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ND Women’s Basketball: McGraw scours Indiana for talent

Joe Meixell | Thursday, November 10, 2005

Muffet McGraw did not have to look very far to find the future of the Notre Dame women’s basketball program. The Irish head coach received signed letters of intent from four high school seniors Tuesday, with three of the four recruits hailing from Indiana.

The player traveling the shortest distance to Notre Dame is Melissa Lechlitner, the standout point guard from St. Joseph’s High School in South Bend. Guard Ashley Barlow of Indianapolis’ Pike High School and forward Danielle Ben-Tsvulun from Fort Wayne’s Harding High School are also staying in state to play for the Irish. Center Erica Williamson from Charlotte, N.C., rounds out the class.

McGraw said she is very pleased with the group of signees.

“I think this is one of the best classes that we’ve had – when you have the quality of player that we have and the skill level.

“And I think we addressed our needs.”

One huge need area for Notre Dame is the point guard position, with second-year captain Megan Duffy set to graduate in May. McGraw believes Lechlitner is the perfect replacement for Duffy.

“She’s a right-handed Megan Duffy,” McGraw said. “I think that she and [Duffy] have so much in common. They’re both incredibly competitive. They hate to lose. They are the kind of leaders that their team really looks to.”

Like Duffy, Lechlitner is no stranger to accolades. The point guard garnered all-state honors in each of her first three high school seasons. Lechlitner led St. Joseph’s to the Class 3A state title in 2005, averaging 16.3 points and 6.3 assists per game.

“She is one of the best players in the country and in my opinion, the best point guard in the country,” McGraw said. “We’re just thrilled to have her take over the team.”

McGraw expects Lechlitner to come in and contribute immediately. The coach envisions a backcourt tandem of Lechlitner and current Irish sophomore Tulyah Gaines.

Barlow, one of the other top senior guards in Indiana, will bring a great deal of versatility to the Irish. The Pike star can play both guard spots and small forward. She averaged 23.7 points per game last season, but also rebounds and defends very well.

“Barlow is a very versatile guard,” McGraw said. “I think she will do a lot of the little things for us.”

Barlow, like Lechlitner, was named all-state in 2005. “All Star Girls Report” ranked her the No.55 player in the nation and the No. 10 shooting guard.

The six-foot-three Ben-Tsvulun is one of the top forwards in Indiana. The Harding product will give the Irish much needed depth down low.

The six-foot-four Williamson played her first three years of high school basketball at Honeoye Falls-Lima High School in Rochester, N.Y. Williamson was named to the all-state team in 2005 and garnered all-conference honors in each of her first three seasons.

McGraw said that the class as a whole meshes very well with the program and the University in general.

“They are just all a great fit for Notre Dame in every way – academically, basketball-wise, personality-wise,” McGraw said.

she and [Duffy] have so much in common. They’re both incredibly competitive. They hate to lose. They are the kind of leaders that their team really looks to.”

Like Duffy, Lechlitner is no stranger to accolades. The point guard garnered all-state honors in each of her first three high school seasons. Lechlitner led St. Joseph’s to the Class 3A state title in 2005, averaging 16.3 points and 6.3 assists per game.

“She is one of the best players in the country and in my opinion, the best point guard in the country,” McGraw said. “We’re just thrilled to have her take over the team.”

McGraw expects Lechlitner to come in and contribute immediately. The coach envisions a backcourt tandem of Lechlitner and current Irish sophomore Tulyah Gaines.

Barlow, one of the other top senior guards in Indiana, will bring a great deal of versatility to the Irish. The Pike star can play both guard spots and small forward. She averaged 23.7 points per game last season, but also rebounds and defends very well.

“Barlow is a very versatile guard,” McGraw said. “I think she will do a lot of the little things for us.”

Barlow, like Lechlitner, was named all-state in 2005. “All Star Girls Report” ranked her the No.55 player in the nation and the No. 10 shooting guard.

The six-foot-three Ben-Tsvulun is one of the top forwards in Indiana. The Harding product will give the Irish much needed depth down low.

The six-foot-four Williamson played her first three years of high school basketball at Honeoye Falls-Lima High School in Rochester, N.Y. Williamson was named to the all-state team in 2005 and garnered all-conference honors in each of her first three seasons.

McGraw said that the class as a whole meshes very well with the program and the University in general.

“They are just all a great fit for Notre Dame in every way – academically, basketball-wise, personality-wise,” McGraw said.