PHILADELPHIA - Entering his second season at the helm of the University of Pennsylvania women's basketball program, head coach Mike McLaughlin announced the addition of six incoming freshmen in the Class of 2014 on Friday. Alyssa Baron, Kristen Kody, Lauren Kraemer, Meghan McCullough, Cassie Pappas and Courtney Wilson will join the Quakers for the 2010-11 season.
"I think we accomplished everything we wanted with this class," McLaughlin said. "We got a couple big post players, we got a point guard and we upgraded our wing play. These six have such a great energy and passion for the game of basketball."
The Class of 2014 - which consist of four guards, a forward and a center - hails from a total of five different states. Pappas and Wilson, both California natives, will have the longest trips to the West Philadelphia campus, while McCullough is a local product out of the Academy of Notre Dame in Villanova, Pa.
The newest members of the Red and Blue will join a Penn team that scuffled during McLaughlin's inaugural season. McLaughlin entered the 2009-10 season with the highest winning percentage of any head coach in college basketball - man or woman - at any level. However, facing one of the toughest non-conference schedules in decades and inheriting a team that lost 74 percent of its scoring, including the Ivy League's top scorer, the Quakers struggled.
Five letterwinners graduated from the 2009-10 squad - which included three of its top scorers - so McLaughlin understands the importance of integrating a fairly large recruiting class of six freshmen into a roster with nearly 50 percent turnover.
"We're not going to seperate the classes," he said. "I don't want to put that freshman label on them. We're not going to make excuses just because they're freshmen. If they are ready to play, they are going to have that opportunity to play. If not, they'll have to get better, and the day will come where they earn it. We're going to put everyone together as 12 basketball players, regardless of what their (class) years are, and put the best group out there that will make Penn better."
A full individual bio on each of the members of the Class of 2014 is listed below as is a brief overview of each from Coach McLaughlin.
Class of 2014 Individual Bios
ALYSSA BARON - Guard, 5'10"
Gulliver Prep: Five-time letterwinner and two-time team captain in basketball ... Four-time district champion ... 2005-06 regional champion and state semi-finalist ... 2007-08 and 2008-09 Miami Herald Player of the Year ... 2010 McDonald's All-America Nominee ... 2009-10 first-team all-state ... 2008-09 second-team all-state ... 2007-08 third-team all-state ... Three-time all-county ... Scored more than 2,000 career points ... Selected for 2010 Florida vs. Georgia All Star game ... Four-year letterwinner and 2009-10 team captain in track & field ... Two-time Team Track MVP and three-time all-county honorable mention ... Three-time district champion and two-time state finalist in the 400 meters ... 2010 district champion, 2009 regional champion and 2009 state finalist in the 4x800 relay ... Four-time Gulliver Prep MVP ... 2010 Gulliver Prep Scholar Athlete ... Gulliver Prep Wall of Fame ... National Honor Society member.
Personal: Daughter of Karen and David Baron … Enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences ... Sister, Jessica, played tennis at Michigan State (2003-07) ... Mother played basketball at Tufts University (1974-78) and grandfather played basketball at the University of Vermont (1931-34).
Coach McLaughlin on Alyssa:
"Alyssa is a very good athlete with good size. She can create her own shot, can shoot the three and can get to the basket. She was one of the top recruits in the country and had a lot of good college options. We're happy that she is coming here to Penn. I think Alyssa's going to have a solid career here."
KRISTEN KODY - Guard, 5'10"
Langley High School
Langley: Four-year letterwinner ... Three-time team captain ... Holds school record for career steals and career three-point attempts ... 2010 Team MVP ... Four-time district all-defensive team ... Three-time all-district team ... Played in prestigious Capital Classic in 2010 ... Three-time Scholar Athlete Award winner.
Personal: Daughter of Jamie and Tom Kody ... Enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences ... Brother, Thomas, played basketball at the University of Virginia.
Coach McLaughlin on Kristen:
"Kristen is a big wing player who does a little bit of everything. She can rebound, passes well, can handle the ball, can knock down a jump shot and is a solid defender. We are excited about her. She comes from a basketball background. She really understands the game and I think she'll contribute with her knowledge as well as her ability."
