FORT MYERS, Fla. - Florida Gulf Coast University head women’s basketball coach Karl Smesko announced the signing of the program’s first-ever top 100 recruit on Thursday afternoon, as R.J. Reynolds High School guard Whitney Knight (Winston-Salem, N.C./R.J. Reynolds HS) has signed a National Letter of Intent (NLI) to join the Eagles next season.
“We are all really excited Whitney has chosen to continue her education and playing career at FGCU,” said Smesko. “She is a tremendously talented player, and she should help our program take another big step forward.”
“I chose Florida Gulf Coast because I was impressed with the coaches,” Knight said. “FGCU has consistently been among the top teams in the Atlantic Sun Conference. I will be majoring in engineering and they have a great engineering program. They have a really nice campus and I want to be apart of an up-and-coming program.”
Knight was rated as high as 19th nationally at the guard position and 73rd overall in the recruiting class of 2011 by ESPN's HoopGurlz. Knight, who had over 120 scholarship offers and chose FGCU over Duke, North Carolina and West Virginia, is a three-time All-Northwest pick and finished third in the voting for the Garber Award after finishing second in 2010. The Mary Garber Award, named in honor of Mary Garber, a former Winston-Salem Journal reporter and a pioneer for women in the field of sports journalism, is given annually to the top player in northwest North Carolina.
The 6-foot-2 combo guard, a participant in USA Basketball tryouts, averaged 18.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 4.0 steals and 3.6 blocks per game and led the Demons to an 18-8 overall record as a senior.
Knight, who ranks third at her position and 21st nationally by Dan Olson’s Collegiate Girls Basketball Report, averaged 15.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.0 steals and 3.0 assists as a junior and shot 78 percent from the foul line and 45 percent from the floor. In her first season at Reynolds after transferring from Bishop McGuinness, Knight helped the Demons to the sectional finals. At McGuinness, she helped the Villains win two NCHSAA 1-A titles.
Knight is the fifth addition to the 2011-12 FGCU roster. She joins freshman Anthoula “Anthi” Chatzigiakoumi (Athens, Greece) and transfers Shayla Ball (Hillsboro, Ore./Hillsboro HS/Clackamas CC) and Joyce Holloway (Chicago, Ill./Thornton Fractional South HS/Jefferson College), who signed National Letters of Intent. Junior-to-be Autumn Lau (Mt. Wolf, Penn./Northeastern HS/St. Francis College - NY) is also another addition for the Blue and Green, but will have to sit out the 2011-12 season due to NCAA four-year transfer rules.
The Blue and Green finished the 2010-11 season with a 28-4 overall record (17-3 A-Sun) and secured the program’s second Atlantic Sun regular season championship and fourth consecutive WNIT automatic bid. FGCU ended their four-year Division I transition period with four automatic bids to the WNIT, two Atlantic Sun regular season crowns and an overall record of 100-25. The Eagles, who led the nation in three-point field goals made per game (10.9) last year, return four of five starters for the 2011-12 campaign, including the team’s leading scorer in second team All-Conference performer Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane HS).