BY WALTER VILLA – Courtesy of The Miami Herald
Baylor University, which earned national titles in 2005 and 2012 and is currently ranked eighth in the nation, won an intense recruiting battle for Miami High girls’ basketball star Beatrice Mompremier, who announced her selection on Tuesday.
Mompremier, a 6-4 senior power forward and the state’s reigning Gatorade Player of the Year, signed with Baylor over Tennessee, another national powerhouse that is currently ranked fourth and last season led the country in attendance, averaging more than 11,000 fans per game.
Also in Mompremier’s final five were Miami, North Carolina and Ohio State, but she eliminated those three schools from consideration on Sunday, opting to play for Baylor coach Kim Mulkey.
“I liked the coach,” said Mompremier, who played for Team USA’s U-18 national team last summer. “[Mulkey] doesn’t sugarcoat anything.”
Mompremier said it was so tough saying no to Miami that she had her high school coach, Sam Baumgarten, make the call.
“I felt bad,” she said.
Mompremier, who is ranked the No. 42 player in the nation by ESPN, is part of an exceptional Baylor recruiting class that includes 6-5 Louisiana center Kalani Brown, the daughter of former Miami Heat standout P.J. Brown.
“It was important for Bea to go to a team that had a true center [such as Brown],” Baumgarten said. “Bea prefers to play power forward.”
Mompremier averaged 15 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks last season, leading Miami High to its first state title since 2005.
Despite graduating four starters last season, Miami High is off to a 2-0 start. Mompremier has been dominant, averaging 29 points, 13 rebounds, five steals and three blocks.
Baumgarten has used Mompremier at the top of Miami High’s lethal press, and her length has resulted in numerous turnovers and easy buckets.
“Our pressure is relentless,” Baumgarten said.
Baumgarten believes his team has the potential to make another run at state, thanks to the play of Mompremier, 5-3 junior point guard Andrisa Sweeting and 5-11 senior wing Annette Dukes, a great leaper and one of the top prospects in the county.
Destiny Weldon, a 6-0 sophomore forward who was slowed by a concussion last season, is back and could be poised for a breakout season. And Miami High added 5-7 junior guard Alondra Angulo, a talented transfer from Mater Academy.
It all starts with Mompremier, who is regarded as the best post player to come out of Miami since Sylvia Fowles, who is now a WNBA star for the Chicago Sky.
“The toughest thing for Bea was taking Miami off her list,” said Baumgarten. “She built a good relationship with one of their assistant coaches, Octavia Blue.
“Bea is a good-hearted kid. She’s sad to disappoint people. But she is going to get an opportunity to play for a national title at Baylor.”