FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – University of Arkansas head coach Mike Neighbors announced the signing of Rokia Doumbia to a National Letter of Intent on Tuesday.
Doumbia joins transfers Chelsea Dungee and A’Tyanna Gaulden all of whom will make their Razorback debuts in 2018-19.
“Rokia Doumbia rose to the top of our recruiting board because she displayed the best qualities of being a good teammate that we have ever witnessed in 18 years of evaluating potential student-athletes, Neighbors said. “She consistently exhibited a rare ability to inspire her team through words, actions, and then her play. Her coachability was obvious to our entire staff from the very first time we saw her Banshee teams play.
“It doesn’t take years of experience to see she has potential to impact immediately in the SEC and in our program,” Neighbors continued. “Her offensive skills are apparent to anyone who watches her and has seen the game played at a high level. She can score at the basket, in the midrange, and from the arc but can also dominate a game without scoring with her penetration and passing.
“She was a defensive stopper against multiple positions. Her on-ball tenacity and rebounding from her position was special. Most impressive was her grasp of team defense communication. When some might have used a potential language barrier as an excuse, she made it a positive.
She showed all this playing against the best competition in the United States as an Arkansas Banshee on the elite travel circuits and against the world as a member of the Mali National Team.”
Doumbia, a 5-9 left-handed combo guard, is originally from Mali, Africa, and attends high school at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Doumbia is a four-star recruit and was a member of the U16 Mali (Africa) National Team in 2016 and 2017. She was the MVP of the FIBA U16 Africa Championship in 2015.
Doumbia also played high school basketball at Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and is a member of the Arkansas Banshees Club Team.
Doumbia plans to major in pre-med or engineering at Arkansas. She visited Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech and Oklahoma and had offers from Tennessee and TCU before selecting the Razorbacks.
The Back Story – by Coach Mike Neighbors
So, we arrive as a staff in Fayetteville in early April and see this incredible on-court talent, shining example of a teammate, which is exactly the type player we want/need in our locker room, but have no relationship with her.
The way the NCAA rules are structured, we see the talents first, long before we can have contact with the prospect.
Rokia was initially classified as a 2019 graduate, so we were not allowed to even contact her directly because of her graduation year.
As we begin forming a relationship with her host family we learned two things … one, she was a better person than she was a basketball player. Two, due to a transition to the United States educational system, she might actually be a 2018 graduate!
Fortunately, her host family, Danny and AJ Doyle, are uniquely experienced. Danny is a former college basketball coach and his personal time is dedicated to helping players from Africa find universities to continue their education in the United States. AJ serves as Rokia’s host mother. She is excited about her commitment to the U of A because she will be close and able to see her grow as a young woman.
Rokia was indeed reclassified as a 2018 high school graduate and we shifted our efforts into warp speed and made our desire to coach her very apparent with our words and actions.
Our staff built meaningful relationships with Rokia and all the wonderful people who have helped her on her basketball Odyssey.
The Arkansas Banshee organization with Nate Sadler, Lee Shannon, Caleb Livingston, and Chris Brown aided in her development for three summers and exposed her to elite level competition and training. Through those efforts, Rokia was one of six athletes, chosen as adidas All-American.
She will compete for Coach Shell Dailey this season at IMG Academy. Coach Dailey is currently the head coach and director of the women’s basketball program at IMG Academy. Shell is a former WNBA (San Antonio Stars) and Division I (Florida, Texas A&M, South Carolina and TCU) coach. She has coached and developed more than 50 WNBA players and 20-plus USA Basketball and Olympic players.
Coach Dailey’s experience as an elite player, college coach and WNBA coach will have Rokia prepared the day she steps on campus as a Razorback. IMG Academy will also uniquely prepare her for the time management rigors freshman normally face.
Prior to her coaching career, Shell played at the University of Texas under Jody Conradt where they won four Southwest Conference titles. She reached the NCAA Tournament all four years and played in the national championship game as a freshman for the Longhorns.
For more information about Arkansas women’s basketball, follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @RazorbackWBB and on Facebook at Facebook.com/RazorbackWBB. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel, “Kickin’ It In The Neighborhood” for an inside look at the Razorback women’s basketball program and check out The Neighborhood podcasts at CoachNeighbors.com.