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    Nov. 10, 2004

    By Jeff Honza

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - Ever since head coach Dana Eikenberg and assistants Jody Adams, Susan Koering and Rasheeda Love came to Southern Illinois, they've been selling Saluki women's basketball to recruits.

    Today, their hard work paid off, as Jasmine Gibson, Erica Smith, Gentry Dietz and Teresa Parker signed letters of intent to play for the Dawgs in 2005-06.

    In regards to her first batch of signees at SIU, Eikenberg had this to say.

    "Jody, Susan and Rasheeda worked their tails off and should take all the credit," stated Eikenberg. "We knew from day one that this was the group we wanted."

    "I believe the determination and efforts of these four individuals will give Saluki fans something to cheer about in the future."

    Starting with Gibson and Smith, each join the Salukis from the Show-Me State.

    A 5-10 forward, Gibson hails from Kansas City, Mo., and presently attends North Kansas City High School. She earned all-conference honors in each of her first three prep seasons, and was named the school's Female Athlete-of-the-Year as both a sophomore and junior.

    Statistically, Gibson scored over 1,000 career points, and ranks among the Lady Hornets' career leaders in several categories, including scoring (1070 pts., 5th), free throws made (155, 5th), rebounding (719 reb., 3rd) and blocks (85, 4th). Additionally, she is a member of the track & field and softball teams.

    "Jasmine is extremely athletic and will likely play the three position," said Eikenberg. "She is a penetrator with a 15-foot game who has the ability to dominate on the glass."

    Smith (5-7, G/F) is from Florissant, Mo., and is a senior at Hazelwood West High School. A three-time captain and first-team all-Suburban North Conference pick, she was named her league's Player-of-the-Year in 2003-04.

    Also named honorable mention all-state and all-metro, Smith finished her junior year by surpassing the 1,000-career points mark. In addition, she was the recipient of the Gateway Classic's Standout Athlete award and was one of the St. Louis American's "Fab Five."

    "Erica is an explosive guard with exceptional quickness," described Eikenberg. "Offensively, she has the ability to play either the two/three or point guard positions. Defensively, she is a hard-nosed player."

    A native of Omaha, Neb., Dietz is a 6-2 forward/center who averages 15 points a game as her team's leading scorer at Millard North High School. A second-team all-Metro pick, she was tabbed honorable mention all-state by both the Lincoln Star and Omaha World Herald.

    Dietz also averaged nine rebounds and recorded five double-doubles a year ago, and is the school's career leader in blocked shots.

    "Gentry is a strong post player who has the skills to face up or work with her back to the basket," commented Eikenberg. "She is a great athlete who runs the court well."

    Millard North High School coach Jeffrey Ritz also had good things to say about Dietz.

    "I believe Gentry's best basketball is ahead of her," said Ritz. "She is developing an all-around game and is truly a diamond in the rough. She will fit in well at SIU."

    Lastly, Parker is a 6-1 forward from Pequot Lakes, Minn, where she attends Pequot Lakes High School. Like Gibson and Smith, she, too, topped the 1,000-career point mark as a junior. A four-year starter and three-time MVP and all-Region pick, she is expected to become her school's all-time leading rebounder in 2004-05.

    Averaging 16.3 points, 11.3 rebounds and four blocks per game last season, Smith has also been ranked among the top-100 in the state of Minnesota since her freshman year.

    "Teresa is a blue collar worker who loves to play a physical game," Eikenberg said. "She is mobile and strong, hard to guard and loves contact."

    In regards to the group as a whole, Eikenberg says, "All four have the potential to contribute as freshmen. They have committed to helping us turn this program around. They are all terrific students who will be respected in the Saluki community and they intend to help make a difference here at SIU."



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