LAUREN KRAEMER - Center, 6'4"
Lake Forest Academy
Lake Forest Academy: Four-year letterwinner ... Team captain as a senior ... Two-time second-team all-county ... Led region in blocks and rebounds as a sophomore ... First-team all-conference in 2007-08 ... Two-time team MVP ... Named to 2010 Lake County All-Star team.
Personal: Daughter of Stephanie Kraemer.
Coach McLaughlin on Lauren:
"Lauren is a very good post defender. She can score around the basket and can do so using both hands. I think she'll have a chance to play right away. She does things that we need. She rebounds the ball and she can score around the basket. She had a lot of college choices and we're really glad she chose Penn."
MEGHAN McCULLOUGH - Guard, 5'6"
Academy of Notre Dame
Academy of Notre Dame: Four-year letterwinner in field hockey, basketball and lacrosse ... Captain of both the basketball and field hockey teams as a senior ... 2010 second-team all-state in basketball ... 2010 first-team all-league, all-county and all-Main Line ... Named first-team all-Main Line, second-team all-county and second-team all-league as a junior ... Earned honorable mention all-county and second-team all-Main Line honors as a sophomore ... Three-time first-team all-county and three-time league champion in field hockey ... Four-time all-league and all-Main Line first team in field hockey ... 2009 National Field Hockey Coaches Association All-Academic team ... 2008 Delaware County Field Hockey Player of the Year ... 2010 first-team all-league and 2009 honorable mention all-Main Line in lacrosse ... 2010 PA Sports Hall of Fame Scholar Athlete ... National Honor Society member.
Personal: Daughter of Colleen and Larry McCullough ... Enrolled in School of Engineering and Applied Science ... Brother, Chris, ran cross country and track at Gettysburg College ... Brother, Matt, is currently a member of the Cornell cross country and track teams.
Coach McLaughlin on Meghan:
"Meghan is a natural floor leader who plays the game at a really high pace. She competes really hard. She distributes the ball and is more of a pass-first point guard as well as a very good on-the-ball defender. We are expecting her to be able to come in and contribute fairly early in her career."
CASSIE PAPPAS - Guard, 5'8"
Crescenta Valley High School
La Crescenta, Calif.
Crescenta Valley: Four-year letterwinner and three-time captain in basketball ... Finished with 1,938 career points to rank third in school history ... 2010 All-Area Player of the Year ... 2010 Pacific League MVP ... Three-time all-league ... Three-time team MVP ... 2010 first-team all-state, all-section and all-area ... 2009 first-team all-area and second-team all-section ... Two-time Los Angeles Daily News All-Area ... Also lettered in track and field ... Earned Crescenta Valley Community Service Award with more than 100 hours of service.
Personal: Daughter of Catherine and Vincent Pappas ... Enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences ... Brother, Alex, played Rugby at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Coach McLaughlin on Cassie:
"Cassie had a tremendous high school career. She scored more than 1,900 points, averaged about 15 points per game and I think she was in the top 10 in scoring in California which is a really big state with a lot of great players. Cassie is a very competitive kid. She just loves the game. I think she is really going to help us in terms of her energy and her competitive edge."
COURTNEY WILSON - Forward, 6'3"
Archbishop Mitty High School
Archbishop Mitty: Three-year letterwinner ... Part of Archbishop Mitty 2008 regional and state championship teams, the 2009 sectional championship team and the 2010 league and sectional championship teams ... Two-time second-team all-league honoree ... Three-time scholar athlete ... Went a combined 71-26 in three seasons with the Monarchs ... National Honor Society member.
Personal: Daughter of Laurie and Douglas Wilson … Enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Coach McLaughlin on Courtney:
"Overall, Courtney is coming from a tremendous high school program. Archbishop Mitty is one of the top schools in California every year. She had around 6-8 Division I players on her team. It was a very talented group and she played a great role. She can shoot the three, she runs pretty well and she can pass the ball. Coach (Sue) Phillips does a great job. Courtney was very well coached and I think she'll be college-ready."