Makira Cook and Bailee Adkins, Dayton women’s basketball recruits. Submitted photos

Women’s basketball: 2020 recruits talk about why they picked Dayton

Bailee Adkins and Makira Cook committed to Flyers in August

However, Bailee Adkins and Makira Cook also are similar in a few ways. Both committed to other schools first and changed their minds. Both fell in love with the University of Dayton on their visits. Both come from strong high school programs that won state championships last season.

Here’s a glance at each of the players, who joined Anna LeMaster in Dayton’s 2020 recruiting class.

Adkins: A 5-foot-7 senior point guard at Huntington (W.Va.) St. Joseph’s High School, Adkins committed to DePaul in March. She reopened her recruitment and decided to stay closer to home after the death of her dad Mike, 42, on May 7. According to WSAZ.com, he was killed when he hit his head on a live power line while cleaning the gutters at their home.

“He was my No. 1 supporter,” Adkins said. “He loved the game, sometimes more than I did. He knew a lot about it. Every time I play, it’s for him. Every time I work out, it’s for him. Basketball is not just a sport. It’s something bigger now.”

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Adkins paid tribute to her dad in a Twitter post on May 9.

“Rip Dad,” she wrote. “You didn’t deserve this, but I know God had something bigger in store for you. You were loved by so many, and I will always cherish the memories we had together. I still can’t believe this is really real. I love you dad with everything in me. You’re in a better place.”

Dayton is 278 miles closer to Huntington than Chicago, so Adkins’ family will be able to watch her play much easier. Dayton was one of the first schools to offer her a scholarship after she decommitted from DePaul. She played in the spring for the West Virginia Thunder, an AAU team coached by Wayne girls basketball coach Travis Trice.

Adkins visited Dayton in August.

“I absolutely loved it there,” Adkins said. “I loved the environment and everything. I loved the coaches there. We laughed the whole time. It was fun. It really is like a family down there, and I like the way they play. I love the offense they run. They basically run what I run. I love the fast pace. I do not like slow.”

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Adkins averaged 11.1 points, 5.4 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 4.5 steals per game as a junior. Huntington St. Joseph finished 24-2 and beat Parkersburg Catholic in the Class A state championship. It has won nine state titles in the last 11 years.

Cook: A 5-foot-6 senior point guard from Mount Notre Dame High School in Cincinnati, Cook first committed to the Miami RedHawks in October 2018 but reopened her recruitment in April when Miami head coach Megan Duffy left for the head coaching job at Marquette.

“It wasn’t a hard decision,” Cook said. “I didn’t really know how to go about the whole thing. When the coach left, I guess that made it easier.”

Recruiting interest in Cook built in the spring during AAU season, so she said she had a strong relationship with Dayton coaches before visiting this summer.

“They recruited me just enough,” Cook said. “It wasn’t too heavy, and it wasn’t too little. Going into my visit, I already trusted them. When I was there, the atmosphere was just amazing. Other than the basketball part, even the people around campus were nice, and of course, the basketball girls, we all just immediately clicked. The coaches were a big part of it, too. It felt like a huge family. I just wanted to really be a part of it. I felt it. People say you’ll feel it when it’s right. I pretty much felt it.”

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Cook averaged 7.0 points, 4.6 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game as a junior at Mount Notre Dame. She scored eight points in the Division I state championship game as Mount Notre Dame beat Pickerington Central 52-31.

“It was exciting,” Cook said. “At first, it was nerve-wracking. In the first quarter, I was like, ‘Woah,’ but then it was super fun.”

The experience of playing on such a big stage, Cook said, helped her mature as a player, and she said Mount Notre Dame wants to win the championship again in her senior year.

“I know everyone wants our spot,” Cook said. “I know what it took for us to get there. I guess I also know when you’re there how easy it would have been to choke in the moment.”

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