SIUE basketball signed three recruits

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SIUE women’s basketball head coach Samantha Quigley Smith has announced three additions to the 2022-23 roster.

The Cougars have added Olivia Clayton (Checotah, Oklahoma), Niya Danfort (St. Louis, Missouri) and Anna Blank (Olney, Illinois) to the team.

“We are very excited to continue to build on the success of our program,” Smith said. “Not only does he come from a good family, but he is also an experienced and proven winner.

Clayton, a 6-foot, 2-inch forward, previously played in Tulsa where he played 23 games for the Hurricanes. His career height was 10 points against Wichita State.

A four-year letter winner at Checotah High School, he averaged 11.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.1 blocks and 0.9 senior season steals. He posted 12.9 points per game as a junior. Named the All-Region team by the Oklahoma Girls Basketball Coaches Association (OGBCA), she also earned recognition as the VYPE Top 100 and McIntosh Democrat Defensive Player of the Year.

“Olivia’s versatility is something that has really stood out,” Smith said. “His ability to play and maintain a variety of positions will help him thrive in our system. Defensively, his length will annoy enemies and his ability to open the floor is what we eat from our offense.”

Danfort, a 5-3 shooting keeper, has been a consistent second-time scorer for Rend Lake College, averaging 10.0 points in his first season, 12.5 points per game in 2020-21 and 11.9 points per game last season.

He took 37.1 percent from a three -point range while catching 5.1 rebounds per game and 4.0 assists per contest last season. A graduate of Pattonville High School, he averaged 13.1 points per game for the Pirates his senior season.

“We’re excited to add local talent like Niya to the guard’s play,” Smith said. “Her experience at the JUCO level and the success of her team are supported by her own leadership skills. Niya is a floor general who can beat opponents from dribbles and hit consistent three -point shots.”

Blank, a 5-11 standout from Richland County High School, scored his 1,000th spot as a prep player in his sophomore season.

A second All-State pick with a second team award as a freshman and a third team award as a second grader, he helped Richland County to the Class 3A Regional Championship during the 2018-19 season. He averaged 22.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game as a second grader before sitting out the junior season due to injury. Blank also played AAU basketball with Indiana Elite Havoc.

“Anna will join our group as a point / two keeper who has a great vision of the open field,” Smith said. “His ability to engage his teammates when he’s also aggressive will be a powerful addition to a quick offensive break.”

The group adds four previously announced: Destine Duckworth (North Little Rock, Arkansas), Azaria Moore (St. Louis), Macy Silvey (Glen Carbon, Illinois), and Sophie Sullivan (Villa Park, Illinois).

“These three, as well as new students who signed up at the beginning of the year, will give a new face, local talent, and a phenomenal family to the‘ Fearlessly in Pursuit ’program culture,” added Smith.