MURRAY – Two area guards and an international post player make up the class of the first signing period of Murray State Head women’s basketball coach Rechelle Turner from 2022-2023.
Goalkeepers Briley Pena of Jonesboro, Arkansas and Zoe Stewart of Terre Haute, Indiana will don blue and gold next season, as will forward Júlia Puente Valverde from Barcelona, Spain.
Pena is a 5-4 babysitter at Nettleton High School in Jonesboro. She has been selected three times for All Conferences and All States and an Honorable Mention for the 2020 Arkansas Sports Media Women’s Basketball Super Team. Pena helped Nettleton win a Class 5A State Championship. of Arkansas in 2020 and was ranked 20th best player in the state last season by Arkansas Basketball Rankings. Pena averaged 20.4 points, 3.2 assists and 2.0 steals per game last season as a junior, in addition to shooting 47% from field, 44% from 3-point range and 86% from the free throw line.
“Briley is an incredible competitor and her drive to compete and win is so strong that she goes from an intangible force to a very real force on the field and within her team,” said Turner. “Briley is a smaller guard, but unmatched tenacity allows him to take on any point guard. She is an excellent general on the ground and strives to improve her teammates. Briley’s talents as a goalscorer and passer will be welcome and her leadership and courage will be special ingredients to add to a championship mix. “
Puente is a 6-2 forward for Collegi Sagrada Família Sant Andreu in Barcelona. The Spanish native rose through the ranks of the Catalan Basketball Federation, winninging multiple teams and individual honors along the way and frequently playing above his age range. In 2019, Puente helped his team win the Catalan and Spanish championships at U16 level. Currently Puente is averaging 10.7 points in 24 games for Femení Maresme BC
“Julia’s size, strength and skills make her a wonderful addition to our program. She takes great pride in defending and bouncing at a high level, two areas that we are emphasizing in the pursuit of the championships, ”said Turner. “Julia will bring tenacity to our inside post game at both ends of the floor and has the ability to catch the ball away from the basket and reach the edge of the dribble.”
Stewart is a 5-10 goalie at Terre Haute North High School in Terre Haute. Last season, she averaged 20 points and five rebounds per game before being named to the 2021 Indiana Underclassmen Large School State team. Stewart is also a member of the Terre Haute North 1,000-point club, becoming the fifth player in school history to reach the milestone last season. Additionally, Stewart is a Racer legacy, as his father played basketball for Murray State from 1980 to 1984.
“Zoe is a dynamic athlete, with physical gifts that will allow her to impact the game on both ends of the court,” said Turner. “She has the ability to defend a variety of backcourt opponents, from playmakers to scoring wingers. Zoe’s offensive play is also enhanced by her versatility, she can stretch defenses and attack lane, but her most unique talent is a highly developed midrange play that includes a deadly pull-up jumper. Zoe is our first inherited rookie because her father, Brian, was a major contributor to the success of the late Ron Greene’s Murray State teams.