University of Maine women’s basketball coach Cindy Blodgett has landed four players, including Gorham’s Rachele Burns, as she continues the rebuilding process. All four have signed National Letters of Intent.
Burns, a 5-foot-7 all-purpose guard, averaged 25 points per game for Gorham High last season and was named the ESPN Soccer Player of the Year for the state in 2008. She is also an all-state softball player.
Amber Smith is a 5-10 guard from Ipswich, Mass., who averaged 22 points and 12 rebounds last season and has scored more 1,300 points.
Shareka Maner of Spring Hill, Fla., a 6-1 forward, has averaged 11.6 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.9 steals and 2.5 blocks during her Nature Coast High School career and Katelyn Vanderhoff of Lititz, Pa., is a 5-9 guard who has scored 896 points during her Lancaster Mennonite High School career and is also a soccer and field hockey standout.
“They will make an impact on our roster immediately,” said Blodgett. “They’re winners. They’re used to winning and I can’t underscore that point enough. That’s what we’re trying to build the team around.”
She said she and her coaching staff are going to try to find some post players to add to the class “but we want to add people to help fill voids, not fill roster spots.”
Burns, who is reportedly nursing a knee injury, is considered a “very, very talented athlete” by Blodgett.
“She’s one of the most talented athletes to come out of Maine in quite a while. It’s good for us to put a fence around the top Maine player and we hope to continue to do so,” said Blodgett.
She added it will be interesting to watch Burns’ progress as she focuses on just one sport.
“There’s room for growth,” said Blodgett.
She called Smith a “basketball nut who is in the gym all the time. She’ll put pressure on the whole team to be in the gym all the time. She’s a guard who won’t be pushed around at all. She can rebound and score.”
Maner, according to Blodgett, is “very, very athletic. She has great length. She’ll help us speed up the tempo on both ends. And she’s a competitor who plays with a lot of emotion. She can hit midrange jumpers and score around the basket and she has great timing when it comes to blocking shots.”
Vanderhoff is considered a “very intelligent basketball player who doesn’t make mistakes. And what I love about her is she is the type of player who wants to take the last shot and will take responsibility whether it goes in or out. She has a great deal of courage and confidence. She’s a hardworking kid who doesn’t take anything for granted.”
The recruits’ eligibility is contingent upon their admission to the school and compliance with NCAA initial eligibility guidelines.