Hofstra women’s basketball head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey never imagined she would recruit someone from Idaho for her fall 2010 recruiting class, but after witnessing the tenacity displayed by Kate Loper during an AAU tournament in the nation's capital, focus quickly shifted to this "gem" from the Gem State. Loper is one of three Hofstra women’s basketball recruits for the 2010/20011 season that Kilburn-Steveskey announced last week, with the trio hailing from a wide cross section of the country that includes the Mountain West, Deep South and South Jersey.
While the 2009/2010 season has just gotten underway, Kilburn-Steveskey is excited about the intangibles that will come from next year’s freshman class that includes Loper (Post Falls, Id.), Ngwanma (Amma) Onyeuku (Fayetteville, Ga.) and Annie Payton (Camden, N.J.). All three players were recruited by major women’s college basketball programs and will have large shoes to fill next year after seniors Sam Brigham and Jess Fuller graduate from Hofstra.
Kilburn-Steveskey actually stumbled upon Loper by accident while she was scouting another player competing in a Washington D.C. AAU tournament. In the last 2:45 of a hotly contested game while the player Kilburn-Steveskey was looking at subbed herself out, Loper stepped up big for the Spokane Stars Girls AAU Basketball Club with a three pointer, two-point field goal and a pair of clutch free throws. “I was going 'wow, this kid is a competitor,” said Kilburn-Steveskey of Loper, who she sees similarities with Brigham in terms of toughness, vocal leadership, three-point range and a quick shooting release.
Once Kilburn-Steveskey approached Loper, the Idahoan was very receptive to making her college basketball home with the Pride, especially since she wants to pursue a career in broadcasting journalism and Hofstra has a top-notch School of Communications and is just 25 miles from the media capital of the world. The 5-11 guard earned first team All-North Idaho honors the last two years for Post Falls High School and will be a likely replacement for Brigham, according to Kilburn-Steveskey.
The other two players that comprise Kilburn-Steveskey’s fourth recruiting class are also heralded players including Onyeuku, who is from the Hofstra coach’s alma mater Fayette County High School. The 5’10 power forward enters her senior year after averaging 16.8 points per game and 7.9 rebounds a game last season, which earned her all-state honors. “Amma runs the floor like a gazelle,” said Kilburn-Steveskey. “She’s an undersized [power forward]…that can grab the rim.”
Payton, who earned All-South Jersey honors last season at Camden High School, was also recruited by the likes of Temple and Colonial Athletic Association foe Virginia Commonwealth. The versatile 5’9 Payton compiled 21.5 points per game and nine rebounds a game her junior season and can play either guard or forward. “Her versatility will be an added plus,” said Kilburn-Steveskey of Payton, who garnered Olympic Conference first-team honors as a sophomore after averaging 19 points a game.
Since arriving at Hofstra for the 2006/07 season Kilburn-Steveskey has proven to be an effective recruiter with her 2009/2010 class ranked 41st in the nation by ESPN/HoopGurlz, and the trio she has assembled from around the country for next season could gain some similar national respect. The 2010/2011 to 2013/2014 seasons should be an exciting time for Hofstra women’s basketball.