Nov. 11, 1998

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Alicia Ratay, a 5-11 guard from Lake Zurich, Ill., Amanda Barksdale, a 6-3 forward from Friendswood, Tex. and 5-9 guard Monique Hernandez from Rio Rancho, N.M., all ranked among the top 100 seniors by Blue Star Basketball , have signed national letters of intent to join the University of Notre Dame women’s basketball beginning in the fall of 1999.

“On paper, this is probably our best recruiting class ever,” Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw says. “My staff did an outstanding job of identifying these players as the three that would be best suited for our program. We filled all of our needs and improved ourselves defensively. I’m extremely pleased with this class because all three players are going to come in here and contribute in a lot of different. They give us tremendous balance and depth both offensively and defensively.”

Ratay, a member of the U.S. Youth World Games team which captured the bronze medal this summer in Moscow, Russia, is rated eighth by Blue Star Basketball .

A three-year member starter at Lake Zurich, Ratay averaged 22.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.0 steals in leading her squad to a 30-3 record during the 1997-98 campaign and into the quarterfinals of the state championship. A first-team all-state selection and all-area honoree in 1998, she has been named to the all-Fox Valley Conference first-team in each of her three scholastic seasons while leading her team to three consecutive undefeated seasons in league play.

Ratay ranks second all-time in scoring at Lake Zurich with more than 1,500 points. She led her 1997 Illinois Hustle AAU squad to a sixth-place finish at the AAU Nationals.

“Alicia’s experience playing internationally this summer cannot be underestimated,” McGraw. “I think it helped improve her overall game as well as helping her mature as a player. She is a great shooter, handles the ball extremely well and is a great passer.

Alicia is going to remind a lot of people of Beth Morgan (Notre Dame’s all-time leading scorer who graduated in 1997) because she is such a pure shooter. I expect her to make a quick adjustment to the college game and come in and contribute immediately.”

Barksdale, is rated 41st in the Blue Star ratings. A two-year starter at Clear Brook, she netted 10.3 points, grabbed 9.0 rebounds and averaged 8.5 blocked shots in her junior season as she led her team to a 26-6 mark and into the regional quarterfinals, its farthest finish in school history.

Named Clear Brook Intermediate District MVP and a first-team all-district selection, she led the Houston area in blocked shots as a junior with 273. Barksdale has twice garnered league Defensive MVP honors and also was the league’s Offensive MVP as a sophomore.

Barksdale, who has been a member of the Houston Hot Shots AAU team for the last three years, led her squad to the nationals after it took first in the regional tournament.

“Amanda is a great shot blocker,” McGraw says. “She runs the floor very and is a very strong athletic and defensive player. Her shot-blocking presence, along with that of Ruth Riley (current Irish sophomore), will help us tremendously on defense.”

Hernandez, who averaged 16.7 points in her junior season at Cibola, is ranked among the top 30 guard nationally and is 98th overall by Blue Star Basketball. A three-time first-team all-city selection, Hernandez has garnered first-team all-state honors each of the last two seasons.

The leading scorer in the city, she ranks third all-time heading into her final season at Cibola with 952 career points. Hernandez holds the school record for three-pointers in a game (seven). In addition, she is second all-time with 454 rebounds and third in career assists (197) and steals (90).

“Monique’s quickness and skills as a point guard will help us out immediately,” McGraw says. “She is such a good athlete and versatile player. Monique is a strong ballhandler with excellent passing skills. She gives us great depth at the point guard position.”