ELON, N.C. – Announced Thursday, May 25, Elon University women’s basketball is set to welcome six new players to the fold in 2017-18 with the additions of Ariana Nance (Mint Hill, N.C./Rocky River), Saadia Munford (Jonesboro, Ga./Jonesboro), Ariel Colón (Ocoee, Fla./Ocoee), Emily Maupin (Charlottesville, Va./The Covenant School), Jaylin Powell (Rolesville, N.C./Rolesville) and Anna Popovic (Loughborough, England/Charnwood College). The six join the reigning CAA regular season and tournament champions next season and a team that is coming off the most successful Division I season in program history.
“We’re proud to welcome the largest recruiting class we’ve brought in during our time as a coaching staff here,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “We’ve signed six talented players that will join us ahead of the upcoming 2017-18 season that represent four different states and the United Kingdom. We believe we’ve assembled a group of driven, high-character student-athletes that will help us continue to build this program and represent Elon with excellence in everything they do.”
Ariana Nance • Mint Hill, N.C. • Rocky River High School • Guard • 5-9
Notes: As a senior, Nance finished her high school career by being named the District 9 Player of the Year after averaging 22 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.7 steals per game in her final season with Rocky River. During her standout season, Nance helped guide the Ravens to a 21-8 record with a trip to the third round of the NCHSAA 4A state playoffs. To cap her senior year, Nance was also named an All-District honoree and earned Third Team All-State honors while being named Rocky River’s Team MVP for the second time in her career. As a junior in 2015-16, Nance was named a Scholar Athlete by the school. Participating in cross country as a freshman, she was named the Team MVP in her only season with the team.
Quoting Coach Smith: “Ariana is a player we had our eyes on for years. She has attended our camps since she was in middle school and we watched her grow into an incredible person and player. Her work ethic and athleticism have helped her compete at a very high level and we’re excited about her future as a member of our program.”
Saadia Munford • Jonesboro, Ga. • Jonesboro High School • Guard • 5-6
Notes: Munford had a decorated career at Jonesboro High School in earning Clayton County Player of the Year, Region 4-AAAAAA Player of the Year, First Team All-Region and All-County and First Team Atlanta Journal-Constitution All-Metro as a senior. Her standout senior year came after earning First Team All-Region, All-Metro and All-County and Second Team All-State as a junior in 2015-16. As a sophomore, Munford earned First Team All-Region and All-County with Second Team All-Metro and All-State honorable mention in her first year at Jonesboro after moving from North Atlanta High School, where she earned All-Region honorable mention as a freshman in 2013-14. Off the court, Munford was named one of the school’s Scholar Athlete recipients and finished in the top 10 percent of her class.
Quoting Coach Smith: “Saadia is a spark plug on both ends of the floor. She sets the tone with her defensive intensity and effort on the ball and she understands how to run a team on the offensive end. She has a knack for getting into the paint and making the right decisions and she’s a creative finisher around the rim. Her up-tempo game will compliment out style of play beautifully.”
Ariel Colón • Ocoee, Fla. • Ocoee High School • Guard • 5-10
Notes: Colón spent the final two years of her high school career at Ocoee, winning the All-Metro title as a senior after earning a district title and Team MVP as a junior in 2015-16. Before moving over to Ocoee, Colón spent her first two seasons at Wekiva High School in Apopka, Fla., and reached the state championship game in back-to-back seasons as a freshman and sophomore, taking the title her first year in 2014. Outside of high school basketball, Colón played AAU for Central Florida Elite. In the classroom, she was named an Honor Roll student multiple times.
Quoting Coach Smith: “Ariel gives us a long and athletic player on the wing. She’s a threat from three-point range and can create havoc on the defensive end with her length. She excels in transition and her court vision with her passing ability creates a lot of easy baskets for her teammates.”
Emily Maupin • Charlottesville, Va. • The Covenant School • Forward • 6-3
Notes: A three-sport athlete in high school, Maupin had a decorated career in both basketball and volleyball while also playing softball at The Covenant School. A three-time captain of the basketball team, Maupin earned All-Conference honors all four years of her career and was named Team MVP as a sophomore, junior and senior. Three times an All-State VISAA (Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association) D2 honoree, Maupin earned First Team honors as both a junior and senior and Second Team honors as a sophomore. In her junior year, she earned a “C. Vivian Stringer” Leadership Award from the school and picked up Daily Progress First Team All-Central Virginia honors. She finished her career as the school’s all-time leading scorer (girls and boys basketball) with 2,256 points while tallying 1,778 rebounds. Outside of her time with The Covenant School, Maupin played AAU for BWSL Richmond in 10th and 11th grades.
Quoting Coach Smith: “Emily’s length and skill set will help her contribute at both post positions for us. She’s a tall player with face-up skills inside and beyond the arc and her energy and work ethic will make an impact quickly. We’re excited to watch her continue to develop within our program.”
Jaylin Powell • Rolesville, N.C. • Rolesville High School • Forward • 5-10
Notes: From just down the road in Rolesville, N.C., Powell finished her high school career by being named an All-Greater Neuse River Conference selection for a fourth time as a senior while earning Rolesville’s Team MVP award for the third straight season. As a senior, Powell was named an NCHSAA/National Guard Scholar Athlete and earned All-District honors from the North Carolina Basketball Coaches Association. Throughout her career, Powell also earned All-Academic honors from the school in all four years and was picked to play in the East/West All-Star Game after her senior year. Away from Rolesville, Powell played AAU basketball for the Carolina All-Stars and coach Brian Norwood.
Quoting Coach Smith: “Jaylin knows our program very well. She’ll come in with a good understanding of how we play and her offensive talents will fit in seamlessly with our style of play. She gives us some versatility on the perimeter with her skillset and size and her strong frame will help her transition nicely into the physical college game.”
Anna Popovic • Loughborough, England • Charnwood College • Forward • 6-1
Notes: A member of the Charnwood College Riders playing from Krumesh Patel, Popovic spent a lot of her youth playing for her country and representing England. In her career, Popovic has been a member of the England U15, U16 and U18 teams and played as recently as 2016 for the U18 Women’s Team in the European Championships. She also played for the U16 team at the European Championships and earned a promotion to Division A along the way. Her career with England’s national teams started in 2013, when she was a member of the U13 Development Team.
Quoting Coach Smith: “Anna’s international experience will be a terrific asset to our program. She is a skilled player with size who can stretch the defense with her three-point range and dissect it with pinpoint passing. Anna has an excellent feel for the game and her high basketball IQ will help her transition into our system very well.”
Elon’s six incoming student-athletes join a team coming off the best season in program history. In 2016-17, the Phoenix won a program Division I record 27 games while claiming the CAA regular season and tournament championships in March on the way to the team’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Phoenix returns two starters from the championship team in back-to-back First Team All-CAA honoree Shay Burnett and the league’s most efficient shooter a season ago at 54.4 percent from the field, Malaya Johnson.