Meet McNeese’s melting pot, Kennedy blends international flavor into roster
Jim Gazzolo, Special to the American Press
As if Europe wasn’t far enough, Lynn Kennedy went even farther away to find the final piece to his first rebuilding puzzle at McNeese State.
The new women’s basketball coach plucked Emerson Taylor from Perth, Australia, away from his former school Portland State to finish his first recruiting class in Lake Charles.
Taylor, a 6-foot-4 center/forward, from Willetton High School was the fourth international player Kennedy signed in the month since he was introduced on March 30 as head coach, replacing Kacie Cryer.
Taylor was the last of eight recruits signed by Kennedy, a group that included four transfers from the NCAA portal and four freshmen. Taylor had to be released by PSU before she could sign with McNeese, a process that wasn’t completed until Wednesday morning.
She signed last fall to play for Kennedy.
“(Taylor) is a high-quality player who can play both inside and out for us,” Kennedy said during a virtual conference call introducing the newcomers. “She is a top-20 player from Australia and somebody I have been recruiting for a couple years now. It’s great to have her coming to McNeese.”
The rest of the class signed within the last week.
“We have had relationships with a lot of these players,” Kennedy said. “You keep in touch with them through their coaches and though those relationships.”
The eight newcomers will be added to five returning scholarship players who, as of Wednesday, decided to stay at McNeese.
“We have had some good, tough workouts with our players and we have seen them really take to some things we are trying to do,” Kennedy said. “I’m excited about this class but also what we have coming back. I am excited for the upcoming summer and season.”
Kennedy, who coaches a fast style of play, said he has reached out to some area players and hopes that as the program grows McNeese will become a more attractive option.
“We have a fun way to play,” Kennedy said. “We want to be a high mid-major program, compete for championships every year and win NCAA games.”
The Cowgirls, who were 6-16 last season, haven’t experienced a winning record in six seasons.
All of Kennedy’s transfers have at least two years of eligibility left.
“Normally when you come into a situation it’s a two- or three-year rebuild,” he said. “We think we can win next year. We have a young team but we have an experienced team as well.”
Perhaps the best transfer signing for Kennedy was the one he brought with him from PSU. Desirae Hansen followed the coach to McNeese. The three-time all-Big Sky player played in the NCAA Tournament while at PSU.
“Desirae was our best player at Portland State,” Kennedy said. “She is one of the best shooters, one of the best passers I have every coached. Excited for her and do continue to do what we have done together.”
Kennedy said he expects to name his assistant coaches in the coming days.