Missouri women’s basketball lands its top target in five-star Blackwell

ESPN ranks the Whitfield High senior the No. 8 overall 2019 recruit.
Photo via Twitter/@AijhaAnniece Twitter

A major recruiting week for MU sports is off to a winning start.

Five-star 2019 recruit Aijha Blackwell committed to the Missouri women’s basketball team on Monday night, choosing Robin Pingeton’s Tigers over Louisville and Kansas. Blackwell, a 6-foot guard, is ranked the No. 8 overall 2019 recruit in the country by ESPN. Her highly anticipated decision was announced at 6 p.m. Monday via Twitter.

Blackwell joins Strafford High’s Hayley Frank as the two five-star recruits to commit to Missouri for next season.

The St. Louis area product averaged 24.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game last season in her junior campaign at Whitfield High. Whitfield coach Michael Slater emphasized that Missouri is getting a player who is capable of all five positions on the floor.

“You don’t come across many 6-foot guards that can do the things that Aijha does, certainly not at the high school level,” Slater said. “She’s just so versatile that we can use her in a variety of ways in order to make our team successful.“

Blackwell played for the United States U18 national team over the summer, helping the team win a FIBA Americas Championship. During the tournament, she started in four of six games for the U.S.

Blackwell shot 26.4 percent from three-point range her freshman year at Whitfield but has increased that percentage each year, reaching a 40 percent mark as a junior last season. She helped lead her team to the state semifinals last year, where it ultimately placed third. Whitfield has won the district championship in each of Blackwell’s first three years there.

Blackwell is the daughter of former Missouri football standout running back Ernest Blackwell, who died at 29. Aijha was 3 years old at the time. In her commitment video, she wore a Missouri football jersey with No. 33 on the back, her late father’s number.

Speculation circled regarding whether she wanted to continue the family legacy and pursue her collegiate career at Missouri, but sources indicated in the days leading up to Blackwell’s announcement that Missouri and Louisville were the two serious contenders out of her final three, which also included Kansas.

“For as prolific a scorer as she is, she’s extremely unselfish,” Slater said. “She’s constantly looking to set up another teammate to score. She is constantly encouraging her teammates and really wants everyone around her to be better.”

Edited by Bennett Durando | bdurando@themaneater.com

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