Nov. 14, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State women's basketball head coach Suzy Merchant announced the signing of three National Letters of Intent today - Lexi Gussert (Crystal Falls, Mich./Forest Park), Kennedy Johnson (Galloway, N.J./ Wildwood Catholic) and Jasmine Lumpkin (Bolingbrook, Ill./Joliet Catholic). The trio will join the Spartan program starting with the 2014-15 season.
The group has been rated as high as No. 20 nationally by Blue Star Basketball.
"Lexi adds to our roster an extremely versatile and skilled player that can play numerous positions," said Merchant. "She can really shoot the ball from behind the arc, and at the same time she has a tremendous mid-range game and rim attack. She also is one of the best passers I've ever seen in our game in the last several years. She can hit the open man in full-court transition situations, as well as pick defenses apart in the quarter court. Her IQ of the game is one that is truly special. She just makes everyone around her better."
Gussert, a 6-0 guard/forward from Crystal Falls, Mich., has been a three-year starter and two-year captain for Forest Park High School and head coach Jeff Syrjanen. Entering her senior season, Gussert is already Forest Park's all-time leading scorer with 1,891 points. Also, she is 14th in Michigan high school basketball history with 169 career 3-pointers. Gussert is ranked No. 54 nationally by Blue Star Basketball.
As a junior, Gussert averaged 32.5 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 3.9 steals. She was efficient from the floor, shooting 49.3% from the field, 46.5% from behind the arc and 82.7% from the free throw line. Gussert made 93 3-pointers last season which tied for the second-most in a single season all-time in Michigan high school basketball. Meanwhile, her 809 points last season are tied for fifth-most in a single season. During the season, she set a career high with 50 points against Rapid River, which were the 10th-most points scored all-time by a Michigan high school player.
Her numbers earned her Associated Press Class D Player of the Year honors last season, while also being named first-team all-state by the Detroit Free Press and Associated Press for the second-straight season. In addition, she is a two-time winner of the Upper Peninsula Class D Player of the Year and a three-time Most Valuable Player of the Skyline Conference, among numerous other conference and league honors. She plays AAU for Midland Fastbreak and head coach Mark Juengel.
In addition to basketball, Gussert is a four-year letterwinner in volleyball and a three-year letterwinner in golf. She earned all-state honors in volleyball and was the 2012 U.P. Division Champion in golf. Off the court, she is currently ranked No. 1 in her graduating class with a 3.98 grade-point average, and was named Homecoming Queen this fall. The daughter of Scott and Kathy Gussert, she has one brother, Andrew.
"We love Kennedy's size and power that will add to the much needed depth of our post positions," said Merchant. "She can run, finish and also has a nice face-up game. She played for an extremely successful AAU organization in the Philadelphia Belles that always competes against the best players in the country, so she will definitely transition quickly to this level. She is also very familiar with the Big Ten as well, as her older brother is a football player at Penn State."
Johnson, a 6-2 forward from Galloway, N.J., was a three-year letterwinner for Sacred Heart High School, but is playing her final season at Wildwood Catholic and head coach Steve DiPatri. Johnson, who is ranked 78th nationally by Blue Star Basketball, averaged 19.6 points, 14.3 rebounds and 2.6 blocks as a junior. She led the Cape Atlantic League in scoring and rebounding, which ranked top-25 in scoring and top-10 in rebounding in the state of New Jersey. Johnson shot 56% from the field and 79% from the foul line.
At season's end, Johnson was named Daily Journal and Cumberland County Player of the Year, while earning first-team all-conference, all-league and all-area honors. She was also named team MVP. For her career, Johnson has totaled 932 points and 721 rebounds so far. She plays AAU for the Philadelphia Bellies and head coach Sean Costello.
The daughter of Austin and Tammy Johnson, she has one brother, Austin, and two sisters, Brandi and Erika. Her brother is a sophomore defensive tackle on the Penn State football team. In the classroom, she is a four-year honor roll student and a member of the National Honor Society.
"Jasmine is an athletic swing player that is great in transition and at attacking the rim," said Merchant. "She is a tremendous rebounder on both ends of the floor that will help ignite our fast break. She will also be extremely impactful on the defensive end as she is already a very good defender, and can play a number of multiple defensive schemes and full court pressure. We love her competitiveness and her toughness as well. She just knows how to win."
Lumpkin, a 6-0 guard/forward from Bolingbrook, Ill., has been a three-year letterwinner for Joliet Catholic Academy and head coach Ed Schodrof. A consensus top-75 recruit, she is ranked No. 51 by espnW's HoopGurlz, No. 52 by Dan Olson's Girls Basketball Report and No. 61 by Blue Star Basketball.
Lumpkin has led Joliet Catholic to back-to-back Class 3A state championships. As a junior, Lumpkin averaged 19 points, 13 rebounds and three assists per game, while earning first-team all-state honors from the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association and second-team accolades from the Chicago Tribune. She was also named the Media Voyager Player of the Year, while being first-team all-area and all-conference. Lumpkin plays AAU for both Mac Irvin Fire and head coach Mac Irvin, and the Bolingbrook Panthers and head coach Chris Smith.
The daughter of Jerry and Brenda Lumpkin, she has a sister, Kendra, who is a junior on the Spartan basketball team, and two brothers, Joshua and Marshawn. She has earned honor roll every session, while maintaining a 3.75 GPA. Lumpkin is also a member of the National and Spanish Honor Societies.