Aston becoming creative with recruiting


Despite an 0-5 start to Big 12 play in her first year as Texas head coach, Karen Aston is still proving to be an excellent recruiter.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

With the departure of Cokie Reed and Chelsea Bass from the roster because of health concerns, head coach Karen Aston will have some pretty big shoes to fill through her recruiting efforts. 

However, in her short time at Texas, Aston has already resorted to methods different from those of her predecessor in order to fill holes on the bench. Not only has she signed several junior college recruits since her hiring, but she has also dipped into the various talent pools within Texas’ athletic system. 

So far this season, Aston has acquired talent from two other teams within the University. At the start of the season, senior Nadia Taylor, formerly a third baseman who played four years of softball for head coach Connie Clark at Texas, joined the team to take advantage of her final year of eligibility. 

“As a fifth-year student athlete, she has been able to help the young players adapt to Texas and understand what it means to be a part of the Texas legacy,” Aston said.

Although she has seen limited action so far, Taylor’s presence on the bench provides needed depth. Aston also praised Taylor for the leadership skills she brings to the court. 

Aston also added freshman Sara Hattis in December, a member of the national championship-winning volleyball squad under the direction of head coach Jerritt Elliott. At the end of the basketball season, Hattis will return to the volleyball team. 

As a senior at Cleveland High in Rio Rancho, N.M., Hattis was a heavily recruited volleyball and basketball prospect. After sifting through many scholarship efforts from both volleyball and basketball coaches, Hattis decided to play volleyball at Texas. 

At the start of her career on the 40 Acres, Hattis was unsure of her participation in basketball, but decided to join up after the volleyball season ended. 

By adding Hattis, Aston filled another hole. Besides freshman Imani McGee-Stafford, the Longhorns are fielding a relatively average-sized team. Hattis brings a 6-foot-4-inch frame to the court with an impressive jumping ability. She can reach a height of 10 feet one inch on a vertical jump and can dunk a tennis ball. Her goal by the end of training is to reach a vertical of around 10 feet 7 inches and dunk a basketball. 

“Anytime you can welcome someone to your team with an inherent sense of Texas pride, it’s a plus,” Aston said. 

Aston and her staff also welcomed two college transfers to help fill out the bench. 

GiGi Mazionyte, from Weatherford College, and Ashley Roberts, from South Plains College, were added this past May to the Longhorn roster. Gail Goestenkors, who stepped down as head coach after last season, didn’t seek junior college transfers. The last junior college player to transfer to Texas did so in 2004.

“These young ladies possess a terrific combination of athletic ability and commitment to excellence in the classroom,” Aston said. “They are going to be great ambassadors for Texas women’s basketball.”  

Maziontye was recruited based on her versatility and experience as a forward. Because she has played both at the collegiate level at Weatherford and as a member of the Lithuania national team, Aston hopes her addition will help mature the young Texas roster, especially through the rigorous conference schedule. 

Roberts filled a need as guard for the Longhorns and provided a necessary backcourt presence. She has a proven ability to score, another needed quality for the Longhorns. 

While at Texas, Aston has begun to fill the holes in the Texas roster and provide the Longhorns with the talent needed to make it to the
next level.