Kennedy begins putting mark on program, first-year Cowgirls coach adds four transfers, three Europeans
Jim Gazzolo, Special to the American Press
Lynn Kennedy has proven to be a man of his word — at least in the early going.
The new McNeese State women’s basketball coach came to town promising to “leave no stone unturned” in finding talent to rebuild the Cowgirls program.
We never knew he was a man of international intrigue as well.
McNeese went on social media Friday to announce the first four signings in the Kennedy era. When one adds the commitment of Mireia Yespes from Spain earlier in the week, three of them have ties to Europe. Four of them are transfers and all have multiple years of eligibility remaining.
The tweet from McNeese women’s basketball read “this is only the beginning.”
Proving the NCAA transfer portal is equally as strong in the women’s game as it in is the men’s, Kennedy stayed true to his West Coast roots when it comes to his first class as Cowgirls skipper, even getting one player from a Power Five conference.
“We want to play at the highest level and I feel we have brought in high-quality athletes to do just that,” said Kennedy. “Every player is different and will bring special skills to the team and that includes the kids that are coming back. They will be a big part of this as well.”
Kennedy even went back to his former school, Portland State, to sign junior guard Desire Hansen, a two-time All-Big Sky third-teamer. The 6-foot Hansen averaged 11.3 points and 4.9 rebounds in 90 games at PSU. She also dished out 3.3 assets a game. She was the conference’s Freshman of the Year.
“Desire is a special, special player,” Kennedy said. “One of the best skill players I have ever been around. She is amazing to watch.”
Hanson shot 37 percent from beyond the 3-point arc and has played in the NCAA Tournament for Kennedy.
“It says so much to me that she trusted me to come all the way across the country to play in the same system,” Kennedy said.
Autumn Watts is a 6-1 sophomore forward from New Mexico who also signed to transfer to McNeese. She appeared in 46 games for the Lobos the last two seasons and was a three-star recruit out of high school, as ranked by ESPN-Women.
Watts averaged 16.4 points and 9.9 rebounds for Colorado Basketball Club and was ranked by ESPNW as the No. 13 forward in her high school class.
Also signing were Cristina Gil (5-8) and Suzanne Kulinska (5-10), a pair of guards who started playing in Europe. Gil, who comes from Barcelona, Spain, was at Boise State last season and played a limited amount of time.
Kulinska is a Colorado transfer who is originally from Gdynia, Poland. The 5-10 sophomore guard has also had limited playing time in college.
On Monday, Kennedy said he was expecting to release the names of his high school signees, which will include Yespes, a 6-2 guard who released on social media Wednesday that she was committed to McNeese.
“A lot of getting players from Europe is about relationships with club coaches over there,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy is expected to conduct a news conference to formally announce his first signing class on Wednesday.
Kennedy has proclaimed “we will win championships.”
Signing his first class is the opening step in fulfilling that promise.