First-year McNeese Women’s Basketball head coach Lynn Kennedy announces signing class

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LAKE CHARLES — McNeese first year head women’s basketball coach Lynn Kennedy took his first step in rebuilding the Cowgirl program into a Southland Conference and a NCAA Tournament team it once was by officially announcing his first McNeese signing class.

“We want to win right away so I was able to use a combination of the transfer portal to get these high-level student-athletes here along with international, nation-wide, and regional connections,” said Kennedy. “I’m extremely excited about our incoming class. I tried to fit the pieces with what we have returning with what we have coming in. I think we have a great mix of returning players that will help as well as the new players we have coming in.”

The class includes four transfers and four freshmen that will join five Cowgirls from the 2020-21 squad. The class consists of size, speed, and athletic ability that will allow Kennedy and his staff to utilize his style of play. Despite being a young team, the Cowgirls will be a very experienced team.

Coming to McNeese with Kennedy from Portland State is junior guard Desirae Hansen and freshmen Kaili Chamberlin and Emerson Taylor, two players who signed with Kennedy during the early signing period while at Portland State. Kennedy will also welcome transfers Autumn Watts (New Mexico), Zuzanna Kulinska (Univ. of Colorado), Cristina Gil (Boise State) and freshmen Mireia Yespes and Taylor Wilkins. Wilkins signed with the Cowgirls during the early signing period back in November.

“We want to be a high mid-major team, we want to be competing for championships every year, and we want to go to the NCAA Tournament to win games.”

DESIRAE HANSEN
6-0, Guard, Jr.-Trf. (Portland State)
Hometown: Rainier, OR.
High School: Rainier High
Two-time All-Big Sky (2020, 2021)…Big Sky Co-Top Reserve (2018-19)…Two-time Academic All-Big Sky (2019, 2020)… became the 20th player in Portland State history to score 1,000 points…tied the Portland State school record for points in a Big Sky Tournament game (27 vs. Eastern Washington, 2020)…tied the Portland State school record for three-point field goal percent in a Big Sky Tournament game (.833, 5-of-6/2020)…ranked 13th in the Big Sky with 12.6 ppg. as a junior… ranked in the top 15 of the Big Sky in eight other categories-defensive rpg. game (8th, 5.3), free throw percentage (7th, .813), three-pointers made per game (11th, 1.8), apg. (10th, 2.9), assist-to-turnover ratio (6th, 1.4), blocks per game (9th, 0.9), steals per game (12th, 1.4) and minutes played per game (13th, 31.5)…started all 25 games and averaged 31.5 minutes per game…averaged 12.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game.

AUTUMN WATTS
6-1, Forward, So.-Trf. (Univ. of New Mexico)
Hometown: Centennial, CO.
High School: Highland Ranch High
Appeared in all 20 games for the Lobos last season (2020-21) …averaged 16.6 minutes per game, 2.6 ppg., 3.7 rpg., 0.9 apg., 0.9 spg., and 0.7 bpg …scored in 13 games… registered a career-high nine rebounds twice…credited with a career-high four assists at San Diego State and a career-high five steals against California Baptist… tallied two blocks in four games…In her first season with the Lobos (2019-20), she played in 26 games and averaged 1.5 ppg. and 1.9 rpg. and was named to the 2020 Mountain West Academic All-Conference team.

ZUZANNA KULINSKA
5-10, Guard, So.-Trf. (Colorado)
Hometown: Gdynia, Poland
High School: New York Military Academy
Played in 21 games at the University of Colorado last season… averaged 8.6 minutes per game, 2.0 ppg., 1.0 rpg., 0.5 apg…played in 16 games as a freshman, averaging 5.3 minutes per game, 0.6 ppg., 0.8 rpg., 0.2 apg…In high school she earned MVP honors in the New England Private School Athletic Conference (NEPSAC) Class E Championship, leading NYMA to a 93-34 win over Chase Collegiate School… it was NYMA’s first girl’s NEPSAC Championship in school history…also earned NEPSAC League MVP honors in her lone season at NYMA…was the NEPSAC’s top scorer in 2018 and became the first player in NYMA history to score over 550 points in one season, totaling a school-record 729 points…averaged an impressive 24.3 ppg. in 2018.

