NEOSHO, Mo. — Five Neosho High School seniors were recognized on Monday inside the La-Z-Boy End Zone Facility for having signed their national letters of intent to continue their academic and athletic careers with their colleges and universities of choice.
Carter Baslee and Isaiah Green have the opportunity to remain football teammates since they both signed with local NCAA Division II school Missouri Southern, fellow football player Aidan Howell signed with NCAA Division III school Westminster (Fulton, Missouri), Karlee Ellick will take her 6-foot-2 height and room for growth to JUCO powerhouse Johnson County (Overland Park, Kansas) and Maddie Ebbinghaus has fashioned an opportunity for herself to go into fashion and compete in track and field at NCAA-III school Lasell University in Newton, Massachusetts, a school only 10 minutes away from Boston College.
BASLEE, GREEN STAY CLOSE TO HOME AT MSSU
Baslee and Green are two of 43 recruits that signed with Missouri Southern, a destination less than 30 minutes away—34 high school signees and nine transfers from across the nation will join head coach Atiba Bradley and his Lions squad coming off a 4-7 season in 2022.
“Obviously, Joplin is close to home,” Baslee said. “It’s a nice place to go. My mom kept me in check. She made sure that I stayed close, so she could be there whenever I needed her.
“Ultimately, the whole goal is not to redshirt. If I have to redshirt, then I am going to try and get bigger and more in the weight room to gain mass.”
“It feels great,” Green said. “I just want to be able to help the team as much as I can and make big plays. It seemed like they’re a family and that’s what pushed me to commit there. They seemed like they were interested in me, and it seemed like they had a plan for me and like the best fit for me.”
Baslee, predominantly an offensive lineman in high school and listed as a 6-4, 243-pound defensive lineman on his National Signing Day profile, displayed versatile athleticism during his time at Neosho with basketball and baseball giving Baslee a three-sport profile.
“We had a young offensive line, and he did a great job being the leader of that group,” Neosho football coach Brandon Taute said. “He also played some defensive line for us at times when he was needed and he was on every special team, which is rare for an offensive lineman. He was not only on every special team, but he was the leading tackler on special teams, and he recovered four fumbles. He’s an extremely versatile athlete, he’s worked extremely hard to get to this point, and we’re excited to watch him grow.”
Green, a three-sport athlete like Baslee with basketball and track and field alongside football, symbolized an improved Neosho football team during his senior year with his individual progress mirroring a leap from 1-9 to 4-6 and being a more competitive team overall in Taute’s second season as head coach.
“He started both ways for us,” Taute said. “He had maybe one of the best offseasons that I think I’ve ever seen a kid have. His growth from his junior year to his senior year was truly unbelievable. He had 112 receptions for over 1,400 yards and 17 touchdowns, and also had two interceptions on the other side of the ball. His stats are unbelievable, we’re extremely proud of him, and just excited to see him grow and continue his education.”
HOWELL TACKLES COLLEGE CHOICE WITH WESTMINSTER
Howell, a key contributor on the defensive side his senior year for Neosho, will join a Westminster football team coming off a brutal 1-9 season during which the Blue Jays only scored 7.1 points and surrendered 32.8 points per game.
The Blue Jays finished 3-5 in 2021 and 4-6 in 2019.
They’re not to be confused with the Westminster College — also NCAA-III — in Pennsylvania, who are the Titans.
“First-year goal is to start,” Howell said. “They’re not redshirting me. Long term goal is graduating and getting a degree. It makes me very humble and happy.”
Howell will look to help the Blue Jays improve upon their defensive performance last season.
“He started at corner for us last year and he moved inside to play outside linebacker, and he went back and played some safety for us at times,” Taute said. “Very versatile on the defensive side of the ball. He was our leading tackler with 110 total tackles, 74 solo, and just always brought that energy and juice to our team. We’re excited to see him continue his journey at the next level.”
ELLICK INKS WITH ELITE JUNIOR COLLEGE HOOPS PROGRAM
Quite simply, the Johnson County Cavaliers have one of the best junior college women’s basketball programs in the country.
Under head coach Ben Conrad, Johnson County has recorded nine 30-win seasons, including eight straight 30-win campaigns from 2009-10 through 2016-17, and won a NJCAA national title in 2015 and finished NJCAA runner-up in 2017 and 2021.
Conrad took over the Johnson County women’s basketball program in 2008.
“They’re a great program,” Ellick said. “They’re undefeated currently and their coach (Conrad) really stuck out to me. He has a passion for the game, so I definitely thought that was the place to go.
“Yes, I always hold myself to high expectations, as well as my coaches, and so it was definitely a fit to go to a program that has high expectations.”
Ellick definitely made a strong impression on Neosho first-year head coach Daniel Durst, who joined former Neosho head coach Ryan Madison’s coaching staff during Ellick’s junior season.
“I don’t know if I’ve coached a more dedicated athlete,” Durst said. “She has progressed so far in just the two seasons that I’ve watched her play. I’m extremely proud. She’s averaging a double-double in points and rebounds right now on the season. She is definitely a go-getter, and I’m super excited to see what she does moving forward into the college level. We’re confident that Johnson County can get her to where she needs to be.”
EBBINGHAUS TO EXPLORE PASSION FOR FASHION, TRACK
While Baslee and Green signed with a college less than 30 minutes away from Neosho High School, fellow senior Maddie Ebbinghaus will be in a different time zone when she attends Lasell University in Newton, Massachusetts, 22 hours and approaching 1,500 miles from Neosho High.
“I am super excited,” Ebbinghaus said. “I’ve always wanted to major in fashion. That was the dream, and Boston is a big fashion place. I wasn’t originally looking for a school to run track, but I found this school that had a fashion program and a track team, so it was perfect.
“Maybe a little bit, but Boston is really like my home, I can feel it … I think I would regret not going up there more.”
Ebbinghaus still has one more high school track season ahead in the sprints.
“Last year, she was peaking at the right time and was ever so close to getting to go to state,” Neosho girls track coach Terri Kemna said. “I think she’ll be able to qualify this year. She leads by example. She’s extremely coachable and dependable. She should be able to step into their program and be one of their top runners right off the bat. Also, in the classroom, she is the ideal model student-athlete that we want for Neosho. I’m very proud of her and I’m glad that I helped coach her all these years, and she has a bright future.”