Women's basketball adds five players during spring signing period

NYIT transfer Julia Braungart in action as the point guard at Gannon University.
NYIT transfer Julia Braungart in action as the point guard at Gannon University.

OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. — NYIT women's basketball coach Kenny Parham has added five student-athletes during the spring signing period.

Ketsia Athias, Ashley Baggs, Julia Braungart, Dajah Gee and Melina Santacroce all are poised to join the program for the 2018-19 season.

Athias, a 6-foot-2 center from James Madison High School in Brooklyn, instantly becomes the tallest player on the NYIT roster. She also was courted by Division I St. Bonaventure.

"She's a big that blocks a lot of shots, rebounds well and is a very good athlete," Parham said. "She brings a combination of skills that will help us in the frontcourt with her size and athleticism."

Baggs, a 5-8 shooting guard, will join sister Corinn Baggs with the Bears after playing prep basketball at St. Joseph By-the-Sea High School in Staten Island.

"Ashley can do a little bit of everything," Parham said. "She's a big guard who can defend the 'one' through 'four.' She is a great defender and rebounder. She can handle the ball, shoot the ball and drive to the basket."

Braungart, a 5-6 guard, played the past two seasons at Division II Gannon University in Erie, Pa. She averaged 6.6 points, 2.7 assists and 2.5 rebounds while appearing in 29 games (28 starts) as a sophomore.

"Julia comes to us with a lot of experience," Parham said. "She was the starting point guard at Gannon as a freshman and sophomore, playing more than 30 minutes a game. Her leadership, and experience playing in a very good Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, are great complements to the players we have returning and the others we're bringing in."

Gee, 5-9 guard/forward, averaged 18.6 points and 8.1 rebounds per game at Frederick (Md.) Community College last season while starting 28 of 29 games.

"Dajah is a high-character student-athlete who comes with a versatile offensive package of being able to shoot the three from deep, post up and drive to the basket," Parham said. "Her ability to rebound and defend also will make her a great fit to our team."

Santacroce is a 5-10 forward from Bishop McGann-Murphy Diocesan High School in Riverhead on Long Island.

"Melina is a high-character student-athlete who instantly brings defensive toughness and rebounding," Parham said. "She has a high basketball IQ and good work ethic."

The quintet will be joined by fellow newcomers Zoe Amalbert, Emily Novick and Briana Van Cleaf, whose signings were announced during the early period in November.

NYIT women's basketball went 19-12 overall and 11-7 in the East Coast Conference last season, but needs to retool with the departures of all-time assists leader Nina Vukosavljevic, leading scorer and rebounder Maia Hood, and Kayla Bomani.

Forward Meg Knollmeyer, the 2016-17 ECC Rookie of the Year, also returns after missing last season while recovering from a torn ACL.