There are many factors that make a college decision difficult for recruited student athletes. If you're good enough then many institutions will be calling your name. Places you may not even be able to point out on a map could be on that list. Local colleges or universities would also recruit you because they strive to keep local talent at home. Schools that have programs with rich tradition are also always appealing because they have what it takes for you to be nationally recognized. Each student athlete's wants are different. Their backgrounds are different. Even personal situations play a key role in determining the destination of a recruited student athlete. Once the right fit comes along, however, they always know.
For Cincinnati women's basketball players Dayeesha Hollins and Lesha Dunn UC has become the right fit and after transferring from two drastically different programs they have reached their final destinations.
Speedy sophomore Dayeesha Hollins is a Cincinnati native whom played high school basketball at Winton Woods High School. Top tier programs in the Big Ten heavily recruited Hollins, who was a finalist for the Associated Press Ohio Miss Basketball award. She committed to Michigan in 2008.
"I don't regret going there at all," Hollins said. "I really loved the people there and I had a great experience, but I also don't regret leaving there."
Imposing junior Lesha Dunn is from Toronto, Canada and just finished up playing two years of community college basketball at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas. The 6'4" center was also heavily recruited out of high school as schools like Syracuse, South Florida, and Massachusetts among others were interested.
"I wanted to go to a big program straight," Dunn said. "Adversity hit and I wound up there. It was fun I met a lot of good friends that I can keep for a lifetime. I just had to roll with the punches."
Hollins had tremendous success as a freshman in Ann Arbor. She averaged 12.0 points and 3.4 rebounds in her single season in the maze and blue earning her a spot on the All-Freshman Team. Her yearning for her hometown and her family ultimately led Hollins to her decision to transfer to UC where she is expected to have a big role and start where she left off while a Wolverine.
"I know it was only three hours away but I needed my family a lot and needed that support," Hollins said. "I'm going to be one of the primary scorers, so I have to get out there and do what I need to do, get my teammates involved, and be a scoring point guard like I was at Michigan."
Dunn's reason for continuing her career at UC is not the same as Hollins. Dunn finished her two-year stint at Trinity Valley CC and was looking to jump to the next level, as all junior college or community college players tend to do. After averaging 6.9 points and 5.0 rebounds helping her team amount a 31-2 record and no. 3 national ranking, Dunn chose UC over Rutgers, UTEP, Memphis, and Mississippi State among others.
"I've always been successful in red so I knew I would have success here," Dunn joked. "If I came here I wouldn't just be a number. I would come here and play and actually help out the program. I felt at home on my visit and you can't find that everywhere."
Head coach Jamelle Elliott likes having transfers in her program because she knows that because they are required to sit out a season by the NCAA that they will have a year of practice under their belt. She does not treat them like freshman, however, buying into the program can still be a challenge.
"They are able to spend a whole year within your system, practicing every day, so that when they are eligible and able to play it's not like they're freshman for the first time," Elliott said.
Transfers are a blessing in disguise for coaching staffs because they are able to land already seasoned players that only strengthen their programs. Acquiring Hollins and Dunn is equivalent to having two five star recruits with proven experience. While Hollins may be further along than Dunn they both present upgrades at their positions.
"She [Hollins] came poised, ready to go. She had the experienced, had the talent, had the work ethic," Elliott said. "She's been a huge, huge addition to our program and she's probably the quickest basketball player I've seen with the ball."
"What she [Dunn] brings from a physical standpoint is something we don't have on our team," Elliott said. "She's definitely a presence inside because she's long, she's pretty agile, and has great fundamentals, so I think she's going to be a huge addition."
The Bearcats are poised to have a winning season in 2011-12. Hollins and Dunn hope their contributions move the team in the direction of a more prominent team in the Big East.
"We won't have a losing season," Hollins said. "I just feel like we're going to be a totally different team. People are going to be surprised at the things that we're doing."
"We simply won't lose that much," Dunn said. "I'm not looking at this to be a Cinderella story. All we want is more success."