Maryland women’s basketball commitment Dee Liles will suit up for the Terps next season with an already impressive resume.
During her sophomore season, Liles helped lead Gulf Coast (Fla.) Community College to the National Junior College Athletic Association championship. She earned MVP honors at the NJCAA tournament. And Liles was named Junior College Player of the Year.
Liles, a 6-foot forward, averaged 11.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per game during Gulf Coast’s regular season. But according to Commodores head coach Roonie Scovel, those numbers were a little deceiving.
“You would have to look beyond the numbers because she was one of five kids averaging double-figures,” Scovel said. “What made her so special was her presence on the court. We probably wouldn't have been as successful without her. She had to guard so many positions. Her athleticism is what separates her -- that's the bottom line. She's a phenomenal athlete and I don't know if there’s a better athlete than her on the college level.”
Liles saved her best performances of the year for the NJCAA tournament. The Suitland native averaged 12.8 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.5 steals during the four-game tournament. Scovel said those four games were the culmination of her two years at Gulf Coast.
“I thought she was the most consistent that I've seen her in two years -- the most consistent production and effort in two years,” Scovel said. “... She seemed to be real focused on that task at hand.”
There’s been some debate about what Liles’ best position at the next level would be. At 6-foot, maybe 6-foot-1, she’s a touch undersized for forward. But while initially Scovel thought size would be a concern, she’s now changed her tune.
“We were concerned her freshman year that she’d have to improve [her outside game] to play on the perimeter, but I've changed my thoughts on that,” Scovel said. “Even though she's undersized, her athleticism makes her play much bigger. I think she'll be able to work in the post and in the perimeter some. She hit some really nice perimeter shots. All of our [NJCAA tournament] games were close, and she hit baseline jumpers, shots from the free throw line. She's very, very quick, and has an unbelievable ability to jump.”
On the defensive end, Liles’ size shouldn’t be a concern at all, according to Scovel.
“The athleticism, the ability to get rebounds off the rim and defend -- she's such a tremendous defender,” Scovel said. “Taking charges seems to be a lost art, but she's very good at that. She can take away the lane and block shots. She’s a tremendous shot-blocker, and we’re going to miss the athleticism. You don't get players to come along that often that have that type of athleticism.”
Scovel said she’ll miss Liles’ basketball IQ and athleticism next year. But she thinks Liles is ready to take that next step.
“I think she’s going to do fine,” Scovel said. “She trained with Team USA, made it to training camp there, so she's played with the best of the best. She was one of the finalists [to make the team], so she’s obviously shown that she's a top athlete that can play at the next level. She's going to have to consistently do it on a day-to-day basis to keep with the success [Maryland’s] having.
“She's going to a place that's got tremendous basketball players, but she's coming from one well-diversified team and going to another,” Scovel said. “Of course I think they’re losing some of that, so I'm sure they'll expect her to give them quality minutes. She's not going to have to change the things she does, but she’ll step it up to play in the ACC.”