Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Women’s basketball at UCLA dreams of top tier recruitment

Women's basketball at UCLA dreams of top tier recruitment

Multitasking isn’t new to Corey Close. This summer, the UCLA coach led the US U19 team to the gold medal and is president of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. So when the UCLA season opening game fell on the same day as the day the players were signed, the UCLA staff couldn’t handle it.

It was a doubly successful day for No. 20 Bruins, who not only kicked off their season with a win over Pepperdine, but also looked to a bright future by signing five recruits to help shape what is expected to be the best recruiting class. in the country.

With guards Kiki Rice and Londin Jones, striker Gabriela Hakes and centers Christine Ivoala and Lina Sontag presenting their national letters of intent on Wednesday, the first day of the signing period, the Bruins have what could be their best class under Close. The group, which includes two additional verbal commitments, rivals the 2014 class, which fielded possible WNBA drafts Jordin Canada and Monique Billings and led the Bruins to their second NCAA Regional Final.

“This lesson was so important, but [the message] “Came to bring us to a foundation and a level of alignment that we’ve never been to,” Close said of the class previously ranked first. “I am so grateful and proud for what this class did. … But we have not reached the Final Four yet. Since I’ve been here, we haven’t won the Pac-12 championship yet.

“In fact, when I looked at this particular class, it was about who has the drive, who has the mindset, who has the sacrifice, who has the heart of a lion to take over from such great players, people who have come to them and brought us to the permanent contenders for the title of champion? “

Rice, the country’s No. 2 main avenue, is the headliner. The 5’11 point guard is a two-time youth gold medalist for the US national team, has the highest rating in program history, and has turned down offers from Connecticut, Arizona, Stanford and Duke.

An elite leading defender who is expected to lead UCLA’s attack, Rice will be paired with Jones, a 5’5 ” defender who Close expects to play with and without. Close likened Jones to Japrice Dean, another undersized guard who excelled as an attacking guard.

Jones, who is ending her high school career at Corona Santiago, is one of the top two local recruits to choose from the Bruins, joining Gabriele Jakes of Camarillo. The 6-foot striker is the younger sister of UCLA men’s basketball star Jaime and plays with the same tenacity and tenacity as her brother to lead the Bruins to the Final Four last season.

“The Jaquez blue-collar path, competitiveness and intangibles are inherited from this family,” Close said. “This is exactly what Habs has. … You just can’t put a price on what she brings with each thing. “

Along with two local stars, the Bruins have demonstrated their far-reaching recruiting abilities in the latter class, which includes promising candidates from four states and three countries. Rice is from Bethesda, Maryland, and Ivoala, from Texas, where the San Antonio native climbed to # 49 on ESPN’s recruiting list.

Two years after the University of California Los Angeles signed a contract with an exclusively international recruiting class, foreign talent continues to flock to Westwood, the latest example being Sontag, a member of Germany’s youth national team.

UCLA also has verbal promises from New York quarterback Paris Clarke and Spanish point guard Elena Buenavida Estevez.

The large subscription class will guarantee significant turnover for the Bruins for the second straight year, with eight new players this year. According to Close, the latter group of players are eager to start the game. Rice is already planning Zoom movie disruptions and has studied UCLA’s first game against Pepperdine. Hakes asked Close how many tickets she could line up for friends and family hoping to see a new batch of recruits take UCLA to new heights.

“We not only want to win, but we want to win with others, and we want people to feel like they’re a part of that,” Close said. “I hope people will like our program and come with us and have a great time at the championships.”

Nation World News Desk
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