Wolverines Sign Four to National Letters of Intent
Kim Barnes Arico

Nov. 13, 2013

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan women's basketball head coach Kim Barnes Arico announced the signing of four student-athletes to National Letters of Intent on the first day of the early signing period on Wednesday (Nov. 13). All four athletes are ranked in the top 120 of the All-Star Girls Report (ASGR) and each received at least three stars by HoopGurlz, including one four-star recruit.

Name Pos. Ht. Hometown (High School)
Maria Backman G/F 6-1 Bronx, N.Y. (Cardinal Spellman)
Jillian Dunston G/F 5-11 Germantown, Md. (Academy of the Holy Cross)
Katelynn Flaherty PG 5-7 Point Pleasant, N.J.(Point Pleasant Beach)
Emoni Jackson F 6-1 Pasadena, Calif. (Long Beach Polytechnic)

"This class has the potential be a special class, a group that makes a great impact on our program," Barnes Arico said. "The other great part about it is that they are all different but valuable in their own way. They are all 'Michigan' kids. They are great students, they are great people and they come from great families."

"I think being able to recruit to the University of Michigan and its academic reputation, as well as our tradition and pride, is what really piqued the interest of these young women. They all had great offers and could have gone to many different universities, but they picked Michigan because they believe in our vision and know they can come here to be part of something special. They want to be part of the Michigan tradition. That speaks volumes about University and what we are about. That is why we have the ability to go to anywhere in the country and get the caliber of player we have been able to get."

Katelynn Flaherty (Point Pleasant, N.J./Point Pleasant Beach) averaged 30.3 points, 5.8 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 3.5 steals as a junior at Point Pleasant, leading her team to its first-ever Group 1 state title. After playing her first two seasons at Manasquan, she transferred to Point Pleasant Beach and helped the team to one of the best single-season turnarounds ever. Point Pleasant was 4-14 in 2011-12 before Flaherty helped the team to a 26-2 record in 2012-13. Flaherty scored 30 points on 9-for-18 shooting from the floor and a 9-for-10 showing at the free throw line in the NJSIAA Group 1 final, as Point Pleasant Beach hung on for a 56-54 win over Bloomfield Tech for the state title. She is ranked as the No. 19 prospect by the ASGR, received four stars by HoopGurlz and was selected to the 2012-13 MSG All-Metro First Team.

"Katelynn is probably one of the highest ranked recruits to ever sign with Michigan," Barnes Arico said. "I have been watching her play since she has been in the seventh or eighth grade. She is just an exceptional talent. I think she is special because she does all the intangible things and has an incredible work ethic, which obviously comes from her family. She has the ability to score in multiple ways and can create her own shot. She can knock down the three; she can pull up and hit the mid-range shot, which not many kids can do anymore. She also has the ability to get to the basket. But most importantly, she has great court vision and makes the people around her better. She will be a great teammate and a great addition. She will hopefully be able to come in and have an immediate impact on the scoring end for us."

Jillian Dunston (Germantown, Md./Academy of the Holy Cross) was the first member of this class to commit to the Wolverines and ranks at No. 98 on the ASGR list. She was an honorable mention All-Washington Catholic Athletic Conference pick as a junior and averaged nearly eight points a game. She scored a season-best 15 points in her team's 71-64 win over Archbishop Carroll and 13 points twice in wins over Good Counsel and Bishop Ireton. Dunston plays AAU for the Maryland Lady Terps and was named to the all-tournament first team at this year's Deep South Classic. Dunston is a three-star recruit, according to HoopGurlz.

"Jillian is such a great asset for our program because she can play multiple positions," Barnes Arico said. "I have seen her be able to get a rebound and go coast-to-coast and make a great play or finish the play herself. She has a great handle but also has the ability to post you up. She can shoot the three effectively as well. She is a big, strong guard who can play with her back to basket or from outside the three-point arc. She can do multiple things, can rebound well and plays incredibly hard."

Emoni Jackson (Pasadena, Calif./Long Beach Polytechnic) comes in at No. 85 on the ASGR list and is a three-star recruit. As a sophomore, she averaged 16.8 points, 12.4 rebounds, 2.4 steals and 1.5 assists per game at Muir High School. She missed her junior season with an injury and will finish up her high school career at Long Beach Poly this season before coming to Ann Arbor next summer. Jackson plays AAU for the Cal Sparks, at one time teaming up with current Wolverine freshman Siera Thompson (Gardena, Calif./Serra).

"Emoni is one of the best athletes I have ever seen," Barnes Arico said. "She can jump out of the gym; she can grab rim. She has a knack for the ball and has a great motor. She runs in transition and is exceptionally long as well. She will be able to help us on the defensive end, as well as run the court and finish in transition. Her ability to rebound the basketball will be invaluable to our team."

Maria Backman (Bronx, N.Y./Cardinal Spellman) averaged 26.3 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks a game as a junior to lead her Cardinal Spellman team to its first-ever CHSAA Class A state final appearance. For her efforts as a junior, she was named the Player of the Year by the New York Daily News. She plays AAU for New Heights and was tabbed at No. 117 in the ASGR rankings. As a sophomore, she was named to the New York Post's All-Bronx team and is also a three-star recruit.

"Maria has tremendous length and that will really help us extend our defense," Barnes Arico said. "Her length and quickness will give us the ability to play aggressive, pressure defense. She is also a 6-1 wing who can shoot the three-ball exceptionally well. She runs the floor like a deer and can score in transition. Her ability to play effectively on both sides of the ball will really help us be a more versatile team."

"I feel like moving forward there are a lot of areas that we have graduated or we found we had a need for, whether that is the need for people who can score like Katelynn, rebound like Emoni, shoot like Maria or have someone who can do a combination of all those things like Jillian. The four kids we are bringing in are really highly skilled and chose the University of Michigan over some other programs, top ten programs, to come here to be among the first to hang a banner."

Michigan returns to action on Wednesday (Nov. 13), hosting Xavier at Crisler Center at 7 p.m. It is the first of four games in seven days for the Wolverines.

Contact: Sarah VanMetre (734) 763-4423

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