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Blakely, Manuel among latest to join MSU Billings basketball women

Posted at 6:31 PM, Apr 01, 2019
(MSUB Athletics photo)

(Editor’s note: MSUB Athletics release)

BILLINGS – Introducing three more letter of intent signees for the 2019-20 academic year, Montana State University Billings women’s basketball head coach Kevin Woodin announced the latest additions to his team on Monday.

Emma Blakely of Missoula, TyLee Manuel of Billings, and Kate Sams of Spokane Valley, Washington are the three newest players to join the Yellowjackets. They will join a group of four previous signings, bringing Woodin’s total for next season to seven players thus far.

2019-20 MSUB Women’s Basketball Recruiting Class
Player Position Hometown High School/Previous College
Emma Blakely Guard Missoula, MT Hellgate High School
Kali Gulick Forward Kalispell, MT Glacier High School
TyLee Manuel Forward Billings, MT Billings West High School
TyRaa Manuel Forward Billings, MT Billings West High School
Shayla Montague Guard Billings, MT Billings West High School
Kate Sams Guard Spokane Valley, WA Central Valley High School
Danielle Zahn Guard Florence, MT Florence-Carlton High School

Emma Blakely
Missoula, Montana
5-7 – Guard
Intended Major: Marketing

Blakely is a four-year letterwinner on the hardwood at Hellgate High School, and recently led the Knights to a third-place finish at the state tournament. She was a first-team all-state, first-team all-conference, and academic all-state selection during her senior year. She averaged 12.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game last season, while shooting 72.5 percent from the foul line. The 5-foot-7 shooting guard also received her team’s captain’s award and offensive player of the year award.

“I am incredibly grateful and honored to be given the opportunity to play basketball at MSUB,” Blakely said. “When I visited the campus, Coach Woodin and Coach Breen immediately made me feel welcomed, and I was impressed with how every player is both valued and celebrated. I am elated that I will be able to continue to play basketball at the collegiate level, and I look forward to being a part of the MSUB women’s basketball team.”

Blakely helped her team to a 16-9 record in 2018-19, and was the team’s leading scorer in 12 of 25 games. She also competes as a sprinter and hurdler on the track and field team, where she has won a pair of letters.

“Emma had a great senior basketball season and her leadership was key to Hellgate getting to its first state tournament in more than 15 years,” said Woodin. “Emma combines a great work ethic with a strong passion for the game. I am pleased she chose MSUB to further her education, and she will provide us with much-needed depth at the wing position.”

TyLee Manuel
Billings, Montana
6-1 – Forward
Intended Major: Undecided

Manuel joins her sister TyRaa, whose signing was announced on November 20, 2018. Manuel starred for the Billings West squad that finished as the state runner-up during the 2018-19 season. She was a first-team all-state and all-conference selection her sophomore through senior seasons, and was a team captain during her senior year on the court. One of Manuel’s top games included an 11-for-11 shooting performance during her senior year against Butte.

“I chose MSUB to be able to stay home and play with my twin sister TyRaa and best friend Shayla Montague,” Manuel said. “Family is super important to me, and being only a few minutes away will be nice. MSUB is also a great school, and has a really good program.”

“It is great to have TyLee join our basketball program,” Woodin said. “She has excellent fundamentals, and her offensive rebounding and versatility will make our team better right away. TyLee had a very impressive career at Billings West, and we are excited that she has chosen to stay close to home and attend MSUB. I know she will have a positive impact on our team.”

Kate Sams
Spokane Valley, Washington
5-9 – Guard
Intended Major: Undecided

Sams is a four-year letterwinner as a guard/forward at Central Valley High School, where her teams combined to go 105-6 during her career. She led the Bears to a pair of state championships, as well as a Geico National Championship title. The 5-foot-9 Sams was a team captain, and also helped her team capture a pair of state academic championships. She had an undefeated record as both a freshman and a junior.

“I chose MSUB to continue my academic and basketball career because it feels like home,” said Sams. “The coaching staff made me very comfortable during my visit. The girls were welcoming and supportive of me coming in. The campus was beautiful, and it is a place I can call my new home.”

“I am excited to have Kate join our women’s basketball program next year,” Woodin said. “She is a very talented and versatile wing player, who competes very hard at both ends of the floor. I really like her overall toughness and ability to play and guard multiple positions on the court. Kate’s Central Valley teams were incredibly successful during her high-school career, and I know she knows what it takes to win consistently. I believe Kate will make us better right away.”

MSUB went 12-14 during the 2018-19 season and finished in seventh place in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference standings with a league record of 8-12.