LSU’s Mulkey adds five new players in first recruiting class

PHOTO BY: JONATHAN MAILHES

On her first signing day as LSU’s women’s basketball coach, Kim Mulkey signed a class of four players plus a local walk-on that will be able to make immediate impacts.

The class includes the nation’s No. 26 player in guard Flaujae Johnson (Marietta, Ga.), the nation’s top junior college transfer in Last-Tear Poa (Melbourne, Australia), the nation’s No. 57 player in forward Sa’Myah Smith (Desoto, Tx.) and the guard/forward combo Alisa Williams (Little Elm, Texas).

Smith and Williams are ranked as the No. 1 and No. 4 players, respectively, in the Dallas area by Dallas Morning News.

LSU will also add Izzy Besselman of Baton Rouge’s Episcopal High School as a walk-on.

“Flaujae is a guard who can play any perimeter position at a high level,” Mulkey said. “She handles the ball exceptionally well and she couples that with great court vision as well as having the ability to shoot the three. She has a tremendous work ethic and will be a great guard for us. Flaujae has a tremendous passion for the game of basketball and we can’t wait to get her on the court inside the PMAC.”

Johnson, who is 5-foot-10, is ESPN’s HoopGurlz No. 6 guard in the country and the Marietta, Ga. native can be an offensive weapon that can score with the ability to create for herself and hit pull-up jumpers. In April, she was named to the Georgia Class 6A first team by the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Not only does Johnson excel on the court, but off the court as well as rap artist. When she was 12, Johnson appeared on the Rap Game television series and then two years later reached the quarterfinals of America’s Got Talent. She has nearly one-million followers across all social media platforms.

The 6-4 Smith, the nation’s No. 57 overall player, is a lengthy forward that’s an exceptional rebounder. The top player on a DeSoto High School team loaded with DI talent, Smith led her team to its first women’s basketball state championship last season. During the state championship run, Smith averaged 13 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocks and 3 assists per game. She was the MVP of the Class 6A State Championship game, putting up 10 points and grabbing 14 rebounds.

“Sa’Myah is a faceup-4 player who has the ability to extend her game to the perimeter,” Mulkey said. “She is one of the top players in the state of Texas and I have been watching her since she was in eighth grade. We have built our relationship over the years and think she can develop into a great player.”

Williams is a 6-2, left-handed guard out of Braswell High School in Texas. During her junior season Williams was the Record-Chronicle’s all-area offensive player of the year after averaging 18.5 points to go along with seven rebounds per game. Following her sophomore season, she was named to the Texas Girls Coaches Association Class 5A All-State team and helped her team to a share of its first district title.

“Alisa is a big guard who is a left-handed shooter with great size and versatility,” Mulkey said. “One of the most impressive things about Alisa is her basketball IQ. That alone will allow her to be successful. Her basketball IQ, coupled with her skills, just means that she has a great upside with a tall ceiling for success.”

Poa, from Melbourne, Australia is coming to LSU from Northwest Florida State College as the top JUCO transfer in the class. As a freshman, the 5-11 forward led the Raiders to the NJCAA National Championship, earning NJCAA Tournament MVP honors. During the championship season, Poa averaged 23.0 points per 40 minutes played. She shot 44.9-percent from the field and 43.5-percent from beyond the arc.

“Poa just brings excitement to the floor,” Mullkey said. “When the ball is in her hands, something good will happen. She is a big guard who can distribute it around the floor, and she has tremendous ball handling skills. Her game has a little bit of Diana Taurasi in it and Tiger fans are going to enjoy seeing her play.”

The 5-10 Besselman, also a standout volleyball player, helped Episcopal to the District 8-2A tournament championship last season when she poured in 26 points. She was named the District 8-2A MVP for the 2019-20 season and was on the All-Metro team.

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