of a coach, Galindo knows the ins and outs of the game and filled up the stat sheet during her prep career.
At Pueblo High School in Tucson, Arizona, Galindo played in 120 games and averaged 12.3 points, 6.2 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 4.8 steals per game. As a senior, she helped lead Pueblo to the Class 4A state championship game, and Flores raved about her work ethic and infectious passion for the game.
“She’s very cerebral and loves to push the tempo, and I love that about her game,” Flores said. “One thing I think is important about her, historically, the high school she went to was the bottom of the barrel for about 30 years, so for them to play in a state championship game last year was a huge accomplishment. She was one of the girls who got everyone working harder and spearheaded a whole culture change there.”
FLC will hope to blend the pieces together a year after it finished seventh in the RMAC and saw its season end in the first round of the conference tournament.