SAINT LEO, Fla. – Saint Leo head women’s basketball coach Chanita Olds, announced the signing of eight players for the upcoming 2009-10 season. Joining the Lions’ seven returners, are four freshmen, one sophomore transfer, a pair of junior college additions, and a senior transfer.

With the departure of six players, including three starters, Olds and the rest of the coaching staff were faced with the task of forming a new nucleus of players, while improving their depth at the same time.

Olds feels she has accomplished this assignment and has high expectations for the 2009-10 season.

The squad, after beginning the year 6-0 in 2008-09, concluded the season11-16 overall and a 2-14 Sunshine State Conference mark. Olds is now entering her fifth season at the helm for the Green & Gold and feels her team is primed and ready to make a significant push in the Sunshine State Conference.

The freshman core consists of guard Elise Clyburn, Alyssa Viscomi, De'Erika Brown and Melissa Schmidt. Chanele Patton is the lone incoming sophomore, while Brittany Carannante and GeKeela Clemmons round out the junior transfers. Willonda Windham looks to provide leadership in the middle as a senior transfer from the University of North Florida.

Elise Clyburn #12
5-5, Freshman, Point Guard
Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange HS

Clyburn spent four seasons as a varsity player at West Orange High School. Her effort on the court helped her earn an Orange County third team all-county selection during her senior campaign. Also during her tenure at West Orange, she led her squad in assists at 4.2 per game. She concluded her career averaging 8.0 points-per-game, as well as being named team captain twice. 

About Clyburn, Olds states, “She (Clyburn) brings poise and leadership at the point guard position. Her general-like personality will be the glue that will keep us together during crunch time.”

Alyssa Viscomi #1
5-7, Freshman, Guard
St. Cloud, Fla/Harmony HS

Joining Clyburn at the guard position is the freshman Viscomi. The Political Science major played four seasons at Harmony High School in St. Cloud, Fla. While there, received numerous awards and accolades including a the Hustle Award and back-to-back Best Defensive Player Honors. Her four seasons of playing also landed her on a trio of all-conference teams, including two honorable mentions and a first team nod. She closed her career averaging 10 points, four steals, two assists, and three rebounds per game.  

About Viscomi, Olds states, “Viscomi has the heart of a true Lion. She demonstrates a fearless work ethic  and will be a great addition to our team pressure defense.”

De'Erika Brown #32
5-10, Freshman, Forward
Tampa, Fla./H.B. Plant HS

The Lions front court continued to improve its depth with the addition of Brown at the forward position. A member of the Plant High School varsity squad for four seasons, Brown was named Best Defensive Player during the 2007-08 season.

Coach Olds is excited about the addition of Brown stating, “Brown handles adversity and tough situations well. She possesses the will and determination to succeed and looks to be a great asset to the Lions’ front court. She will not only add much needed size to the line-up but her strength and strong work-ethic will give the us a great spark this upcoming season.”

Melissa Schmidt #00
6-0, Freshman Forward
St. Petersburg, Fla./Boca Ciega HS

Joining Brown in the front court will be the freshman Schmidt, a Political Science major from Boca Ciega High School. During her playing career at BCHS, she helped lead her squad to four consecutive district championships and a pair of FHSSA Final Four appearances in 2008 and 2009. In addition to her team accolades, Schmidt was named Defensive Player of the Year, while earning the Most Coachable Award. She closed her high school playing career by earning the school’s Hustle Award.

About Schmidt, Olds states, “Schmidt will bring a tremendous amount of versatility to the line-up. She has great rebounding ability and ability to score from the outside. She has the potential to become one the premier inside forces in our league.”

Chanele Patton #15
5-11, Sophomore, Forward
Tampa, Fla./Indian River State College

Patton, a forward from South Bend Indiana, looks to make an immediate impact for the Greend & Gold. Prior to her one-year stint at Indian River State College, Patton was a four-year starter at Blake High School in Tampa, Fla. During her tenure, she averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds per game.

Her sophomore season brought her second team all-conference accolades before being tabbed all-conference first team her junior and senior seasons. She continued her success over to IRSC where she earned second team all-conference. During her one season, she averaged 14.5 points per game and helped lead HER Pioneers’ squad to a conference championship.

About the presence of Patton on the floor Olds stated, “Patton has been a winner and a hard worker at every level she has played. She will add to the leadership both on and off the court. As a player, Patton will be a true perimeter threat that opponents will have to contend with.”

Brittany Carannante #5
5-8, Junior, Guard
Clearwater, Fla./Clearwater HS

Carannate joins the Lions from division I competitor Stetson University. Before her two-year experience at the DI level, the guard was a four-year player at Clearwater High School. While at CHS, she was named team MVP during the 2006 and 2007 seasons. Also during the 2007 season she was selected to the 2007 all-conference first team.

While at Stetson, Carannante finished second in the nation for blocked shots for girls under 5’9”, as well as shooting 69 percent from behind the three-point line.

About Carannante, Olds stated, “She adds dominance and tenacity to our defense for the upcoming season. Also, her size, speed, and skill at the guard spot will prove difficult for each of our opponents.”

Gekeela Clemmons #22
5-9, Junior, Guard
Port St. Joe, Fla./Chipola College

Clemmons is a junior college addition from Chipola College. Prior to her junior college days, she guard was named team MVP and team captain all four years at Port St. Joe’s High School. She was also named an all-conference team member in each of her seasons while leading her team to one state tournament appearance.

At Chipola, Clemmons helped lead her squad to back-to-back Florida Community College Athletic Association State Championships, as well as a fifth-place finish in the national tournament. Clemmons exploded on the scene, averaging 14 points per game during the event, eventually earning Panhandle Conference Second Team honors.

About Clemmons Olds stated, “Clemmons brings a style of play and a winning attitude that has been missing for the Lions’ program. Her size and overall scoring ability will bring another outstanding scoring option at that small scoring spot.”

Willonda Windham #13
6-2, Senior, Center,
Thonotosassa, Fla./University of North Florida

Windham comes to the Lions as a 6-2 senior transfer from the University of North Florida. From 2006 to 2008, Windham averaged four points and three rebounds per game for the Osprey’s.

Preceding her days at the Division I level, Windham spent four years as a varsity starter at Armwood High School. She led her team to a pair of district titles while averaging a double-double for her career (15 points and 10 rebounds). She was the runner-up in the female athlete of the year category and was the leading scorer in the North vs. South All Star game.

When discussing Windham, Olds believes, “Windham brings size, experience, and an arsenal of post moves. She also possesses outstanding footwork and scoring ability, while bringing energy and overall excitement to the program.”

The newcomers, along with the rest of the Lions’ squad will get their first opportunity to display their skills on Monday, November 2nd at Central Florida Community College. Tip-off for the exhibition is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.