CRISTINA GIL
5-8, Guard, Fr.-Trf., (Boise State)
Hometown: Barcelona, Spain
High School/Club: Femeni Sant Andria
Played in 18 games at Boise State (2020-21)… averaged 7.8 minutes per game, 1.7 ppg., 0.7 rpg. and 0.7 apg….played club ball for Femeni Sant Andria…helped lead the Cadet team to the gold medal of the U16 Spanish Club Championship…was named MVP of the title game, scoring 18 points with eight rebounds…averaged 9.7 ppg. with the club’s U18 squad in 2018-19.

MIREIA YESPES
6-2, Guard/Forward, Fr.
Hometown: Barcelona, Spain
High School: Cirvianum De Torrello` Institute
Member of two U16 Spain Championship runners-up teams and one Catalonia Championship runners-up team… won the division as a freshman and junior and finished runner-up as a sophomore…her team is currently ranked first in the division… will play again for the Spain and Catalonia Championship again in June.

KAILI CHAMBERLIN
5-9, Guard, Fr.
Hometown: Medford, OR.
High School: South Medford High
Averaged 13.4 ppg. and 5.1 rpg. as a junior…Conference Player of The Year (2020)…Two-time All-State…two-time first team all-conference…member of the 2020 state championship team…her team has a career record of 85-5 in the last three years and went undefeated at 30-0 her junior season.

TAYLOR WILKINS
5-10, Guard/Forward, Fr.
Hometown: New Orleans, LA.
High School: Mt. Carmel High
Prepped at Mt. Carmel Academy where she was coached by her mother… averaged 23.0 ppg. and 5.0 rpg. as a senior and 14.7 ppg., 7.7 rpg., as a junior…four-year letterwinner who has helped her team to a 60-21 record and three playoff appearances entering her senior year… two-time all-district, 5A All-State, All-Metro, OTB (On the Bench Sports) 5A All-State, LGR (Louisiana Girls Rankings) Top 25, and the Clarion Herold Elite Team.

EMERSON TAYLOR
6-4, Forward, Fr.
Hometown: Perth, Australia
High School: Willetton Senior High
Played basketball and Australian Football League for Willetton Senior High School…Won back-to-back school titles in Western Australia in 2018 and 2019…Also won a title with her AFL team in 2018…Played club basketball for Cockburn Cougars (four years), the Perry Lake Hawks (four years) and the East Perth Eagles (one year)…Two-time Western Australia state team selection…Mojo league Rising Star Award recipient…Four-time Western Australia Basketball League all-star…Won a state title at the Hustle 3v3 tournament, which earned her an invitation to the national championships.

NAME POS. HT. CL.-EXP HOMETOWN/PREVIOUS SCHOOL
Desirae Hansen G 6-0 Jr.-Trf. Rainier, OR./Portland St.
Autumn Watts F 6-1 So.-Trf Centennial, CO./Univ. New Mexico
Zuzanna Kulinska G 5-10 So.-Trf. Gdynia, Poland/Univ. of Colorado
Cristina Gil G 5-8 Fr.-Trf. Barcelona, Spain/Boise State
Mireia Yespes G/F 6-2 Fr.-HS Barcelona, Spain/Cirvianum De Torrello` Institute
Kaili Chamberlin G 5-9 Fr.-HS Medford, OR./South Medford High
Taylor Wilkins G/F 5-10 Fr.-HS New Orleans, LA./Mt. Carmel High
Emerson Taylor F 6-4 Fr.-HS Perth, Australia/Willetton Sr. High

PRONUNCIATION GUIDE
DESIRAE (dez-a-ray) Hansen
ZUZANNA (zoo-zan-uh) KULINSKA (kuh-lynn-skuh)
MIREIA (muh-re-uh) YESPES (yes-pis)
KAILI (key-lee) Chamberlin

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