Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Cardinal Class, November 12, 2014

STANFORD, Calif. – Displaying an expansive international recruiting reach, Stanford’s Setsuko Ishiyama Director of Women’s Basketball Tara VanDerveer announced the signing of four prep standouts to National Letters of Intent on Wednesday. The highly-regarded group, comprised of student-athletes from Ohio, New Mexico, Australia and Washington D.C., will join the Cardinal ahead of the 2015-16 campaign.
Shannon Coffee (Dayton, Ohio/Centerville), Alexa Romano (Albuquerque, N.M./La Cueva), Alanna Smith(Victoria, Australia/Wesley College) and Marta Sniezek (Washington D.C/National Cathedral), all ranked among the best in the nation at their positions, are impressive additions to a Stanford program that has captured 14 straight Pac-12 regular-season titles and advanced to six of the last seven Final Fours. The No. 6 Cardinal opens its regular-season on Friday night when it hosts Boston College in Maples Pavilion at 5:30 p.m.
“This class addresses our team needs with very capable and accomplished players at those positions,” VanDerveer said. “We have size in Shannon and Alanna and are also bringing in a pair of great guards in Alexa and Marta. When you recruit, a lot of intangibles come into play, which you can’t measure. But we have four student-athletes that will adjust to Stanford well and work hard.”
Coffee, a skilled interior prospect, is the 94th ranked recruit in the country according to Blue Star Basketball and the 17th rated post by ESPN HoopGurlz. She led Centerville High School and the Greater Western Ohio Conference (GWOC) in scoring as a junior, averaging more than 18 points per contest on 61 percent shooting to go along with 7.5 rebounds per game.
Coffee had 12 games in which she scored at least 20 points, including 30 in an 85-36 victory over Northmont on Jan. 8. She also tallied seven double-doubles in Centerville’s 27 games and was named First Team All-GWOC as the Elks finished 23-4 overall and 9-1 in conference play.
“Shannon loves to run the floor, she’s an excellent passer and can score,” VanDerveer added. “She’s a 6-foot-5 post player that is a very knowledgeable, loves to play and is a great student of the game.”
A 2013-14 Associated Press Division I All-Ohio Second Team honoree, the 6-foot-5 Coffee's field goal percentage, free throw percentage, points, rebounds, steals, blocks and assists averages have all improved in each of her prep seasons. She owns a school record for most points scored in a season (488) and this summer was selected to play on the Ohio Elite Team sponsored by the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association. The squad featured the top ten upcoming high school seniors in the state of Ohio and played other states including Kentucky, Iowa, Indiana and Wisconsin in the 2014 National Rising Senior Event in Indianapolis sponsored by the National High School Basketball Coaches Association from July 14-15.
“I chose Stanford because the opportunity to attend a top-ranked academic institution and join an elite basketball program was too great to pass up,” Coffee said of her decision to come to The Farm. “The thought that I will be there next year is so exciting and I can't wait to start this new adventure. I am really looking forward to playing alongside some of the best in the nation. I know they will challenge me to be the best I can be.”
Romano, a sharp-shooting 5-foot-10 guard, averaged 21.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists as a junior for La Cueva High School in Albuquerque. In last season’s District 2-5A Championship on March 1, Romano scored 26 of her 32 points in the second half to lead the Bears to a 57-53 win.
“Alexa can play one or the two,” VanDerveer said. “She has both high-level speed and quickness and is a great fit for our team and our program.”
The versatile Romano reached the 30-point plateau six times in 2013-14, topping out by pouring in 36 in an 81-37 win over Cleveland High School on Jan. 8. She shot 46 percent from the floor (218-of-475), 42 percent from behind the arc (70-of-167), 83 percent from the line (116-of-140) and handed out five or more assists 10 times in 29 games. She also led the Bears in steals (2.7) and blocks (1.3) per game. La Cueva went 20-9 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2014 5A State Basketball Championships.
She was the 5A Player of the Year as a sophomore (2013), the classification’s Defensive Player of the Year as a junior (2014) and has been a First Team All-State selection each of the last two seasons.
“Stanford is the best fit for me from both an academic and athletic standpoint,” Romano commented about what attracted her to Stanford. “I also love the California weather and beautiful campus. I'm excited to put on my Cardinal uniform next year and join my future teammates and coaches in continuing Stanford's great basketball tradition.”
