Thursday, April 03, 2014

UT Signee's 15 Leads West to McDonald's Win

The Tennessee women's basketball program had a pair of future players in action Wednesday night in the McDonald's All America Game at the United Center, and both made plays to help their teams.

After Alexa Middleton starred on Monday night by winning the skills competition and three-point shootout at the Powerade Jam Fest, Jaime Nared stepped into the spotlight on Wednesday by leading the West to victory over Middleton's East squad, 80-78.

Nared, a 6-foot-1 wing who hails from Westview High School in Portland, Ore., followed in the footsteps of her future Lady Vol teammates and fellow Oregonians Mercedes Russell (Springfield H.S.) and Jordan Reynolds (Portland Central Catholic H.S.). For the night, Nared (pronounced Nard) scored a team-leading 15 points in 17 minutes and finished six-of-11 from the field, went three-of-three from the charity stripe and snared four rebounds.

A year ago, Russell earned game MVP honors with 16 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks, while Reynolds contributed 10 points, 11 boards, three assists and a steal in the West's victory.

Middleton, a 5-9 guard from Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Riverdale H.S.) became the first McDonald's All-American to win two events in the Powerade Jam Fest. Two days later, she capped a 16-4 run for the East by draining a three-pointer from the left wing to lift her team into the lead, 37-36, during the first half after trailing 32-25 at one point. She finished with three points, five assists and four rebounds in 20 minutes of action.

Tennessee expects to open the 2014-15 campaign with no fewer than seven McDonald's All-Americans on its roster. In addition to Middleton, Nared, Reynolds and Russell, the Lady Vols also have Cierra Burdick, Bashaara Graves and Ariel Massengale returning. UT's third fall 2013 signee, 6-1 wing Kortney Dunbar from Edwardsville, Ill., was a McDonald's nominee for her state and will be playing in the first-ever SchollyMe All-World Game along with Middleton on April 19 in Irvine, Calif.

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