Written by Matt Wixon
Mansfield Timberview girls basketball trio eyes next stage on signing day
MANSFIELD – Seniors Terriell Bradley, JaLea Bennett, Dayo Olabode and Aurmani DeGar have helped Mansfield Timberview win 60 games in the last three seasons, but asked for a highlight of their basketball experience, some off-the-court stories topped the list.
Such as when a team-bonding trip included zip-lining.
“That was so scary,” Olabode said.
The seniors will be flying high again Wednesday, but there won’t be anything frightening about it. On the first day of the NCAA’s early-signing period for sports other than football, Olabode (Texas Tech), Bennett (Arizona), Bradley (Kansas) and DeGar (SMU) will make their college commitments official.
They’ll be an unusual sight: four players from one team signing Division I scholarships.
“It’s rare to have four individually talented players at the same time,” said Kit Martin, who coached 14 seasons at Flower Mound Marcus and two at Mont Belvieu Barbers Hill before taking over at Timberview last season. “I doubt it will happen again in my career.”
It’s extraordinary to have so much talent in one class, and unlike in some cases, none of the players are transfers. Bennett, Bradley and DeGar played significant roles for the varsity team as freshmen, and Olabode jumped into the varsity lineup as a sophomore.
“We’ve definitely got that team chemistry,” Bennett said.
They know each other’s tendencies on the court. They know strengths, weaknesses and how to make the most of each other’s skills.
What they don’t have, obviously, is consensus on where to go to college. Bradley, a 5-9 point guard who HoopGurlz rates as the No. 53 recruit in the nation, said Kansas has recruited her since she was in the eighth grade. Bennett, a 5-10 shooting guard, was once committed to Texas but decided on Arizona, which she said was the most persistent recruiter. Olabode, a 6-1 post, said Texas Tech made her feel welcome, and DeGar, a 5-9 guard, said when she committed to SMU that it was a dream come true.
Timberview, which finished 31-6 last year, was No. 22 in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches’ Class 5A preseason rankings. The team is 4-2 in the early season.
“We’ve been a little sluggish,” Bennett said.
“We’ve got to pick it up on defense,” Bradley said.
“We’ve got to play hard on every single play,” Olabode added.
That’s the only way Timberview will have a chance to beat two-time defending champion Duncanville, which is expected to have three girls sign letters of intent Wednesday, including guard Ariel Atkins, who HoopGurlz lists as the nation’s No. 4 recruit.
Duncanville has beaten Timberview four times during its 71-game winning streak, and the District 7-5A teams will meet at least twice this season. But they don’t play until next month, and Wednesday will be about celebration, not competition.
The four Timberview stars will be part of a ceremony that will include boys basketball player Alex Robinson, who is signing with Texas A&M.
“We have finally made it,” Bennett said. “It’s a proud moment.”
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter @mattwixon.
Early Signing Period
Wednesday is the first day when high school seniors in many sports can sign letters of intent. The early-signing period continues through Nov. 20. Athletes in football, field hockey, soccer, track and field, cross country and men’s water polo can’t sign until Feb. 5, 2014.