Romano’s exploits aren’t restricted to the hardwood. In her freshman year, she won the 5A state title in the 400 meters with a time of 56.89 seconds. After not competing as a sophomore due to injury, this past May Romano finished first at the state meet in the long jump (17’ 10.50”). She was also part of La Cueva’s 4x200 relay team, which not only won the title with a time of 1:41.59, but also broke a state record that had stood since 1981.
Smith, a 6-foot-3 post from Down Under, is a five-star recruit according to Prospects Nation and a veteran of Basketball Australia’s national team program. She represented her country at the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship for Women in Amsterdam, averaging 5.6 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. Australia’s fifth-place tournament finish included a 15-point, seven-rebound, nine-block performance for Smith against Japan on Aug. 22. Her FIBA career started at the 2011 FIBA Oceanic U16 Championship for Women.
“Alanna has some versatility,” VanDerveer said. “She’s a post player who possesses a perimeter shot – so a proverbial stretch-4. She is really fun to be around, is very motivated, very positive and we see her having great upside.”
The mobile post is currently on the roster of the Jayco Australian Gems Team for the 2014 FIBA Oceania U19 Championships taking place from December 1-6 in Suva, the capital of Fiji. Australia will face the likes of Fiji, Samoa, Guam, Tahiti and New Zealand in the six-day competition, with the winner securing the region’s sole place at the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women in Russia next July.
“Stanford ticked every box I was looking for in a college,” Smith said of her choice. “Its reputation for both academics and basketball is unparalleled.”
In her first season with the Nunawading Spectres of the South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL) in 2014, Smith averaged 12.3 points and 5.9 rebounds in 18 minutes of action per game and shot over 50 percent from the floor.
Off the court, she has also volunteered for Red Dust Role Models, a charity that delivers health promotion programs to remote indigenous Australian communities.
Sniezek, a consensus top-100 recruit, is a five-star talent rated as the 39th best player in the country according to ESPN HoopGurlz. The 5-foot-8 dynamo has paced the Washington metropolitan area in scoring over the past two seasons and is the reigning Gatorade District of Columbia Girls Basketball Player of the Year. As a junior, she averaged 30.6 points, 8.5 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 6.6 steals to lead her team to the D.C. State Athletic Association (DCSAA) semifinals. A three-time First Team All-Independent School League selection and 2013-14 All-Met first teamer, she averaged 27.3 points per game in the DCSAA tournament.
Her production in 2013-14 was consistent with that of a sophomore campaign that saw Sniezek average 29.5 points per game. This past year, she hit 49 three-pointers, shot nearly 80 percent from the free throw line and scored 30 or more points in 10 games.
In late May, Sniezek was selected by the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame to participate in a program honoring young basketball players for their achievements in sport and landed her No. 23 Cathedral jersey in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame’s Ring of Honor display in Knoxville, Tenn.
“Marta is a very savvy player and a pure point guard,” VanDerveer commented. “We have watched her play a lot. She’s physical and is also a soccer All-American so she is very athletic. She is heady and, more than anything, is extremely competitive.”
Less than three weeks ago, the multi-sport star was selected as a NSCAA High School Soccer All-American and will join 41 other elite soccer players from across the nation to take part in the Second Annual High School All-American Game on Dec. 13 in Raleigh, NC. The versatile forward scored 26 goals in 2014, the second-highest total in the Washington metropolitan area, as the Eagles won the ISL AA championship and their third consecutive DCSAA title. Sniezek earned MVP honors at the 2014 DCSAA championship game for her two-goal performance in National Cathedral’s 3-2 win over St. John’s and her total high school production included 50 career goals and 17 assists.
“I initially considered Stanford for both its academic and athletic excellence, which was validated by getting to know the coaches over throughout the recruiting process,” Sniezek said of her decision. “During my official visit, my parents and I were completely blown away by the campus itself, but I was even more impressed with the players and everyone associated with the program.  I was looking for a place with people that shared my values and work ethic and I really sensed that at Stanford.”
A member of the National Society of High School Scholars, Sniezek has volunteered locally on behalf of the Haiti Relief Fund, Jill’s House offering services to children with special needs, and So Others May Eat, delivering food and medical supplies to families in need in the greater D.C. area.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Taylor Rooks of Gill St. Bernard's is The Star-Ledger girls basketball Player of the Year, 2013-2014

