SAN ANTONIO — The UTSA women’s basketball program announced Wednesday the signing of Haylee Beard (Ozark, Mo./Ozark HS), Alana Heard (Missouri City, Texas/Hightower HS), Destiny Means (Duncanville, Texas/Duncanville HS), Tesha Smith (San Antonio, Texas/Wagner HS), Ashley Stephens (Kyle, Texas/Lehman HS), Dwanisha Tate (Arlington, Texas/Seguin HS) and Taylor Williams (Katy, Texas/Cinco Ranch HS) to National Letters of Intent during the fall signing period. The group will be eligible to begin play for the 2013-14 season.
“I’m very excited to add this very deep and talented class to our program,” head coach Rae Rippetoe-Blair said. “With seven seniors on our roster this season we knew there would be holes to fill, and the staff has done a great job of finding these talented individuals. These student-athletes come from great programs and will help us improve and grow as we move to Conference USA next season.”
Beard, a 5-foot-9 guard/forward, averaged 11 points and four rebounds per game last season. She shot 47 percent from the field and 79 percent from the free throw line to help lead Ozark High School to a 24-5 record. The squad advanced to the Class 5 quarterfinals and Beard was named second-team All-Central Ozark Conference.
Heard, a 5-foot-6 guard, averaged 7.2 points, 6.4 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 steals per game as a junior at Hightower High School last season. She was named the team’s Most Valuable Player and earned first-team All-District 23-5A after the campaign. Heard has helped lead the Lady Hurricanes to the UIL playoffs each season, including a spot in the Class 5A championship game as a freshman. This fall, the Houston Chronicle placed her on its preseason All-Greater Houston team. In addition, she is a member of the National Honor Society and is a two-time recipient of the Fort Bend ISD Academic Excellence Award.
Means, a 6-foot-1 forward/center, plays for head coach Cathy Self-Morgan. In 22 contests as a junior for Duncanville High School last season, she totaled 70 rebounds and 30 assists, as the Panthers posted a 40-1 record en route to the Class 5A State Championship. Following the campaign, Means was named District 5-5A First-Team All-Academic.
Smith, a 6-foot-1 center, plays for former Roadrunner Christina Camacho at Wagner High School. Last season, she averaged 15 points and 12 rebounds per game. Smith earned first-team all-state, first-team All-Region IV and District 25-5A Newcomer of the Year accolades from the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches (TABC). She helped the Thunderbirds advance to the Region 4-5A final and earned all-area and Newcomer of the Year honors from the San Antonio-Express News.
Stephens, a 6-foot-3 center, plays for head coach Jamie Coy at Lehman High School. As a freshman at Hays High School in Buda, she earned the Rebel Award, which is given to individuals who represent the Rebel way and pride every day.
Tate, a 5-foot-9 guard, plays for head coach Courtney Phillips at Seguin High School. Last season, she was named first-team All-District 7-4A and earned TABC All-Region I honors. Tate also was named to Texas Basketball Magazine’s all-state team and selected as the team’s Most Valuable Player. She was a second-team all-district selection as a sophomore, when she was named the team’s Defensive MVP. In addition, Tate has earned academic all-district honors three times.
Williams, a 6-foot-2 forward, plays for head coach Michelle Morris at Cinco Ranch High School. A three-star recruit and ranked as the No. 38 forward in the nation by ESPN HoopGurlz, Williams was named District 19-5A Defensive Most Valuable Player last season after totaling 81 blocks. She was an honorable mention all-state pick by Vype Magazine and was a Greater Houston Girls Basketball Association All-Star Game nominee. Williams also has earned first-team academic all-district honors twice.