UT MARTIN WOMEN'S HOOPS ADD SIX TO EARLY SIGNING CLASS
November 9, 2016
MARTIN, Tenn. – Fresh off the team’s third consecutive Ohio Valley Conference championship and sixth straight postseason appearance, the University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team announced the addition of six players to the program on the first day of the early signing period. The Skyhawks have announced the signing of Demi Burdick (Marshall, Ill.), Damiah Griffin (Memphis, Tenn.), Zaire Hicks (Memphis, Tenn.), Chelsey Perry (Middleton, Tenn.), Paige Pipkin (Henderson, Tenn.) and Maddie Waldrop (Murray, Ky.) to national letters of intent.
“With the six signees, this quite possibly could be the best signing class that we have ever had, only rivaling our 2010 class which featured Heather Butler, Jasmine Newsome, Megan White and four championships,” said UT Martin head coach Kevin McMillan. “This class could possibly make the same statement for us because there is a little bit of everything in it. There is guard play, size, athleticism and they all come from winners. They know how to win and the sacrifices that have to be made to be successful. The balance they provide will make it hard for our opponents to matchup with and I look forward to what they can do during their careers.”
Demi Burdick - F, 6-2, Fr., Marshall, Ill. (Marshall HS)
Burdick is a 6-2 forward from Marshall High School where she played for head coach Kathy Miller, helping lead the Lady Lions to a 21-6 record. Burdick celebrated a strong junior campaign where she averaged a double-double with 16.9 points and 12.2 rebounds while tallying 4.0 blocks, 2.2 steals and 1.0 assists per game. She broke the school’s single-season rebound record as a junior with 329 while earning all-conference and all-state honors. Burdick helped lead the Lady Lions to the team’s fifth consecutive Little Illini Conference championship in 2015-16. She nearly averaged a double-double as a sophomore as well, tallying 10.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, 5.0 blocks, 3.9 steals and 2.7 assists per game.
“Demi is a really, really unbelievable athlete,” said McMillan. “She also plays volleyball and can really get up around the rim. She’s very versatile, averaged a double-double and is a great rebounder. She has a college-ready body right now and I think she is one that can make an immediate impact because of her athleticism.”
Damiah Griffin – G/F, 6-0, Fr., Memphis, Tenn. (White Station HS)
Griffin is a 6-0 forward from White Station High School where she plays for head coach Tommy Warren while helping lead the Lady Spartans to a 23-8 record. Griffin posted a strong junior campaign, averaging 16.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. She showed her versatility and maximum effort against then No. 1 ranked Central High School, proving to be a matchup problem before ultimately knocking off the top ranked program. She also tallied a career-high 39-point performance during the season en route to being named to the AAA Commercial Appeal Best of Preps team.
“Damiah is long, lanky and has played in the travel circuit with Team Penny and has had a good career there,” said McMillan. “She has played against some of the best in the country and athletically, she can complete with all of them. She can move inside and out, loves the high post and is a great jump shooter. She is a great rebounder that can play multiple positions on the floor.”
Zaire Hicks – G, 5-9, Fr., Memphis, Tenn. (White Station HS)
Hicks is a 5-9 guard from White Station High School where she transferred after playing at Memphis Metro Homeschool for head coach AW Massey where she helped lead the squad to a 31-7 record. Hicks averaged 16.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.9 steals and 3.7 assists per game as a junior. She was named the 2015-16 Christian Homeschool Basketball National Junior Defensive Player of the Year while earning first team all-region and all-tournament honors along with Regional Defensive Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year awards. She scored a season-best 30 points along with seven rebounds against New Way Christian Academy.
“Hicks may be the steal of the state,” said McMillan. “She has the ability to play on the ball at the point guard but can also play off the ball because she shoots so well. She does a lot of things well. She rebounds, gets steals and sees the floor well enough to create shots for everyone else. She’s the one we think will be the glue of the group, fitting in whatever spot we need her. She’s a great kid with a point guard’s mentality of helping out her teammates.”
Chelsey Perry – F, 6-2, Fr., Middleton, Tenn. (Middleton HS)
Perry is a 6-2 forward from Middleton High School where she plays for head coach James Burkley while helping lead the Lady Tigers to a 32-1 record and a berth in the state semifinals. Perry averaged a double-double with 12.5 points and 11.7 rebounds while tallying 2.9 steals, 2.6 blocks and 2.0 assists per game. She was a TSWA Class A all-state honoree as a junior and heads into her senior season as a Jackson Sun Super Senior. During her sophomore season she averaged 9.0 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while leading her team to a 35-0 record and a state championship where she was named most valuable player. During her career, the Lady Tigers strung together a 67-game winning streak.
“Chelsey is an extremely skilled, athletic player coming out of Middleton where they have won a lot of games,” said McMillan. “She can play multiple positions, go inside and post you up, stretch you out and shoot a three or take you off the dribble. She can be an absolute matchup nightmare. Her versatility on both sides of the ball can create so many options for us, especially coming from a 6-2 kid.”
Paige Pipkin – G, 5-10, Fr. Henderson, Tenn. (Chester County HS)
Pipkin is a 5-10 guard from Chester County High School where she plays for her mother Lee Pipkin while helping lead the Eaglettes to a 21-12 record and the Region 7-AA semifinals. Pipkin averaged 21.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.7 steals and 3.5 assists last season en route to being named to the All-West Tennessee first team. She was a TSWA Class AA all-state honoree as a junior and heads into her senior season as a Jackson Sun Super Senior. Pipkin excelled in more than just basketball, also playing softball, volleyball and soccer – where she was also an all-state performer. Her UT Martin ties date back to grandfather Julian Nunamaker who is in the Athletics Hall of Fame for his decorated football career.
“Paige is a long, athletic scorer,” said McMillan. “She knows how to score. She is a solid three-pointer shooter that can create her own shot and even had to play a little point in high school which has helped her game really develop into a better ball handler. She knows how to compete coming out of West Tennessee and knows what basketball around here is like. I really look forward to watching her grow.”
Maddie Waldrop – F, 6-2, Fr., Murray, Ky. (Murray HS)
Waldrop is a 6-2 forward from Murray High School where she plays for head coach Rechelle Turner while leading the Lady Tigers to a school-record 35-2 mark. Waldrop averaged 14.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per games as a junior en route to an Associate Press all-state selection. The Lady Tigers tallied the All “A” Classic state championship in January before reaching the final four of the Kentucky state tournament. Murray advanced to the KHSAA state semifinals. She was also named WPSD Female Athlete of the Year during her junior campaign and to the 2016 Herald-Leader All-State team.
“Maddie is another versatile, long, 6-2 player that can play at different spots on the floor,” said McMillan. “She’s had a great career up at Murray and knows how to win. She’s a great high-post player that can shoot it but also knows how to attack the rim. We are looking for her to be another one of those players that can play about three or four different positions.”
“I would say that versatility and balance would be the theme of this crew,” McMillan said of the class as a whole. “I don’t know where they will all play but the thing I love about them is that they are winners and come from great programs. They come from competitive environments and are really excited about being teammates here. Some of these players have been committed since they were sophomores and collectively we look for them to have great careers. I am excited to see how they finish their senior years and hopefully we can get a couple state championships out of them before they join our program and continue what we have built.”