NIU women’s basketball coach Kathi Bennett announced the signings of Annalese Lamke (Galesville, Wis./Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau), Ally May (Hartland, Wis./Arrowhead), MiKayla Voigt (Slinger, Wis./Kettle Moraine Lutheran) and Courtney Woods (Sydney, Australia/St. Margaret’s Anglican School) to National Letters of Intent to join the NIU women’s basketball program.
“Collectively, this is probably best class I’ve brought in since I started at NIU. We covered all the positions. Their mentalities are exactly what our cornerstones are built around,” Bennett said. “These are very high character kids and players so I’m very excited to have this group come in and make a great impact right away. We needed some size and we addressed that. We needed scoring guards and we addressed that.”
This year’s class is the largest signed by Bennett in her previous four signing classes at Northern Illinois University. Woods is also the first international student to sign under Bennett at NIU and is only the third international player for the NIU women’s basketball team since 1997, joining Biljana Kovacecic (1997-2000, Serbia) and Emina Sehalic (2004-05, Bosnia)
Lamke, a 6-3 forward, averaged 17.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game last season at Gale-Ettrick-Trampealeau as the Redhawks finished as regional runner-up with an 18-7 record, the team’s best record in over 20 years. She was the Coulee Conference Player of the Year and a first team All-State selection by the WBCA, as well as a first team all-area selection. She was also a member of the G-T-E’s volleyball and track teams, winning the state shot put championship in 2012-13.
“We’re celebrating very hard about Annalese because she just had an incredible summer with her AAU team and got looks from some bigger schools but she verbaled with us and we’re happy knowing she’s a Huskie,” Bennett said. “She’s a true back to the basket post player with great hands and is super athletic. She grew up on a farm so she really has that hard work ethic and mentality that we’re looking for in our program.”
May, a 6-2 forward, averaged 8.8 points over the last two seasons at Arrowhead as the Warhawks won back-to-back regional championships. A two-time team captain at Arrowhead, May shot 54-percent from the field last season, including 32-percent behind the three point line. She was also a member of the volleyball team, lettering as a freshman and sophomore. She was ranked as the 20th best player in the state of Wisconsin by Roundball Rankings.
“We’re really blessed to get Ally. She’s a post that can shoot the three and is an excellent passer. The combination of her and Annalese could be absolutely dynamite. Her size and what she can do perimeter wise, that’s something that we have not had and I’m very excited to bring her in and have someone at the four spot that can play big, as well as have some skill on the perimeter,” Bennett said.
Voigt, a 5-9 guard, helped Kettle Moraine Lutheran to the WIAA Division 3 State Championship last season as the Chargers finished the season 27-1. She was named the Wisconsin Flyway Conference’s Player of the Year and earned first team all-state honors as well, averaging 15.3 points per game with a 73-percent field goal percentage, as well as a 47-percent three point percentage. In her three seasons with the Chargers, Voigt has won three conference championships.
“Mikayla is one of the purest shooters I’ve recruited. She has unlimited range and she’s is not afraid to take shots; she shoots a very high percentage but she’s not just a shooter. She handles the ball; she can score off the dribble. She is a defensive player first, she’s got that mentality, but can score and our team needs someone to come in that can score,” Bennett said.
Woods, a 6-2 combo guard, won three state championships and led team to a 70-4 record in three seasons. She was her teams top-scorer last season and in 2011, averaging 25.0 and 19.7 points per game, respectively. Woods was also a member of St. Margarets Anglican School badminton and field hockey teams, as well as the debate team. Woods was named a top-20 basketball prospects in Australia by national media. Her mother, Dana, was a member of the Idaho women’s basketball team from 1980-84.
“Courtney’s a guard that can play the point and can run the show. She has the European mentality of how to score and has great feet. She really pushes the ball in transition and can shoot the three. She’s just a very complete guard with some size and can help us immediately,” Bennett said.