MARQUETTE, Mich. – Troy Mattson, the head women’s basketball coach at Northern Michigan University, announces three transfers and one high school senior have signed a National Letter of Intent to attend NMU and play basketball for the Wildcats. Joining the program are transfers Mariah Dunham from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Staci Beckel and Elicia Derusha from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. High schooler Ali Nellis is also set to join the ‘Cats.
Dunham, a 6-1 forward from Watertown, Wis., appeared in 20 games for the Badgers during the 2008-09 season, starting 13. She averaged 9.2 points and 4.5 rebounds a game. Dunham’s best season in Madison was her freshman campaign as she appeared in 36 games, starting 14, averaged 8.0 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. For her Badger career she averaged a little over seven points and four rebounds a game as she appeared in 85 games and starting 34. During her high school career at Watertown High School she was the 2006 Associated Press Player of the Year. Dunham was a three-time first-team all-state selection and the Little Ten Conference Player of the Year three times. She will have one year of eligibility.
“Mariah will be a difference maker at this level. She is a great athlete with great basketball ability. It will be a pleasure to coach someone of this talent level,” said Mattson.
Beckel, a 6-0 forward from Waseca, Minn., appeared in 12 games for the Phoenix during the 2008-09 season. She appeared in 32 games during her two years on the UW-GB women’s basketball team. During her high school career at Waseca High School she was a three-time all-conference and all-area selection. As a senior Beckel was an honorable mention all-state pick. Beckel was also a two-time all-state selection in track and field as she qualified in the long jump and was a fifth-place finisher in the 100-meter hurdles at the Minnesota State High School League Class AA Championships as a senior. She will have two years of eligibility.
“Staci is very athletic with length and speed. She has the ability to score from the outside and also take the ball to the basket,” said Mattson. “She will be a major factor in helping our team get to the next level of play.”
Derusha, a 5-10 guard from Engadine, Mich., appeared in 11 games in her only season at UW-GB. She redshirted the 2007-08 season and will have three years of eligibility. Derusha was a unanimous selection to the 2006 Associated Press Class D all-state first-team. She scored over 1,700 points for Engadine High School as she averaged 21.0 points, 12.4 rebounds and 2.6 steals a game as a senior. Derusha was a three-time Eastern Upper Peninsula Conference Player of the Year during her high school career.
“Elicia is well known throughout the U.P. for her basketball ability. She will add size, scoring ability and toughness to our guard position,” said Mattson.
Nellis, a 6-2 forward/center from Waupaca, Wis., signed her letter during the early signing period in the fall. Her senior season was cut short due to a knee injury in January. Nellis played in 16 games during her senior campaign and averaged 8.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. She plans to participate in track at NMU as she advanced to the state meet in the long and triple jumps during her junior year of high school.
“Ali is a very good athlete with length. We are looking forward to her recovery from surgery, so we can begin her development towards becoming a good basketball player at NMU,” said Mattson. “She has all the qualities to be successful at this level, toughness, athleticism and length.”
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