Chris Ryan,, March 30, 2014

Entering her senior season, Taylor Rooks knew that several personal milestones were on the horizon. But instead of worrying about when or how she would reach them, the Gill St. Bernard’s forward just set her mind to helping her team.
If she set her mind to the team’s success, everything else would work out. She just wanted to enjoy the ride.
"The milestones are very cool, not a lot of people get to experience those. But I wouldn’t say they’re necessarily in the front of my mind,” Rooks said. "I’m just focused on winning a game. But when I did get something, I could sit back and say this something that I’m very fortunate to be able to do.”
With the team’s success, the personal milestones followed. Rooks reached 2,000 career points in December before breaking the Gill St. Bernard’s scoring record on Feb. 26th. She also reached 1,000 career rebounds on Jan. 25.
Rooks again proved to be an invaluable asset for the Somerset County school, as the Stanford-bound senior posted a staggering statical season, backing up the performance that earned her  State Player of the year honors as a junior in 2012-13.
Rooks averaged 23.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.9 blocks and 2.8 steals per game, as she helped Gill St. Bernard’s win the Somerset County Tournament and reach the final of the South Jersey, Non-Public B tournament.
For her career, Rooks finished with 2,600 points and 1,193 rebounds. But her impact on Gill St. Bernard’s goes far beyond the stats on the court.
From day one, Rooks served as mentor to the rest of the team, helping build chemistry for the long season ahead.
“We had a lot of new players, and some of these are girls playing March basketball for the first time, and it can be a little intimidating playing with a kid of that caliber, but Taylor did a great job on and off the court,” Gill St. Bernard’s coach Josuf Dema said. "It goes back to the fall when they started their training. She built confidence in them, whether it be making the extra pass or just talking to them on the side."
That mentoring helped in the final of the Somerset County Tournament, when Rooks fouled out with 45 second left in the game. The game went to overtime, and Rooks’ teammates were able to finish off a  55-51 victory against Franklin.
While she had to watch and encourage her team from the bench at the end of the game, the victory serves as one of her favorite memories from this season and her high school career.
“Our team stepped up,” Rooks said. "It was probably my favorite game out of four years of high school, and probably the moment that stood out to me the most.”
Rooks still finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds in the final, one of 21 double-doubles she recorded this season.
While Rooks compiled strong numbers in different categories throughout the season, her mentality never changed from game to game. Rooks wanted to be the team player and leader that set Gill St. Bernard's up for success.
"It comes naturally to her. There was never a game where she was either just shooting or just passing, she would usually make the right decision,” Dema said. "She did that consistently throughout the year, which is always great to see."
With her ability to control the paint and shoot, it could be easy for Rooks to try and rack up the points every night. But she knew that success goes far beyond the scoring column.
"A lot of people, the first thing they’ll look at is points. It’s all the other stuff that dictates whether or not you’re going to do well,” Rooks said. “My goal is not to say, 'I want to get 10 rebounds.’ I don’t think about that, I just want to do what I have to to win.”

Friday, March 28, 2014

McPhee Voted AP Washington Player of Year, March 27, 2014

Mount Rainier star Brittany McPhee has repeated as The Associated Press Washington girls' state player of the year.

McPhee was honored on Thursday after voting by sports writers and editors from around the state. She was also honored as the player of the year in her respective classification.

The Stanford-bound McPhee led Mount Rainier to the state championship game in Class 4A after a season during which she averaged 27 points and 14 rebounds per game. Her 2,815 career points are believed to be a state record.

McPhee is a three-time honoree as the Class 4A player of the year, earning the award as the top player in her classification since she was a sophomore. She'll head off to Stanford as one of the most decorated girls high school players in state history.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Taylor Rooks of Gill St. Bernard's named Courier News Girls Basketball Player of the Year

Simeon Pincus,, March 24, 2014

Taylor Rooks is certainly ready for the next level. And while the Gill St. Bernard’s High School superstar is looking forward beginning her collegiate career at Stanford University next season, first there was the matter of her senior varsity season to attend to, and, for the second straight season, nobody did it better.

Since joining the Knights as sophomore, after her family moved back to Central Jersey from Western New York State, the Princeton-born star and, now, two-time Courier News Girls Basketball Player of the Year, has made her presence felt, leading Gill St. Bernard’s to the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions final two years ago, and back to the sectional final last season.

This year, Rooks capped her varsity career with another highly successful campaign, as the Knights finished 26-4, winning their third consecutive Somerset County Tournament championship, sharing the Skyland Conference Delaware Division crown with Franklin, and returning to the Non-Public B South sectional final.

And while her attention will soon be turning 3,000 miles west, Rooks not only finished the year averaging 23.6 points and 10.7 rebounds per game, but having a great time doing it.

