April 1, 2014
CHICAGO -- For the third-straight season, the Tennessee women's basketball program is being represented by a pair of signees competing in the McDonald's All-American Game.
Alexa Middleton of Murfreesboro, Tenn., will wear No. 23 for the East, and Jaime Nared of Portland, Ore., will don No. 30 for the West, as the 13th-annual girls game is contested Wednesday night at the home of the Chicago Bulls, the United Center. Tip is 7 p.m. Eastern/6 Central on ESPNU.
Current UT freshmen Mercedes Russell and Jordan Reynolds played for the victorious West squad in 2013, with Russell collecting the game's MVP honors. The addition of Middleton and Nared to the Big Orange roster next season will give head coach Holly Warlick seven McDonald's All-Americans in a 13-player lineup that also includes 6-1 wing signee Kortney Dunbar of Edwardsville, Ill. (Edwardsville H.S.), a MAAG nominee from her state.
Middleton, a 5-foot-9 guard from Riverdale High School, already turned heads in Chicago on Monday night, becoming the first player in the history of the event to win both the three-point shootout and the skills competition.
In the skills competition, Middleton successfully made every pass and the jump shot on her first attempt to finish the course in 27.9 seconds. She won by 4.3 seconds over Duke signee Sierra Calhoun.
The TSSAA Class AAA Miss Basketball winner and nation's No. 28 player according to espnW HoopGurlz, Middleton then won the three-point shooting competition over UCLA signee Recee' Caldwell and Texas signee Brooke McCarty. Middleton drained nine treys in a row at one point during the shootout.
Besides the four players previously mentioned as McDonald's All-Americans, Cierra Burdick, Bashaara Graves and Ariel Massengale are veterans of the game. Tennessee's departing senior, Meighan Simmons, also played in the contest prior to coming to Rocky Top.
Including the newest participants, Tennessee has had 25 all-time McDonald's All-Americans.