University of Missouri

Missouri women's basketball adds another top 70 recruit

Missouri signee Akira Levy should contribute right away as a point guard.
Missouri signee Akira Levy should contribute right away as a point guard. Mizzou Athletics

Missouri women’s basketball has signed a top 70 player to its recruiting class. Akira Levy, a 5-foot-7 point guard ranked No. 67 in the class of 2018 by ESPN, has signed a financial aid agreement to play for the Tigers.

The high-scoring guard originally signed a National Letter of Intent to play for Western Kentucky, but she asked out of it once the Hilltoppers’ coach left for another job. Levy's high school coach told The Tennessean that Levy would need to commit to a new school before receiving her release from WKU. Then, after Levy committed to Mizzou following a late April visit to Columbia, WKU told Levy she would not receive her release until she "enrolled in the first day of classes at an institution outside of Conference USA."

On Wednesday, Levy told The Star that Western Kentucky is holding to that policy, “but it’s in writing now.”

Mizzou’s backcourt is already full. Starters Lauren Aldridge and Sophie Cunningham are returning for their senior seasons. Key reserves Jordan Chavis and Jordan Roundtree are rising juniors. But coach Robin Pingeton said Levy will “make an immediate impact and be a great addition for us.”

Levy, from Baxter, Tenn., was a two-time winner of state’s Class AA Miss Basketball honor. She averaged 25.3 points, 9.4 assists and 4.8 steals this past season while leading Upperman to its second straight state title.

“A lot of people were singing her praises,” Pingeton said. “(But) you’ve got to have the face-to-face time. It did not take long once she was on campus. It’s a feel. She’s kind of got that ‘it’ factor.”

Pingeton said Levy plays with a confidence and passion that mirrors Cunningham, the Tigers’ star All-SEC player. Cunningham joined Pingeton and Levy for dinner during the recruit’s visit to campus, and the Missouri coach found them to be “two peas in a pod.”

“The fact she’s got four years in front of her, it’s really exciting to see the kind of leadership she’s going to bring to the court, the kind of work ethic,” Pingeton said. “Really high basketball IQ. She’s going to be a fun player to watch.”

Like most freshman, Levy’s greatest challenge will be adjusting to the physicality of the college game, Pingeton said. She’ll need to improve her three-point shooting consistency, too.

“I’m anxious to get her here in the summer and see exactly where she’s at when she goes against our players in practice,” Pingeton said. “But I have no doubt she’ll make a great impact for us.”

Levy is the second member of the Tigers’ 2018 recruiting class. Missouri still has one open scholarship it hopes to fill soon.