University of Missouri

Robin Pingeton, Mizzou women land five-star St. Louis recruit Aijha Blackwell

Missouri coach Robin Pingeton shouts from the sideline during the first half against Mississippi on Thursday in Columbia, Mo.
Missouri coach Robin Pingeton shouts from the sideline during the first half against Mississippi on Thursday in Columbia, Mo. AP

Missouri women’s basketball coach Robin Pingeton just landed her biggest recruit since Sophie Cunningham.

Aijha Blackwell, a 2019 five-star guard out of Whitfield School in St. Louis, committed to the Tigers on Monday over Louisville and Kansas, joining four-star recruit Haley Frank in a loaded class. Frank is a top-30 prospect while Blackwell is in the top 10, according to ESPN.

“I know she’s really dreamt of playing at Mizzou since she was a little kid,” Whitfield coach Michael Slater said. “The history there with dad and it being her home state, I think there were a number of things outside of basketball that really drew her.”

Blackwell, the daughter of former Missouri and Chiefs running back Ernest Blackwell, is a crafty scorer and can pass well. Slater has used her at all five positions in high school and over the summer she played with the USA National Team.

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Pingeton had struggled to recruit the blue-chip prospects out of St. Louis in recent years as Napheesa Collier (UConn) and Alecia Sutton (Texas) went out of state.

“It’s huge,” Slater said. “We’ve seen a number of great players in this area go elsewhere. Now Mizzou can go out on the recruiting trail and talk about Aijha Blackwell and how she stayed home. It’s a huge feather in their cap.”

Blackwell took an unofficial visit to Missouri in September and Pingeton sought the help of football coach Barry Odom to have her wear her father’s No. 33 jersey while on the visit. Odom played with the elder Blackwell in the late 1990s and had his locker by Blackwell’s. Blackwell committed to Missouri wearing her father’s jersey in the video she tweeted.

Blackwell will replace Cunningham next season as the focal point of the offense. The 6-foot-1 guard will have plenty of scoring support with Missouri returning Haley Troup, Amber Smith, Grace Berg and Hannah Schuchts.

Alex Schiffer

Alex Schiffer covers University of Missouri athletics for The Star.

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