K-State Women's Basketball Signs Five to NLIs

Head coach Deb Patterson signed five players to NLIs for the 2012-13 season during the early signing period.

Nov. 17, 2011

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State head women’s basketball coach Deb Patterson announced on Thursday the signing of five players to National Letters of Intent during the early signing period from Nov. 9-17. This is the largest class head coach Deb Patterson has signed since the class of 2000.

The five new additions to the K-State roster in the 2012-13 season are: guards Brianna Craig, Marissa Ellis and Kelly Thomson and forwards Ashlynn Knoll and Stacey Malone. Craig, Ellis, Malone and Thomson all join the Wildcats from the high school ranks, while Knoll will enter as a junior from Seward County Community College.

“We are very excited to announce the signing of five tremendous student-athletes to our program,” said Patterson of her new charges. “Marissa Ellis, Brianna Craig, Stacey Malone, Kelly Thomson, and Ashlynn Knoll exemplify the quality of character and academic excellence that K-State women’s basketball is all about. I am confident that these five new players will continue the tradition that we’ve established here of an unwavering work ethic, competitive spirit and a selfless attitude.”

Craig is a 5-10 guard from Lincoln, Neb., and will enter her senior season at Lincoln Northeast High as a Sporting News High School All-America honorable mention selection. In her three previous seasons with the Rockets, Craig has amassed 861 career points (16.2 points per game) and 233 career rebounds (4.4 rebounds per game). While leading Lincoln Northeast to consecutive district runner-up finishes in 2010 and 2011, Craig collected first team Super State honors in 2011, second team All-State honors in 2010, a pair of All-Heartland Conference honors and a trio of All-City first team citations.

In addition to lettering three years in basketball, Craig has also lettered twice in track. She was a state qualifier in the 4x100 in 2009 and 2010, while also qualifying in the 4x400 in 2009.

Craig comes from an extremely athletic family, as her mother, the former Terri Parriott, played for the Nebraska women’s basketball team in the early 1980s. Her father, Curtis, was a member of the Nebraska football team in the mid 1970s. Her uncle, Roger, was a standout running back at Nebraska who went on to become an NFL All-Pro performer and helped the San Francisco 49ers win three Super Bowls.

Ellis is a 5-7 guard from Kansas City, Mo., and is rated the No. 24 guard in the nation by ESPN Hoopgurlz heading towards her senior season. The Staley High product helped guide the program to a sectional title in 2011 and a pair of district crowns in 2009 and 2011.

Along with her two letters in girls’ basketball, Ellis has garnered a letter in track in 2009 and a letter in softball in 2010. In track, Ellis helped Staley to a conference title while qualifying for the district meet in the 100-, 200- and 4x400-meter runs.

Thomson joins K-State as a local product from Riley County High in Riley, Kansas. The 5-10 guard begins her senior season as a Sporting News High School All-America honorable mention selection with just over 800 career points to rank sixth in school history and has tallied a school-record 110 three-point field goals made.

In her junior season, Thomson averaged 15.4 points which included 56 connections from the 3-point line. She also pulled in and 5.1 rebounds and dished out 3.1 assists while helping Riley County to a 21-3 record. Following her junior campaign, Thomson was named to the All-State Class 3A first team, the first team of the All-Mid-East League, the Flint Hills Player of the Year and the All-Flint Hills team Year by the Manhattan Mercury.

In her sophomore season, she recorded 12.9 points per game and 2.6 rebounds while helping the Falcons to a sub-state title. Thomson was named as an honorable mention choice for the All-State Class 3A team, a first team choice for the All-Mid-East League and garnered All-Flint Hills team honors from the Manhattan Mercury.

In addition to her basketball achievements, Thomson has earned letters in both cross country and track and is an outstanding student who is a Kansas Honors Scholar. In her track career, Thomson was a two-time qualifier for the Kansas Relays in the 4x400 and a two-time state qualifier in the 4x400 and the 4x800. She also finished third at the state meet in 2010 in the 800-meter run and qualified for state in 2009 in the triple jump. In cross country, Thomson earned All-State Class 3A honors in 2008.   

“Marissa, Briana, and Kelly can all shoot the three and will also be able to put good pressure on the rim early in their careers,” stated Patterson about the three guard signees.

Knoll, who will be a junior for the Wildcats in the 2012-13 season, is a 5-11 forward who joins K-State from Seward County Community College in Liberal, Kan. Knoll, originally from Canyon, Texas, finished her freshman season in 2011 as a WBCA All-American honorable mention recipient, a second team All-Region VI selection and was named to the Jayhawk West All-Conference first team with averages of 12.1 points and 6.9 rebounds.

In Knoll’s senior season at Happy High in Happy, Texas, she registered 19 points, 8.3 rebounds and four steals per game as she was named the 2010 6-man Player of the Year and a member of the 2010 Texas Association of Basketball Coaches All-State squad. In her high school career with the Cowgirls, Knoll was a three-time All-State and All-District selection including first team honors in 2010. Knoll is also a solid student, earning Academic All-State honors twice and a member of the National Honor Society in her last three years.

Malone will begin her senior season at Robert E. Lee High in Tyler, Texas, as a Sporting News High School All-America honorable mention selection and the No. 24 ranked forward in the nation by ESPN Hoopgurlz. The 6-1 forward averaged 9.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game while helping the Raiders to a 24-9 record in 2011. Malone is also a strong student, earning Academic All-District and Academic All-State honors in 2011.

“We will count on Stacey Malone and Ashlynn Knoll to come in and immediately work to fill the big shoes of our 2012 post seniors, Branshea Brown and Jalana Childs,” Patterson said of her two new low-post options. “These two undersized posts each bring a blue collar work ethic and both are willing to fight the physical battles required in the paint and around the rim.”

Kansas State will conclude a three-game home stand on Friday night, as the Wildcats will host Missouri State at 7 p.m. For ticket information, visit www.kstatesports.com/tickets or call (800) 221-CATS.