TigerBlog On The Newest Members Of The Princeton Women's Baskeball Program
Courtney Banghart has taken her Princeton women’s basketball team to four Ivy League championships and four NCAA tournaments in the last five years.
As she starts down the path of looking to add to those numbers in 2015 and beyond, she welcomes to her program the Class of 2018. Princeton’s newest class goes three deep and includes players from coast to coast, with a stop in the exact midpoint of the country as well.
Alphabeticaly, Princeton women’s basketball now includes guard Kenya Holland from Virginia, forward Leslie Robinson from Oregon and guard Tia Weledji from Kansas.
“Recruiting is a comprehensive process as we span the country, looking for the right players and people to add to Tiger nation,” Banghart says. “We seek talented athletes, accomplished students, proven winners, fierce competitors, and high-character individuals who are excited about all that it means to play for Princeton. We proudly welcome Kenya, Leslie, and Tia to our family. These three student-athletes are eager to contribute to the Princeton community and to our Tiger program, and we are counting down until their arrival. It’s surely an exciting day for Tiger fans.”
Princeton’s women’s basketball Class of 2018:
Kenya Holland • 5-8 • G
Colonial Forge HS • Stafford, Va.
Kenya Holland was a four-year varsity starter at Colonial Forge, where she was team captain for three years on a team that lost just two conference games during her time there. Holland helped Colonia Forge to its first ever conference championship her freshman year, its first regional tournament win her sophomore year and first state tournament berth her junior year.
Holland finished her career with more than 1,000 points and 500 rebounds. She holds the county records for three-pointers in a season (90) and game (nine) and was the district Player of the Year as a junior and a McDonald’s All-America team nominee in 2014.
She played AAU basketball for the Lady Hoop Booth in elementary school, middle school and her first two years of high school land then for the Fairfax Stars, competing in the Nike Nationals, AAU Nationals, U.S. junior nationals and other showcase events.
She is one of four children of Gary and Janette Holland, who are both software engineers. Her siblings are Jasmine, a United States Army Specialist, Brandi, a junior at Christopher Newport University and Matthew, who is 7. She plans to major in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs.
"I'm excited to be a Tiger because it will provide new and challenging experiences for me personally, academically, socially and athletically,” Holland says. “I'm thrilled to have an opportunity to be part of Princeton's legacy of academic and athletic excellence because I know it will provide the foundation that I will launch from to break the status quo and make a real difference in the world. I hope to bring my history of success at every level academically and athletically and my passion to serve others to the Tigers so that the Tigers will continue to excel on the court, in the classroom and in the community. I bring focus, teamwork, commitment and a ridiculous desire to succeed at everything I do to the program as well."
Leslie Robinson • 6-0 • Forward
Corvallis HS • Corvallis, Ore.
Leslie Robinson is hardly a stranger to Princeton basketball. Her father Craig is one of the greatest players in the history of the men’s program, and he is one of only two men’s players in Princeton history to be the Ivy League Player of the Year twice (Kit Mueller is the other).
In addition, her aunt was Michelle Robinson when she graduated in Princeton’s Class of 1985. Today she is Michelle Obama, the First Lady of the United States and the wife of President Barack Obama.
Leslie comes to Princeton after earning all-state honors in Oregon as a high school senior. She was also a three-time All-5A Division selection, including earning unanimous first-team honors as a senior. She began her career as an honorable mention all-conference selection and then was named first-team all-conference three times and the conference Most Valuable Player as a senior.
She averaged 22 points per game last year, along with nine rebounds and 3.4 assists. She shot 55% from the field, 53% from three-point range and 77% from the line.
She led her team a second-place finish in the state as a senior after the team finished fifth her junior year, and she tied the record for the most rebounds in a state tournament game with 18.
"I cannot wait to be a Tiger and on a team that cares for one another like a family,” Robinson says. “I am excited to play my favorite sport at the number one school in the nation while creating lifelong memories."
Tia Weledji • 5-10 • Guard
Saint Thomas Aquinas HS • Overland Park, Kansas
Tia Weledji was a four-year starter at Saint Thomas Aquinas High School, where she led her team to three perfect league records, four substate championships and two Class 5A state championships. Her team was a combined 86-12 in her four years.
She was a three-time all-state selection. She was also named the league Most Valuable Player twice and was a four-time all-league selection, as well as a two-time all-metro selection. She was a McDonalds All-America nominee, and she was the MVP of the Kansas-Missouri tournament her senior year and an all-tournament selection her junior year.
She averaged 13.5 points per game as a junior and 14.3 as a senior. She is fifth all-time in scoring at her school, as well as sixth in three-pointers made and 10th in assists. Her 466 career rebounds are second-best in school history.
She is the daughter of Conrad and Medie Weledji, both of whom are from Cameroon, Africa. Her father played basketball for the Cameroonian national basketball team and soccer for Boston University. She also has two sisters: Sereena, who is 13, and Nelly, who is 20 and is a member of the Brown University women's basketball team.
“Saying that I am thrilled to come to Princeton and become part of the Tiger family is an understatement, and I feel so blessed with the opportunities that lie ahead,” Weledji says. “I chose Princeton because it’s a place that will challenge me and support me to reach all of my academic goals. As for the basketball aspect, the legacy and tradition that lies within the program is what really drew me in. On top of that, the coaches are extremely knowledgeable and caring and have a great passion for the game. They care deeply about the individual success of each player, on and off the court, and I am excited to grow as a player and as a person through their coaching. The team also has great charisma and chemistry and truly enjoys playing together. I feel very comfortable with them and I am very excited to grow closer with each of them. Above all, I aspire to come to Princeton and use my talents and abilities to contribute to and continue the great legacy and tradition within the university and the women’s basketball program.”