How Baylor landed top-10 duo from a Texas high school

Star point guard Sarah Andrews might not be a great singer, but when she grabbed the mic recently, it was music to Baylor coach Kim Mulkey’s ears.

During her final recruiting visit earlier this month, Andrews engaged in a karaoke song-and-dance contest with the Bears players at Mulkey’s home.

“Yes, all right, this has been a great visit,” Andrews began. “I want to say ‘thank you’ to my parents, through the whole process and everything. But I want to say … I’m committed to Baylor.”

At that point, the entire Baylor team started screaming. The video, shot by Andrews’ mom, got titled as everyone in the room ran to engulf Sarah in a group hug.

“The team attacked me — that’s what happened,” 5-foot-7 Andrews joked. “It was an exciting moment.”

It was a moment that Andrews shared with 6-5 center Hannah Gusters, her teammate at MacArthur (Irving, Texas). Both players are among the nation’s top 10 prospects — Andrews at No. 7 in the espnW HoopGurlz Class of 2020, Gusters rated ninth.

“It will be great to have her there at Baylor because there will be days when I need somebody to talk to who is a freshman like me and going through the same things.”

Sarah Andrews on current MacArthur and future Baylor teammate Hannah Gusters

Gusters had committed to Baylor in May, but she wanted to take her official visit with Andrews on that Nov. 1-3 weekend in Waco.

Even though they have known each other since the sixth grade, Gusters had no idea Andrews was going to commit to Baylor.

“It’s hard to read Sarah,” Gusters said. “I didn’t know, and I don’t think even she knew up until that time. When she made her announcement, I was very surprised.”

It was surely a happy surprise for Mulkey, who completed her one-stop shopping at MacArthur High. Andrews and Gusters were Baylor’s only recruits during the early signing period.

But Andrews and Gusters will follow other prep stars who went from MacArthur to Baylor, a list that must start with Odyssey Sims, a point guard who was the WNBA’s No. 2 pick in 2014.

Sims, who won a national title in Baylor, has mentored Andrews in particular because they have known each other for years and play the same position. (Gusters arrived at MacArthur only last year.)

“That’s my big sister and my go-to,” Andrews said of Sims. “She helped with my recruiting process. She’s a great mentor because she tells me what I need to hear instead of what I want to hear.

“She tells me things from a pro perspective, and I talk to her every day.”

MacArthur coach Suzie Oelschlegel (second from left) had previously coached Odyssey Sims and Alexis Jones. But she thinks there’s something special in the duo of Hannah Gusters and Sarah Andrews.¬†Courtesy of MacArthur Girls BasketballTagging along

Andrews grew up idolizing her brother, Kennie Cooper, who is four years her senior. When Cooper went to football practice as a boy, Andrews was there, too. At age 4, she tucked a football under one of her little arms and then tried her best to throw and catch, just like her brother.

Basketball season brought a similar scene, starting with her third-grade year. That’s when Andrews met skills trainer and Full Throttle Basketball founder Earl Rooks, who had been working with Cooper.

“Before I met Sarah, I had done player development but only with guys,” Rooks said. “When her family brought me Sarah, I thought, ‘Is she working out with us?’

“But once she got rolling, I said, ‘Yeah.’ Almost immediately, I knew she was going to be really good.

“Sarah is naturally athletic and strong, and she can handle the ball. She has been ranked top 10 nationally since the seventh grade, and she has maintained that rating all this time, which is unusual. Sarah has never gotten big-headed or complacent.”

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Rooks said that Andrews, who earned her first college scholarship from Texas Tech when she was in the seventh grade, has a vastly different story from Gusters’.

“Hannah didn’t get major recognition until after her first year of high school,” said Rooks, who started working with Gusters when she was in the sixth grade. “She went from not being known to dominant.

“She wasn’t refined when she came to me, but I could see her potential. Hannah has an incredible touch around the rim.”

Is this the year?

MacArthur won its only state title in 2011, which was Alexis Jones’ junior year. Jones, who concluded her collegiate career at Baylor in 2017, was a McDonald’s All American at McArthur.

Last season could have been another special season at MacArthur, but Andrews missed 15 games with a fractured left wrist.

Worse yet for the Cardinals was the status of Gusters, who transferred from Duncanville (Texas) after averaging 14.5 points as a sophomore. The Texas prep governing body, the University Interscholastic League, ultimately ruled Gusters ineligible for last season after her transfer.

Without Gusters in the post, MacArthur (28-9) lost to DeSoto (Texas) in the second round of the playoffs.

During her absence from high school basketball, Gusters was at the gym each morning at 6 working on her game.

Gusters, who said she chose Baylor over Connecticut because she wants to follow in the sneaker steps of former Bears centers Brittney Griner and Kalani Brown, as well as current versatile post Lauren Cox, will be eligible to play for MacArthur on Dec. 13 against Coppell (Texas).

Missing last season was extremely difficult for Gusters.

“It was a huge barrier in my life,” Gusters said. “I was 16, and I had all these adults attacking me on social media [after leaving Duncanville].

“I had a lot of anxiety. I cried. I had never dealt with something like that before.”

Gusters, who wants to major in sports broadcasting at Baylor, said she has circled Dec. 13 on her calendar.

“It says, ‘Turn Up Day,'” Gusters said when asked what she marked on her calendar. “I think people are going to see a whole new and different player than what I was before — faster, stronger, more confident and way more agile.

“I plan on having 30 points, 10 rebounds and probably five blocks. I want game day to be right now. I can’t wait. I get goose bumps just thinking about that day.”

Dynamic duo

Coach Suzie Oelschlegel, who has 825 career wins — all of them at MacArthur — has had some terrific players on her previous teams, including stars such as Sims and Jones.

But Oelschlegel feels she has something truly special with Andrews and Gusters on the same squad. Both of them are leaders.

Andrews makes sure she distributes the ball and gets her teammates going instead of just hunting her own shot.

Meanwhile, when Gusters was forced to sit out last season after her transfer, she used part of that time to mentor MacArthur’s other post players.

“My other girls told me they learned so much from Hannah,” Oelschlegel said.

Certainly, Andrews is thrilled she will be going to Baylor with Gusters, even though they have had their battles on the practice courts.

“We’re both competitors,” Andrews said. “If we are on opposite teams, we’ll go after each other’s heads.

“But even blood couldn’t make us any closer. It will be great to have her there at Baylor because there will be days when I need somebody to talk to who is a freshman like me and going through the same things.

“Her and I have a great sisterhood relationship.”

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