COOKEVILLE, Tenn. --- Tennessee Tech women's basketball coach Sytia Messer flexed her recruiting muscle recently as she announced the signing of Mariah Deana and Tia Nicholson for the 2012-13 season.
"These two kids are special and they have a lot of intangibles," Messer said. "Mariah and Tia are great both on and off the court and I'm happy that they will join our TTU basketball family."
A 6-2 center out of Atlanta, Ga., Dean has been a member of the girls basketball team at Mays High School for three seasons, and chose to attend Tech over Tulane, East Carolina and Cincinnati.
"It's kind of surreal right now," Dean said. "I'm really looking forward to next season and I hope to bring a lot of enthusiasm to the team."
Dean's high school coach Natasha Harrigan was also pleased to find out Dean decided to attend Tennessee Tech.
"I'm excited for her," Harrigan said. "Tennessee Tech will be a good transition for her and she'll bring a work ethic that is second to none."
During her junior season, Dean made a huge impact on her squad, accounting for 15 points and eight rebounds per game.
"Mariah's ability to rebound aggressively will have a great effect on our program," Messer said.
A 6-1 forward out of Clarksville, Tenn., Nicholson has put together a solid resume during her three-plus years at Clarksville High School.
"Tennessee Tech just seemed like a really good fit for me," Nicholson said. "The campus and the town seemed nice and it's close to home."
During her junior season, Nicholson averaged 10 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists per game, en route to receiving all-district and all-region honors.
Nicholson has tallied more than 500 points and 500 rebounds during her three seasons, and helped her team reach the state tournament quarterfinals with a record of 32-4.
"Tia's ability to involve herself in every play, both on offense and defense really stood out for me," Messer said. "Her ability to finish around the basket will be invaluable next season."
Nicholson's high school coach Brian Rush also raved about Tia's signing with TTU.
"It's going to be a great fit for Tia and she will do well under the tutelage of coach Messer," Rush said. "On the court she's a long and lean player that's quick to the hoop and has one of the softest touches."