“This year was definitely the most fun year,” said Rooks, who has referred to this year’s edition of the Knights as her favorite team she’s ever played on. “I really enjoyed playing with my teammates, and my coaches. It really made it special and fun. I feel really connected to all the players this year, especially. It just makes every practice, every game and off the court in school so much more fun, because they’re your best friends. This year was just so much fun. It was great.”

And although players of Rooks status can sometimes not only be intimidating to opponents, but even their teammates, that was never the case with Rooks, who has had no trouble fitting in. And while she often goes about her business on the court in a predominantly quiet and almost effortless sort of way, her presence is never absent, her play always unselfish and her leadership invaluable.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Natrona's Johnsons earn all-state honors

Natrona County senior Kaylee Johnson puts up a shot over Kelly Walsh player as Kelly Walsh faced Natrona County in the annual Peach Basket Classic on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, at Swede Erickson Thunderbird Gym in Casper, Wyo. Natrona County won 69-41., March 20, 2014

Natrona County senior Kaylee Johnson was named to the Wyoming Coaches Association Class 4A girls all-state team for the third consecutive year Thursday.
Johnson, the three-time Wyoming Gatorade Player of the Year, led the Fillies (23-4) to a 33-28 victory over Cheyenne East in Saturday's championship game.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Natrona's Johnson caps illustrious career with elusive team title

Cheyenne East's player struggles to shoot over Natrona County's Kaylee Johnson as Natrona County faced Cheyenne East on Saturday, March 15, 2014, during the Class 4A Wyoming State High School Girls Basketball Championship at the Casper Events Center. Natrona County defeated Cheyenne East 33-28 to take the Class 4A state title. 

Sisco Molina,, March 16, 2014

Kaylee Johnson has a room full of individual awards, but the only thing on her mind was a state championship. She saw her Natrona County teammates win one in volleyball in October, and she wanted one of her own.
"I would give up all the individual awards just for this one," said Johnson. "I thought I'd be emotional, but honestly with this team and its confidence, we expected this. We all knew we were going to go strong until the end and ultimately win the prize."
The Fillies defeated Cheyenne East 33-28 on Saturday in the final of the Class 4A Wyoming State High School Girls Basketball Championship.
Johnson finished with just five points in the game, but pulled down 18 rebounds in the victory. It wasn't the best game of her career, but she helped the Fillies capture their first state championship since 2000 and won the award that's both eluded her and meant the most to her.
"We all played strong, and we did it for each other," said Johnson. "None of us played for ourselves. We won for each other.
"We knew it was going to be a battle from the beginning and that it would take all 32 minutes."
Johnson, who will continue her career at Stanford, will take a short break before beginning her next basketball challenge.
"I guess all I can do is prep for college," Johnson said. "I'll get summer workouts going and get ready for the next chapter of my life. I'm excited. I'll be sad to leave these girls, this program and this coach, but I'll support them no matter what, and I know they'll be supporting me, too."

Brittany McPhee makes Parade All-America team

Sandy Ringer,, March 14, 2014

The honors keep piling up for Mount Rainier senior Brittany McPhee.
And they keep getting bigger, too.
One day after being named the Gatorade Washington Girls Basketball Player of the Year for the third year in a row, news comes that McPhee is on the exclusive Parade All-America team.
Only 20 seniors from across the country made the team. McPhee, a 6-foot forward who has signed with Stanford, is the lone Washington player on the list. 
A big round of applause to one of Washington’s all-time best players — congratulations, Brittany!


Natrona County (Wyo.) senior Kaylee Johnson is the Gatorade Wyoming Girls Basketball Player of the Year., March 14, 2014

HE WINNER: Kaylee Johnson
School: Natrona County (Casper, Wyo.)
Grade: Senior
Position: Guard/forward
Height: 6-foot-2
Athletic achievement: She led the Fillies to an 18-4 record and a berth in the Class 4A state tournament, scheduled to begin March 13. Johnson averaged 16.7 points, 14.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 4.3 blocks while shooting 56 percent from the floor through 22 games. The 2011-12 and 2012-13 Gatorade Wyoming Girls Basketball Player of the Year, Johnson led all of Class A in scoring, rebounding, assists and blocked shots.
Academic excellence: Johnson has maintained a 4.0 GPA.
Exemplary character: A member of the National Honor Society, she has volunteered locally on behalf of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Salvation Army and Kids Against Hunger in addition to assisting the elderly at an area retirement home.
“Kaylee Johnson is a very selfless teammate,” said Natrona County head coachDouglas Diehl. “She is also very coachable and an extremely competitive kid. She just keeps developing her game, as she demonstrated this year by leading the state in assists.”
THE FUTURE: Johnson has signed with Stanford.

