The North Carolina women’s basketball team announced the signings of three members of the class of 2023 on Wednesday on the first day of the national signing period.
For a Tar Heel team that will be missing it’s leading scorer and sole (redshirt) senior in Paris Kea next season, head coach Sylvia Hatchell has replenished guard depth for the coming year, as well as adding size with a new forward.
The most acclaimed signing of the year comes in the form of four-star prospect Malu Tshitenge-Mutombo, a 6-foot-3 forward and the No. 56 recruit in the country, according to ESPN. Tshitenge-Mutombo, the niece of former NBA player Dikembe Mutombo, projects as a rebounder and low-post scorer for a team that has lacked multiple quality forwards in the past few years.
The St. John’s College High School star and Germantown, Md., native comes in with the ability to finish through contact on short shots, rebound the ball and operate as a shot blocker. Her athleticism should allow her to play within North Carolina’s up-tempo system, and her height and size will be a boost to a UNC team that has been starting four guards so far in the 2018-2019 season.
Looking to help replace the scoring punch of Kea will be Lexi Duckett, a three-star guard from Daytona Beach, Fla. Duckett, standing 5-foot-11, has proven herself as a quality shooter at the high school level, with an impressive pull-up jump shot. Her handle and change-of-pace ability should help her shake free of defenders to create open shots for herself and her teammates.
Hatchell’s system of using multiple ball handlers relies on shooters at multiple positions and guards with the ability to break down the defense, both of which Duckett looks to provide. Her shooting will help her play off the ball with guards Shayla Bennett and Stephanie Watts on the floor next year, and her quickness will open up her playmaking for the rest of the team.
Duckett was named the offensive player of the year for her team as a first-year at Father Lopez Catholic High School, Team MVP her sophomore year and was named SIAA Player of the Year her junior year at DME Sports Academy.
The final guard is Nia Daniels, a 5-foot-10 athletic scoring guard from Harrisburg, N.C., Daniels comes in as a three-star prospect that Hatchell has praised for her athleticism and ability to rebound the ball, as well as her ability to create for herself and her teammates.