Spring signing for women's basketball begins

FAYETTEVILLE – Australian 6-3 forward Skye Rees becomes the first signee of the spring National Letter of Intent period for the University of Arkansas women’s basketball team, head coach Tom Collen announced on Monday.

“Skye is a very important piece to the puzzle as we look at the big picture of building our program,” Collen said.

The 6-3 junior college transfer from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M immediately becomes one of the tallest players on the Razorback roster, and with the graduation of senior post player Whitney Jones adds an experienced player to the Arkansas inside game.

Rees joins fall freshmen signees 6-3 forward Sarah Watkins of Germantown, Tenn., and 6-3 low post player Darshea Burnside of San Bernadino, Calif.

A native of Australia, Rees attended Chario Christian High School in Drouin and was a top player in the Australian youth basketball system.

“We have worked very hard to build our relationships in Australia, and we hope that Skye is only the first of several Aussies to join us here in Arkansas,” Collen said.

A mobile player in the high post with strong three-point shooting skills, Collen is excited about the added dimension to Arkansas’ offense Rees can provide for next season.

“We played all of last season without a natural ‘4’ player, so it’s nice to be heading into the summer with a player at that position,” Collen said. “She is a very good three-point shooter and has pretty good passing skills for a post player.”

Arkansas went 18-14 last season, advancing to the Women’s NIT round of 16 with 5-10 senior Ayana Brereton handling the high post.

“Like so many of the Australian players, Skye is extremely skilled, especially at the high post,” Collen said. “Ayana did a great job for us last season, but she was battling against much larger players, particularly in the SEC, all year. At 6-3, Skye gives us that SEC caliber size we need.”

She played all 33 games last season for the Lady Norse, averaging 16.9 ppg and 6 rpg as NEO went 24-9. Rees hit 49% from the field and 78% from the line for coach Jim Rowland. Rees was named to the first-team Bi-State East squad as the Lady Norse went 46-16 in her two years at Northeastern A&M.

She poured in a JUCO career-high 30 points against Northern Oklahoma-Enid this past season. As a freshman, Rees averaged 9.5 ppg and 7.8 rpg in 29 games.

A 3.5 student in kinesiology, Rees earned Dean’s Honor and Phi Theta Kappa academic honors at NEO.

“Skye is an excellent student,” Collen said.

Back home in Drouin, Australia, Rees played prep basketball in the southern state of Victoria from 2003 to 2007. She was a member of the Victoria Under 20 team that won the national tournament in 2007. She also played for the Dandenong Rangers’ amateur youth squad, Victoria Country and in the Nunawading leagues. She was the top scorer for the Rangers in 2007, hitting 12.8 ppg the year before she enrolled at Northeastern A&M.

Rees also played for Vic Country in the U18 Australian National Junior Championships, with a highlight game of a 12 point-11 rebound double in the final rounds of the national tournament. She was among the top rebounders at the 2006 national juniors. Rees was in the Australian junior camp in 2004 and 2005, and toured the U.S. in the fall of 2006 as a member of Melbourne Roos. Her highlight of the 11-game tour against west coast Division I teams was a team high 13 in the Roos exhibition at then top 15-ranked Cal.