Brittany McPhee earns 3rd Gatorade Player of the Year award

Sandy Ringer,, March 14, 2014

For the third year in a row, Brittany McPhee of Mount Rainier has been chosen the Gatorade Washington Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

McPhee, a senior who has signed with Stanford, continutes to add to her cache of awards. She is a three-time Star Times selection and was voted to the all-state team as a sophomore and junior (this year’s all-state team has yet to be announced).
She was the repeat MVP of the 4A state tournament last week after leading the Rams to the championship game, where they lost to Gonzaga Prep. Mount Rainier placed third in both 2013 and 2012.
Complete press release.

CHICAGO (March 13, 2014) — In its 29th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with USA TODAY High School Sports, today announced Brittany McPhee of Mt. Rainier High School as its 2013-14 Gatorade Washington Girls Basketball Player of the Year. McPhee is the first Gatorade Washington Girls Basketball Player of the Year to be chosen from Mt. Rainier High School.
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court, distinguishes McPhee as Washington’s best high school girls basketball player. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Basketball Player of the Year award announced in March, McPhee joins an elite alumni association of past state girls basketball award- winners, including Candace Parker (2001-02, Naperville Central HS, Ill.), Diana Taurasi (1998-99 & 1999-00, Don Antonio Lugo HS, Calif.), Maya Moore (2005-06 Collins Hill HS, Ga.), Rashanda McCants (2004-05, Asheville HS, N.C.), Shyra Ely (1999-00, Ben Davis HS, Ind.) and Lisa Leslie (1988-89, Morningside HS, Calif.)
The state’s two-time returning Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year, McPhee averaged 27.1 points, 12.8 rebounds, 3.0 steals, 2.8 blocks and 2.3 assists per game this past season, leading the Rams (25-4) to the Class 4A state championship game. Also the returning Player of the Year as named by The News Tribune and Associated Press, the 6- foot senior wing shot 52.3 percent from the field and 79.7 percent from the free throw line. In three Class 4A state tournament games, McPhee averaged 24.3 points, 13.0 rebounds and 5.3 blocks, capturing Most Valuable Player honors for the second consecutive season.
McPhee has maintained a 4.00 GPA in the classroom. In addition to serving as a student ambassador at the Inter-high leadership conference, she has donated her time as a youth basketball and soccer instructor.
“She improved at every aspect of the game even though she was already the best player in the state,” said Keith Wasberg, head coach of rival Tahoma High. “Her intelligence impresses me most. It’s beyond a basketball IQ. My defensive strategy was to trap her and leave perimeter players open, every time, because the only chance against her is that she doesn’t make mistakes. This year, she became smarter.”
McPhee has signed a National Letter of Intent to play basketball on scholarship at Stanford University this fall.
The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by the Gatorade high school sports leadership team in partnership with USA TODAY High School Sports, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.
Three time winner McPhee joins Gatorade Washington Girls Basketball Players of the Year Erika Johnson (2010-11, Holy Names Academy), Mercedes Wetmore (2009-10, Auburn Riverside), Lindsey Moore (2008-09, Kentwood), Ashley Corral (2007-08, Prairie), and Angie Bjorklund (2006–07, University) among the state’s list of former award winners.


Gill St. Bernard’s School (Gladstone, N.J.) senior Taylor Rooks is the Gatorade New Jersey Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

HE WINNER: Taylor Rooks
School: Gill St. Bernard’s School (Gladstone, N.J.)
Grade: Senior
Position: Guard
Height: 6-foot
Athletic achievement: She led the Knights to a 26-4 record and the North Jersey Non-Public B title game this past season. The state’s returning Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year, Rooks averaged 23.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.8 steals, 2.8 assists and 1.9 blocked shots per game. An Honorable Mention All-American as named by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, she is a two-time First Team All-State honoree and is rated as the nation’s No. 19 recruit in the Class of 2014 by ESPN.
Academic excellence: Rooks has maintained a 4.20 GPA.
Exemplary character: She has volunteered on behalf of a local food bank and Melina’s White Light, a foundation that supports childhood cancer research.  
“She’s a very athletic scorer who can shoot the 3-pointer or slash to the basket,” saidMary Coyle Klinger, head coach at Rutgers Prep. “She’s extremely quick and she does whatever it takes to win.”  
THE FUTURE: Rooks has signed with Stanford.