Lady Vols land another Top-5 recruiting class

Knoxville, Tenn. (WVLT)-- The University of Tennessee women's basketball program has landed its second-straight top-five recruiting class.

Head coach Holly Warlick announced Friday that four student-athletes have inked National Letters of Intent during the early signing period to join the Lady Vol program for the 2018-19 season.

After reeling in a consensus No. 1-ranked class last season, Warlick and her staff have pulled in a group currently rated No. 3 by ProspectsNation.com and No. 5 by espnW HoopGurlz. These are the best back-to-back signing classes for UT since a No. 5-rated unit in Pat Summitt's final season (2012 signing class) and a No. 3 collection in Warlick's first year as head coach (2013 signing class/Mercedes Russell was the No. 1-ranked player).

"I am really pleased that we were able to address a lot of needs with this class," Warlick said. "We needed guards, and we were able to get two very good ones. We needed a forward and a wing player, and we were able to fill those spots with two more players who we really like. It's a very talented group of young ladies who really wanted to be a part of this program, and they give us an opportunity to add to an arsenal of great basketball players and quality people."

Zarielle "Zay" Green, a 6-0 guard from Duncanville, Texas (Duncanville H.S.); Jazmine Massengill, a 6-0 point guard from Chattanooga (Hamilton Heights Christian Academy); and Amira "Mimi" Collins, a 6-3 forward from Waldorf, Md. (Paul VI Catholic H.S. [Fairfax, Va.]) signed Wednesday. Rae Burrell, a 6-1 wing from Henderson, Nev. (Liberty H.S.) made it official by sending in her paperwork on Friday.

Burrell is Tennessee's first signee from the Silver State, while Massengill is the first Chattanooga resident to join the UT program. Collins is the third Maryland product to become a Lady Vol, while Green is the fifth from Texas and the second from Duncanville High School, the alma mater of LVFL Tamika Catchings.

Green is the highest ranked player, standing 9th by Blue Star, No. 13 by espnW HoopGurlz and No. 23 by ProspectsNation.com. She committed on Oct. 23 of this year after making Knoxville her final visit.

"She is a great basketball player," Warlick said. "She's athletic, a strong three-point shooter and penetrator to the basket. I just love her game, because she plays hard. She plays the game all out and is a great defender. Everything she does is as hard as she can go."

Massengill is next, coming in 11th by ProspectsNation.com, No. 22 by Blue Star and No. 26 by espnW HoopGurlz. She made her intention to attend UT known on Jan. 15, 2017.

"We have watched Jazmine be a great leader for her team," Warlick said. "She plays hard and really knows the game of basketball. I think she has really improved her game offensively, in terms of her ability to score. I'm excited for her, because she is a Tennessee kid, and she always wanted to play at Tennessee and represent her home state."

Collins, UT's first commitment of the group back on Dec. 7, 2016, is ranked No. 9 by ProspectsNation.com, while Blue Star and espnW HoopGurlz have her slotted at No. 50 and No. 69, respectively.

"Mimi was the first to commit to us," Warlick said. "I love Mimi's grit and her commitment to getting better. She gets in the gym all of the time. She is strong, physical and can do a lot of things because of her ability to play inside and also shoot from the outside. We're excited about her and appreciate her being the first to commit in this class."

Burrell closed out UT's four-player class, committing on Monday following a visit to campus Nov. 3-5. A player whose stock is on the rise after an impressive summer tournament showing, she is rated No. 44 by espnW HoopGurlz and No. 119 by ProspectsNation.com.

"Rae's that athlete who can go inside and get a rebound; she can stretch the floor and shoot a three," Warlick said. "She is a very intelligent player who has just continued to improve throughout her career. I think the best is still yet to come for Rae, because she gets in the gym and she constantly works at her game. She'll just continue to get better and better."

Warlick was complimentary of everyone involved with the program for their work in landing a second-consecutive strong class.

"I just appreciate the staff and their commitment to making our recruiting a priority," the sixth-year Lady Vol skipper said. "As our recruiting coordinator, I thought Sharrona did a great job of staying on top of things that we needed to do to put together a solid class.

"Our whole coaching staff – Sharrona, Dean, Bridgette - and everyone in our basketball office – Heather, managers, administrative assistants, you name it - had a hand in it. We really stayed focused and worked hard to get this group, and I just appreciate all of their tireless efforts."

MEET THE LADY VOL SIGNING CLASS

Zarielle "Zay" Green
6-0 | G | Duncanville, Texas | Duncanville H.S.
No. 9 overall by Blue Star Basketball.
No. 13 overall and No. 4 guard in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100.
No. 23 overall and No. 4 guard by ProspectsNation.com.
Five-star rating by espnW HoopGurlz and 4.5 by ProspectsNation.com.
TABC 6A All-State (2017).
UIL 6A State Championship Game MVP (2017).
Dallas Morning News Girls Basketball Player of the Year (2017).
Averaged 17.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game last season.
Participated in 2016 USA U17 World Championship Team Trials.
Participated in 2015 USA U16 World Championship Team Trials.
Attends same high school that produced Lady Vols great Tamika Catchings.

Jazmine Massengill
6-0 | PG | Chattanooga, Tenn. | Hamilton Heights Christian Academy
No. 11 overall and No. 3 point guard by ProspectsNation.com.
No. 22 overall by Blue Star Basketball
No. 26 overall and No. 6 point guard in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100.
Five-star rating by espnW HoopGurlz and ProspectsNation.com.
Named Naismith All-America Honorable Mention (2017).
Averaged 10 points, 6.9 assists, 5.8 rebounds and 2.3 steals as a junior for a program with a very talented roster of players.
Brother C.J. is a freshman on the Chattanooga men's basketball team.

Amira "Mimi" Collins
6-3 | F | Waldorf, Md. | Paul VI Catholic H.S. (Fairfax, Va.)
No. 9 overall and No. 3 forward by ProspectsNations.com.
No. 50 overall by Blue Star Basketball.
No. 69 overall and No. 14 forward in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100.
Five-star rating by ProspectsNation.com and four-star by espnW HoopGurlz.
Named Naismith All-America Honorable Mention (2017).
VISAA First-Team All-State (2017).
VISAA Second-Team All-State (2016).
Led team to Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division I state title in 2017, scoring 16 points in the title game.
Averaged 13.5 points and 8.8 rebounds as a junior on a team with several highly-touted players.
Participated in 2016 USA U17 World Championship Team Trials.
Participated in 2015 USA U16 World Championship Team Trials.
Father Derwin "Tank" Collins played at the Univ. of New Orleans, earning American South Conference Player of the Year honors after averaging 17.3 ppg. as a senior.

Rae Burrell
6-1 | G/F | Henderson, Nev. | Liberty H.S.
No. 44 overall and No. 7 wing in the espnW HoopGurlz Top 100.
No. 119 overall and No. 19 wing by ProspectsNation.com.
Five-star rating by espnW HoopGurlz and four-star by ProspectsNation.com.
USA TODAY First-Team All-Nevada (2017).
NevadaPreps.com First-Team All-State (2017).
First year at Liberty H.S. after playing previously at Foothill H.S.
First-team All-State and first-team All-Southeast League pick as a junior
Averaged 17.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.3 blocks in 2016-17.