Women’s basketball: Wittenberg’s new coach Jeter excited about recruiting class

Former CJ, UConn star adds eight players to roster

Tamika Jeter has focused on recruiting in her first four months as the Wittenberg women’s basketball coach.

The Chaminade Julienne graduate who won two national championships during her college career at Connecticut worked to keep the seven players who had already committed to Wittenberg when she was hired in May and also added a player (Jaida Malone) to the class.

“A lot of it has been recruiting,” Jeter said Friday. “A lot of it has been organization. A lot of it has been building relationships with the players that are here and trying to stay in tune with the players who are away.”

Jeter has talked to the whole team on Zoom and recently had her best friend and former college teammate Swin Cash, who will be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday, speak to the players as well. Cash is now a vice president of operations for the New Orleans Pelicans. Jeter wanted the Wittenberg players to see how a mom can balance taking care of kids while working a high-profile job in basketball.

“We just kind of talked about being a woman and having a platform,” Jeter said. “Pretty much every decision she has to make she walks into a room with all guys.”

Jeter spent the last two seasons as an assistant at Ohio State and has spent her whole career at the Division I level. She’s used to having athletes on campus all summer and getting to work with them. At the Division III level, she won’t get that chance until the fall.

That did leave more time for recruiting. She called each of the six players who committed when interim coach Valerie Driscoll was running the program last season or earlier when Brian Neal, who was hired in May 2020 but left in December that same year, was the head coach.

Jeter also had to convince the freshmen from last season’s team to stay at Wittenberg, knowing any of them could have chosen to transfer.

“What I noticed mostly in talking to them — and I told the upperclassmen this — is they came back because of (the returning players),” Jeter said. “When I said I was coming, there was kind of a buzz. I don’t think that hurt. But you’re taking a chance on the first-year coach ... with this storied resume or whatever you want to call it, but I’m still a first-year head coach. I think the players really sold it. They just love the team.”

Jeter has gotten to know the attributes of all the incoming freshmen in recent months. Here’s her scouting report on each:

Taryn Cash, guard, Princeton High School (Cincinnati)

Jeter: “She’s very athletic. A combo guard who can play the two or the one. She did pretty well from the perimeter, but she’s a phenomenal defender. Very aggressive. Great penetrator to the rim and can finish with her right and left.”

Autumn Crockett, forward, Mount Notre Dame High School (Cincinnati)

Jeter: “Autumn is a talent. She probably should be a D-I kid. She would be a slimmer Charles Barkley. She’s going to rebound everything on both ends of the floor. She’s highly versatile. I think she has more offensive game that she’s been called to do because she played with All-Americans in high school. She does all the dirty work. She’s going to take charges, and she’s going rebound.”

Lauren Legate, center, Valley View High School (Germantown)

Jeter: “Great hands. Super high basketball IQ. She actually played against my husband’s AAU program, and they ended up beating them. They had the No. 3 player in the country: Ayanna Patterson, from Princeton, who’s going to Connecticut. Her team beat that team solely because Lauren was very tough with Ayanna. She can pick and pop and stroke it. She’s one of those kids who gets the ball any time it touches her fingertips.”

Jaida Malone, Trinity High School (Cleveland)

Jeter: They were already kind of recruiting her (before Jeter was hired), and she had some full rides but decided she saw the value of coming here. We kind of got her late, which is great. She’s a dual-sport athlete. She runs track and plays basketball.”

Kelsey Ragan, forward, Anthony Wayne High School (Whitehouse, Ohio)

Jeter: “Her dad (Luke Ragan, 1991-94) played basketball here, and her mom (Rachelle) was an All-American in softball here. You can play her at multiple positions. She’s another kid that can stroke it, but doesn’t mind putting it on the floor with a little contact. She’s very competitive. There’s no rattling her.”

Haley Scott, forward, Western High School (Russiaville, Ind.)

Jeter: “She will bulldoze you over. I love her tenacity. She’s another kid that can finish both ways. She runs the floor hard. She just all out plays hard. She rebounds with two hands. She’s going to give us toughness. She might be a little undersized for her position, but she’s a tough, strong kid.”

Madison Sloan, forward/center, Marysville High School

Jeter: “She’s long. She gets down the floor pretty well and has a great touch around the rim. At Division III, I’m finding out, if you have size — and DePauw is one of those teams that has a lot of size — you can just play over people’s heads. She gives us that advantage. She’s the only person we had in that range. She gives us shot-blocking length. I think I will really be able to help her jump some levels with a hook shot.”

Josie Williams, forward, Seton High School (Cincinnati)

Jeter: “She can shoot the ball and put it on the floor. She’s more of a combo guard but with length. She’s about 5-9, 5-10. Very versatile. She has a really big smile. She works really hard. When you call Josie, she’s at work. She’s so excited to come and get in the weight room.”

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