NC Central Women’s Basketball Signs Six Recruits
By Kevin Buczek
DURHAM, N.C. — Head coach Trisha Stafford-Odom has announced Kaylah Barnes, Morgan Callahan, Pearl Dean, Necole Hope, Paris McBride and Cherelle Washington have all signed to play basketball and study at North Carolina Central University in 2020-21.
The six signees include three transfers (Dean, Hope and Washington) and a trio of freshmen (Barnes, Callahan and McBride).
The half dozen newcomers will compliment an Eagles roster that posted its best record in the program’s NCAA Division I era last season and is expected to return 10 letter winners from that squad.
NC Central Women’s Basketball Recruits (alphabetical)…
Kaylah Barnes is a 6-0 guard/forward from Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Barnes played on two nationally-ranked teams at Riverdale Baptist High School and the National Christian Academy (NCA). She is a Dean’s List honoree at NCA with the highest average in chemistry. Barnes was a 2020 Rose Classic Summer Jam champion and a 2019 Snowfall Classic All-Tournament Team selection. She will be joining rising sophomore Anissa Rivera and rising redshirt freshman Promise Cunningham as NCA alum on NCCU’s roster (but they did not play together). However, Barnes did play with fellow signee McBride at Riverdale Baptist.
“It is a pleasure to have Kaylah joining us Eagles because she will pose an immediate problem for the defense with her size,” said Stafford-Odom. “Kaylah is a versatile big guard with the strength and capacity to facilitate offense from multiple trigger spots. She has clear court vision and surprising ball-handling abilities. She is a tough competitor and can produce buckets from multiple areas of the court.”
Morgan Callahan is a 6-1 forward from Zion, Illinois. Callahan played at Zion-Benton Township High School. She was a two-time first team all-area selection in 2018-19 and 2019-20, along with being both a first team all-state and first team all-conference award winner in 2019-20. Callahan also garnered St. Viator Tournament MVP accolades twice in 2018-19and 2019-20.
“Morgan comes with a college-ready physique and a wide range of skill sets,” said Stafford-Odom. “She has the capability of overpowering her perimeter defender, while also possessing the speed and agility to dominate players who guard her in the post. I am so honored to coach such a hard-working, humble, and quality young lady like Morgan, who has an unlimited upside.”
Pearl Dean is a 6-3 center from Cincinnati, Ohio. Dean is a transfer from Indiana State University, where she averaged 3.1 points and 2.5 rebounds per game for the Sycamores as a sophomore. Dean started her collegiate career at Wabash Valley College. As a Warrior, Dean helped WVC to a 32-1 record, an NJCAA Elite 8 appearance and a No. 1 ranking, while earning all-conference and all-region laurels after averaging 8.1 points and 7.1 points per game. Dean played her prep career at Purcell Marion High School, where she was an all-conference selection and an ESPN three-star recruit who was ranked the No. 37 post player by ESPN in 2018. Dean will sit one year as a redshirt in 2020-21 due to NCAA transfer regulations.
“Pearl is a very strong post player, true to her back-to-the-basket skills and dominance,” said Stafford-Odom. “She is a capable of controlling a game on both offense and defense with her quick feet and shot-blocking ability. Pearl has an unusual maturity level and holds the tools and work ethic to be an instant stat filler. What I love is how her calm off-court demeanor rivals the command she has on the hardwood.”
Necole Hope is a 5-10 guard from Waldorf, Maryland. Hope is transferring to NCCU to play her final season with the Eagles after playing three years at East Carolina University. She played in nearly every game for Pirates the past three seasons with 89 appearances, and she maintained collegiate career averages of 5.3 points, 1.9 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 0.6 assists per game over that timeline. Hope had a career-high 25-point performance against UNCW in which she made six 3-pointers. In her prep career, Hope was a two-time team MVP and two-time county player of the year at North Point High School, where she won three conference championships and finished as the program’s all-time leading scorer (tied) and leader in made 3-pointers. Hope, who will sit out one year as a redshirt in 2020-21 due to NCAA transfer rules, was a Havoc City AAU teammate of Rivera.
“It will be a pleasure to use Necole’s slithery athleticism on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor,” said Stafford-Odom. “Her speed and long frame allows her to get to the basket effortlessly to score. Her anticipation gets her in the passing lane for deflections that will initiate our fast break. Necole is an experienced player who adds another piece of difficulty and toughness to our offensive attack.”
Paris McBride is a 5-6 guard from Upper Marlboro, Maryland. McBride played at Riverdale Baptist High School, where she was a point guard for a pair of USA Today Top-25 ranked teams. McBride was also a 2016 Virginia state runner-up and 2017 state semifinalist at Highland Springs High School. She played one season with fellow signee Barnes in 2018-19.
“I am so excited to watch Paris transfer her leadership component onto the MEAC stage,” said Stafford-Odom. “She oozes winning habits, as she has won on every level of play. She is a physically strong guard, who will add defensive tenacity and elements of leadership to our team. Paris takes pride in running her team with efficiency and is a vocal piece that can elevate the play of her teammates.”
Cherelle Washington is a 5-10 guard from Fort Myers, Florida. She is a junior college transfer and is expected to be eligible to play for the Eagles in 2020-21. As a sophomore, Washington started 29 games at Daytona State College, where she averaged 15.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.4 blocks per game. She became the first Falcon to make seven 3-pointers in a game in program history. Washington played her first season at Florida Southwestern State, playing in 30 games with averages of 6.2 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 0.7 steals per game, while earning MVP honors at the Santa Slam. Her collegiate career already includes first team all-conference and NJCAA player of the week awards. Washington was a 1,000-point scorer in her prep career at Triton Regional High School. She also has Florida Storm Shootout MVP and track and field championship first place regional accolades.
“Cherelle has a fiery energy and passion for playing this game,” said Stafford-Odom. “She is the type of player who welcomes challenges and makes coaching fun. She is a deadly 3-point shooter, who will run the floor and also score in a variety of ways. Her positive outlook translates into perseverance in the midst of stiff competition. Having Cherelle’s bounce and cat-quick defensive reactions will make us an exciting team to watch.”