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Ballard inks with ‘Noles; FSU women sign three transfers

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Quincy Ballard, who averaged 14 points, 11 rebounds and six blocked shots in 2020 at the Quality Education Academy, has signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Florida State.

Ballard (7-0, 245 pounds) attended the Quality Education Academy in Winston-Salem, N.C., for two years after transferring from Henniger High School in Syracuse, N.Y. He played his senior season and a high school prep season at QEA.

Ballard spent the majority of his high school career as a 6-foot-8 combo forward before a growth spurt between his junior and senior seasons increased his height to 7-0.

“We are very excited for Quincy to become a member of our program at Florida State,” said FSU coach Leonard Hamilton. “He has good hands, good feet and is the type of player who has allowed us to become successful at Florida State. His athletic abilities along with his work ethic make a really good fit for our program. We are looking forward to getting him on campus because we are all excited about Quincy being a Seminole.”

Hamilton led Florida State to a 26-5 record and the ACC Championship with a 16-4 record in ACC play. The Seminoles won the ACC regular season championship and would have played in their school-record fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament as one of the top seeds in the championship.

“I am excited and proud to be a part of the great Seminole family,” said Ballard. “I have no doubt in my mind that Coach Hamilton and my new teammates are the perfect fit for me. I am ready to play at Florida State and I know that I am in the right hands with the coaching staff. I am very excited to get to Florida State and get started with my career as a Seminole.”

Ballard selected Florida State over scholarship offers from Syracuse, NC State, Maryland and Cincinnati.

Women’s basketball

Florida State has added three quality student-athletes as transfers for the 2020-21 season. Joining the Seminoles are graduate point guard Tiana England (St. John’s), rising sophomore guard Sara Bejedi (Arizona State) and rising junior forward Erin Howard (Auburn).

“We are thrilled to welcome these three talented young women to our Seminole family,” FSU coach Sue Semrau said. “Each brings skill, passion and energy at so many levels. We are a better basketball program as a result of these fine student-athletes choosing to finish their careers at Florida State.”

England was St. John’s starting point guard for each of the last three seasons, leading the Red Storm in assists in each of her playing years from 2017-20. In her redshirt junior year in 2019-20, she ranked third in the BIG EAST in assists with 162.

The native of Stamford, Conn., will be eligible immediately for the Seminoles. England’s transition to Florida State is an important one as FSU loses All-America point guard Nicki Ekhomu after the Bolingbrook, Ill., finished her four-year career.

England finishes her three playing seasons at St. John’s with 509 career assists, averaging an impressive 5.3 per game for her career. Her total assists number would rank second all-time already at FSU, with the school record being 602 by FSU legend Courtney Ward (2007-11). England’s assist totals would be even greater had the NCAA post-season not been canceled due to COVID-19.

As a sophomore, England was an All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention selection. In her St. John’s career, she averaged 9.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, shot 45.4 percent (119-of-262) and shot 31.4 percent from 3-point range (54-of-172). She played twice against FSU in 2018 and 2019, scoring 11 points with three assists this past season in a 74-70 win by FSU.

England’s experience could pay big dividends for the Seminoles. As a sophomore she led the BIG EAST in minutes per game with 36.9. She has played in 96 career games, starting 93 of them. One of her many career highlights was a 13-assist outing vs. Butler on Feb. 1, 2019.

Howard is a fast-rising forward who made a noticeable leap following her sophomore year at Auburn. The Madison, Wis., native more than doubled her scoring average, scoring 7.6 points per game, pulling down 4.2 rebounds, shooting 39.2 percent (80-of-204) from the floor and drilling 34.4 percent (45-of-131) from downtown.

Howard led Auburn in 3-point shooting and blocked shots (21) last season. She recently dropped a career-best 22 points at Missouri on Feb. 27 and had seven games with double-digit point totals as a sophomore. Howard ended last season with an impressive four-game stretch where she averaged 14.8 points per game.

Prior to attending Auburn, Howard was pegged as the nation’s 21st-rated forward according to ESPN Hoopgurlz. She was named to the USA Today All-USA Wisconsin First Team.

Bejedi is a 5-foot-7 point guard who played one season for the Sun Devils. The Helsinki, Finland, native was able to experience high-level competition in the Pac-12, playing in 31 games in 2019-20 alongside several experienced guards at Arizona State.

Bejedi’s build-up prior to coming to the United States has been huge. She excelled in several FIBA competitions, including playing two years on the Finnish Senior National Team. In U18 play, she averaged 18.5 points and 5.0 assists to help her national squad win a Nordic championship.

She also averaged 17.0 points in an eight-game tournament where she earned EuroBasket.com All-European Championship second-team honors in the U18 division.

Baseball

Leighton Alley is among the commitments with FSU baseball. Alley pitched at Tallahassee Community College, going 4-0 with two saves over the last two seasons. He had 49 strikeouts and just 15 walks in 39.1 innings with a 5.03 ERA.

“It’s always been a dream of mine,” Alley said. “I grew up watching Florida State baseball, football. Ever since I was little, it’s always been a goal of mine. For it to come true, it’s really exciting for me.”

Alley recalled going to FSU-Florida games as well as ACC Tournament games in Jacksonville years ago. A football-baseball prospect coming out of Ponte Vedra (Fla.) Nease, Alley opted to focus on baseball and attend TCC.

Women’s track and field

Savyon Toombs is transferring from Jacksonville to FSU. Toombs has won six Atlantic Sun sprint titles.

FSU sports information contributed to this report

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