Message to those thinking about driving down the lane in a game against Harrisburg, Jeniah Ugofsky embraces something not many basketball players do.
She actually enjoys being knocked to the court.
“There are some games where I’ve taken three or four charges in a row,” the 6-foot senior forward said Wednesday.
Yes, literally, she added.
“I just love doing those hustle plays to help my team,” Ugofsky said. “That’s my favorite feeling. You can feel the energy change in the game.”
That’s one of the traits Ugofsky will bring to the Division I level with the South Dakota women’s basketball program. She was one of three recruits announced Wednesday by USD, on the first day of the early signing period.
Ugofsky, a two-time Class AA all-state first team selection, has helped guide Harrisburg to the state tournament each of her three seasons. The Tigers have finished in the top-four each year, and last season lost in the championship game.
She has also seen her production improve each of the past two seasons. Ugofsky averaged 7.4 points and 6.9 rebounds as a sophomore, and then 12.3 points and 8.8 rebounds as a junior last season.
Not included: How many charges she’s taken.
“We love the toughness that she plays with on the court, and the energy and enthusiasm she brings to every team that she is a part of,” USD head coach Dawn Plitzuweit said.
“Jeniah is an incredible defender, rebounder, and has no fear of stepping up and changing the game by taking charges.”
Ugofsky committed to USD during her sophomore season after she said she felt an immediate connection to the coaches, the team and the Vermillion community — she and her family (including father, Jay, a Yankton High School graduate) are regulars at Coyote home games.
“I didn’t know where I was going to go for a while there, but when I visited there, I instantly fell in love,” Ugofsky said.
“As soon as I got offered, I knew that was my school,” she added.
After she committed to USD, Ugofsky said she was able to play with more freedom, without any distractions about colleges or the recruiting process.
“I’ve been able to work on myself and what I can do, instead of worrying about a school or who was watching me,” she said.
While she still has her senior season remaining with Harrisburg, Ugofsky said she feels like her style — versatile post, can step out and shoot — will fit USD rather well.
“I feel they’re a very defensively strong team, and that’ll be good for me,” Ugofsky said.
And on offense?
“Their offense is really different compared to some teams, but I think it’ll be a good fit for me to play inside and outside,” Ugofsky said.
Ugofsky joined Macy Guebert (5-9, G, Apple Valley, Minnesota) and Alexi Hempe (6-0, G/F, Fredericksburg, Virginia) on USD’s 2019 recruiting class.
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