“Exciting day in Ypsilanti as we announce the signing of three impactful student athletes to our program. It’s been a pleasure building relationship with Kennedi Myles, Liv Westphal, and Madina Okot during the recruiting process as it was evident quickly that all three would be a great fit here at Eastern Michigan”, said Castro. “All three bring character and work ethic to our program, and each bring a unique skill set to our team on the court. The Ypsilanti community will enjoy getting to know these young women and watching them compete in the George Gervin GameAbove Center during the 2023-24 season”.
Hailing from Nairobi, Kenya, Okot will don the Green and White after an impressive prep career in her home country. A 6-foot-6 center, Okut is a member of the Kaya Tiwi Secondary School program averaging 9.9 points and 14.4 rebounds per game. She was named a Top 60 African Player after her performance at the Basketball Without Borders (BWB) camp in Cairo, Egypt which also landed her the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award during the international camp as well as in the Africa Qualifiers. Additionally, Okot was selected to be a member of the Team World Nike Hoop Summit team in 2023 and earned the Sports Personality of the Year (SOYA) award in 2022.
“Madina is a gifted 6-foot-6 post player from Kenya that will make an immediate impact due to her size and athleticism,” says Castro. “Madina runs the floor hard and is an immediate presence in the paint on defense and offense. She will build a wall at the rim for us day one and demand a great deal of attention from opposing defenses. Madina has already earned quality international playing experience competing for the Kenyan national team. Most recently she was selected to compete for the World Team in the Nike Hoops Summit event in Portland Oregon. Madina wants to study medicine and return to Kenya to help her community.”
Also joining the Eagles is Westphal, who comes to Ypsilanti following a two-year stint at Duquesne University. A 5-foot-9 guard, Westphal was an espnW’s HoopGurlz Four-Star Prospect and ranked as the 90th overall prospect in the class of 2021, the highest ranked student-athlete from Pennsylvania. In high school, she was a Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Class 6A First-Team All-State selection as a senior and a Second-Team All-State selection as both a junior and sophomore. Additionally, Westphal was a four-time Big 56 All-Selection as well as a four-time All-Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) selection. She helped lead Bethel Park to three PIAA tournaments, four WPIAL tournaments, and a section championship. As a member of the team, she led the Black Hawks to an impressive 23-2 record, a WPIAL 6A Championship appearance and a spot in the PIAA tournament quarterfinals as a junior. Personally, she needed just three seasons to eclipse 1,000 career points as a Black Hawk, averaging 24.7 points per game as a senior and set a school record 45 points in a win against Mars High School.
“Liv is a 5-foot-9 guard that can flat out shoot the ball with range, “noted Castro. “Her ability to catch and shoot with a quick release puts a great deal of pressure on opponents and will open the floor for herself and her teammates. Liv has great court awareness and basketball IQ which will allow her to transition into our motion offense seamlessly. She was a bona fide scorer in high school earning an all-state selection in Pennsylvania while scoring over 2000 points in her career”.
Joining the Eagles after time at both the University of Illinois and Marquette University is Myles. As a Golden Eagle, Myles made 32 appearances her junior season, averaging 2.0 points and 3.2 rebounds. As a senior, she averaged 1.9 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 29 appearances with seven starts. She grabbed seven rebounds and scored a season-high seven points in a win against Milwaukee, Nov. 13, 2022 and pulled down a season-high eight rebounds, accompanied with two assists, one point and a steal against St. John’s, March 4. Prior to her time at Marquette, Myles signed with the Fighting Illini spending two years in Illinois where she started in all 52 games she appeared in. She averaged 8.8 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists during those two seasons while shooting 37.4 percent from the field and ranked second on the team in scoring (8.9 ppg) and minutes (28.0 mpg), while leading the team in rebounding (8.7 rpg), steals (61) and blocks (21). In her first season, she set a freshman record with 251 rebounds and her 61 steals ranked third all-time among Illini freshmen. Additionally, she was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week, Dec. 16, 2019 and named to the 2021 Winter Academic All-Big Ten. In high school, Myles was a two-time Eastern Cincinnati Conference Player of the Year (2016-17, 2017-18) and was recognized as an All-Eastern Cincinnati Conference player four times in her high school career. A McDonald’s All-American nominee, Myles averaged 13.6 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1.5 blocked shots and 3.0 steals per game during her senior season, also leading the Eastern Cincinnati Conference in rebounding.
“Kennedi Myles is a welcomed addition as she has tremendous college playing experience both at the University of Illinois and Marquette University. She plays a physical brand of basketball in the paint but is also very efficient in the pinch post and at 17 foot with her ability to shoot the ball,” says Castro. “I look forward to seeing Kennedi impact our physical brand of basketball in the paint and using her invaluable playing experience to help us on the practice floor and on game days. Kennedi will work on her masters in Sports Management as she aspires to be a college athletic director one day.”
Castro, his three newest signees, and the rest of the Eagles will be hard at work during the summer months prepping for the upcoming 2023-24 slate. Stay tuned to EMUEagles.com and the team’s social media, @EMUWBB, for the most up-to-date information on all things EMU women’s basketball.
Source: Eastern Athletics