Class of 2017 point guard Channise Lewis committed to Maryland on Sunday, according to her Twitter account.
— Ms.4peat (@channise_3) April 23, 2017
Lewis had originally committed to Illinois, but decided to reopen her recruitment when the Fighting Illini fired former head coach Matt Bollant on March 14. When Lewis was released from her national letter of intent, she received interest from Ohio State, Purdue and Maryland, and narrowed it down to the Buckeyes and Terps before making her final decision.
“It was very a tough decision because I built a special bond with Illinois but that made me want to see what other options were out there,” Lewis said. “Once I took time to see, Maryland was the best fit for me.”
The Miami, Florida native is the 77th ranked overall player in the class of 2017 and the 16th ranked point guard, according to ESPNW’s HoopGurlz Top 100. The Terps began recruiting her at the beginning of her junior year and came back into the picture after a productive summer and a senior season in which she averaged 13.9 points and 7.2 assists per game.
“She just matured a lot over the summer,” said Kimberly Davis-Powell, Lewis’ AAU coach for the past two years at Essence Girls Basketball. “She had a lot of schools calling her. I don’t think she did anything tremendous but mature a lot in her game.”
The Terps had a need at point guard after freshman standout Destiny Slocum, along with Kiah Gillespie and Jenna Staiti, announced she would transfer from the program April 4.
“I chose Maryland because I felt the family atmosphere from the team, and to be a part of an elite program under the leadership of great coaches,” Lewis said. “What else could I have asked for?”
Those great coaches, especially head coach Brenda Frese, have brought plenty of top-rated recruits to Maryland over the years, including the No. 1 ranked class of 2016. Lewis mentioned her relationship with Frese as a reason why she chose Maryland.
“I have a great relationship with Coach Brenda, she is quite knowledgeable of the game,” Lewis said. “I believe this next four years under her leadership, I will be able to learn on and off the court as a better player and person.”
Lewis most recently competed in the Dick’s Sporting Goods High School National tournament with her Miami Country Day School team. The 5-foot-8 guard averaged 14 points and 8.5 assists over two games and led her team to the tournament title.
She now brings that ability to score and distribute the ball to a team that is losing 11.5 points and six assists per game with the loss of Slocum.
“Destiny is so very special, she really really is, and I think Channise is going to be special, just a different type of special,” said Davis-Powell, who is also the adopted mother of Terps guard Ieshia Small. “Destiny did a great job of getting everybody involved and I think Channise wants to continue that realm of it. I think she’s really going to get people who normally don’t score more involved in scoring. Destiny could just turn it on at the drop of a dime, and it was turned on. I think [Lewis] will be able to do those types of things [too].”
The comparisons to Slocum could be unavoidable for Lewis in her first season, but she is just focused on coming to Maryland and immediately helping a team that has National Championship aspirations every year.
“I feel honored to be a part of such a great women’s basketball program,” Lewis said. “I am hoping to continue the legacy with championships.”
With Lewis now on the roster, head coach Brenda Frese has four roster spots to fill after the three transfers left the program in April. Frese could dip into the transfer market and look specifically for a post player to help replace the production left behind by Gillespie, Staiti and first-round draft pick Brionna Jones.
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