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McNeill welcomes Claytor, recruits to active roster

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East Carolina's Dominique Claytor grabs a loose ball in Minges Coliseum on Dec. 2, 2017.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Like J.J. Miles from Cape Fear Community College for the East Carolina men's basketball team, the ECU women are anticipating the final member of their recruiting class to soon join the team when guard Katerina Tsineke makes her full transition from Thessaloniki, Greece, to Greenville.

A fresh addition for this year already with the Pirate women for summer workouts is Dominique Claytor, who is back to active status after a season-long injury and redshirt season. The forward and Winston-Salem native made 36 starts during her first two seasons combined, highlighted by leading the Pirates in defensive rebounds with 93 in 2017-18.

She is a junior. Her redshirt year separated her in class from two good friends, Pirate seniors Justice Gee and Raven Johnson.

"She is trimming down and she is strong," first-year Pirate coach Kim McNeill said of Claytor. "When you sit out a year and are not able to do anything, you lose some things, but she has been attacking it in the weight room and is doing really good with the conditioning piece. The thing that I have been impressed with about her is her basketball IQ.

"She is very smart on the floor and has been picking things up really quick. That's really good for our system, because we do a lot of different things defensively."

The Pirates signed Tsineke and three other freshmen. Hartford transfer Sierra Dacosta will sit out this season per NCAA transfer rules and be a senior for the 2020-21 campaign.

Dacosta, a guard, made 32 starts for McNeill and the Hawks last season, averaging 12.1 points per game while leading the team in free throws made (82) and attempted (122).

"Everybody thinks she is a grad transfer, but she is not," said McNeill, who was 59-38 overall at Hartford. "She still can have a tremendous impact on our team because she can be someone who the girls can go to and talk to about us and our expectations and our system. She is already coming in believing in our system, because she was in it for three years and saw what it can do."

McNeill added that a few scholarships still are available if the Pirates find the right recruiting need.

The coach was introduced at ECU in late March and immediately was busy on the recruiting trail. She leaned on her prior connections for a signing class that included players from Hamden, Conn., Brampton, Ontario, and Columbia, Md.

"I spent four years at Georgia, five years at Virginia and time at James Madison, so it wasn't like in the past when I went out to California (2005-07) and had to build a whole new base," McNeill said of recruiting. "This is like I was coming back home, where I already had ties and had been very successful recruiting. It was easy picking up the phone and calling people -- AAU coaches and high school coaches -- to say that I am back and I am excited to be back in the South and about getting this job."

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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