Tide women's hoops coach has hit the ground recruiting
by Marq Burnett
mburnett@annistonstar.com
Jul 02, 2013 | 4114 views |  0 comments | 63 63 recommendations | email to a friend | print
New Alabama women's basketball coach Kristy Curry already has signed two players. (AP file photo)
New Alabama women's basketball coach Kristy Curry already has signed two players. (AP file photo)
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It didn’t take long for new Alabama women’s basketball coach Kristy Curry to begin making her mark on the program.

After spending seven seasons at Texas Tech, Curry was hired, introduced, completed her staff and signed two recruits all within a month earlier this summer. Curry is charged with rebuilding a program that hasn’t made an appearance in the NCAA tournament since 1999.

For her first recruits, Curry landed forward Khadijah Carter, an NJCAA All-American, and guard Karyla Middlebrook, an ESPN Top 100 player.

Carter, a 6-foot-1 post player, averaged 18.5 points and 10.2 rebounds a game as a freshman at Jacksonville (Texas) College. She will have three years of eligibility at Alabama.

Middlebrook, a 5-7 point guard from Blue Springs, Mo., averaged 34.6 points a game during her senior season at Goodrich (Texas) High. Middlebrook is ranked as the No. 22 point guard and No. 81 overall player in the 2013 class by ESPN.

“We know we needed an immediate impact and some help quickly. It was really late and for us to be able to do that, but that is a credit to the coaches,” Curry said. “To grab one from Missouri and one from Texas shows that we want to keep the best in home and within a 250-mile radius, but we’re going to go where we have to go, too.”

Carter and Middlebrook will join the Tide’s five previous signees: Courtney Hunter, a 5-9 guard from Hoover; Brooksie McGraw, a 6-3 center from Gainesville, Fla.; Kara Rawls, a 6-0 forward from Hoover; Ashley Williams, a 6-0 forward from Covington, Ga.; and Sharin Rivers, a 5-3 point guard from Huntsville, who joins the team after playing two seasons at Shelton State in Tuscaloosa.

For the first time during Curry's 23-year coaching career, coaches are allowed by NCAA rules to work with players for two hours a week and can watch players workout with the strength and conditioning coach for six hours a week for a total of eight weeks. The Tide has already used four of its weeks before taking a break. The Tide will resume practice this week.

Curry has a simple message for the veteran returning players.

“Do what you’re suppose to do when you’re suppose to do it the way it’s suppose to be done, and great things are ahead of us,” Curry said. “It starts with their commitment. What you put into something is what you’re going to get back. If we can get these kids to understand that, it’s a step in the right direction.”

Now, Curry is set to hit the recruiting trail throughout July with hopes of selling female high school players on a rebuilding program. Among other things, one area of concern is the fact that top players from Alabama tend to leave the state and play college ball elsewhere. For example, the Crimson Tide hasn't signed a recruit who made the Alabama Sports Writers Association's girls basketball Super Five since 2010, when former coach Wendell Hudson signed Kaneisha Horn and Shafontaye Myers. But Curry is committed to changing this trend.

“It’s 24/7 building relationships with their coaches, families and people that are important in their lives,” Curry said. “There’s no reason in the world that the University of Alabama shouldn’t be a place that young women want to go to school and play basketball. Believe me, if they can come to Lubbock, Texas, I bet you I can get them to Tuscaloosa, Ala.”

Curry is Tide athletics director Bill Battle’s first coaching hire at the university.“I didn’t want to make a statement. I wanted to hire a good basketball coach and improve our program,” Battle said when Curry was introduced. “That’s what I think we did. We were fortunate to get somebody of Kristy’s caliber to join us here. I think she saw a great challenge and obviously she saw a great athletic department [and] a great university.”
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