Monday, November 18, 2013

Taylor Rooks signs with Stanford

Mike Becker,, November 14, 2013

In the girls basketball circuit, Gill St. Bernard’s senior Taylor Rooks signed her national letter of intent Wednesday morning to the powerhouse Stanford women’s basketball program, making official a decision she made four weeks ago in turning down offers from fellow finalists Princeton and Harvard as well as UConn. 

Rooks, who was born in Princeton but grew up in upstate New York, averaged 27.4 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.2 steals and 1.7 blocks per game last year – her second at Gill. The 2013 Courier News Girls Basketball Player of the Year led her team to a 23-5 record, the Somerset County Tournament title and the NJSIAA Non-Public South B final.

“It gives the best of both worlds, academically as well as athletically,” Rooks, who plans to study engineering, said at the time. “They compete (against) a national schedule. They’re No. 1 or No. 2 every year, and they’re expected to do well every year. I feel it has the academic as well as the athletic push that I need.”

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Natrona’s Kaylee Johnson Signs With Stanford [AUDIO]

Kevin Koile,, November 13, 2013

Senior Filly will soon spread her wings and fly like a Cardinal.

Kaylee Johnson of Natrona, has made her college choice, signing the line to women’s college basketball at Stanford.

The current 2-time Wyoming Gatorade Player of the Year averaged 17.9 points per game, shot 50% from the field, with 14.8 rebounds per game, and 5.2 blocks per game, as a junior.
Click on the play button to hear portions of her interview at her press conference.
This isn’t the first time that Stanford has searched Wyoming for a recruit.
Kristen Newlin, a 2003 graduate of Riverton, played 4 years with Stanford, and was drafted in the 2007 WNBA draft.
She currently plays for the Women’s National Basketball Team in Turkey.

Natrona County's Kaylee Johnson signs with Stanford

Jack Nowlin,, November 14, 2013

Kaylee Johnson put aside her long-ago dream of playing basketball at Casper College on Wednesday when the Natrona County High School senior signed a national letter of intent to compete for perennial power Stanford University.
Johnson was one of three players who signed with Stanford on Wednesday. She joins Brittany McPhee of Des Moines, Iowa, and Taylor Rooks of Warren, N.J.
"Brittany, Kaylee and Taylor bring a variety of talents as well as a lot of energy that will fit right into our program," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said in a statement.
The Cardinal has made 24 trips to the NCAA tournament and won two national championships under VanDerveer's watch.
On Wednesday, Johnson smiled when recalling her childhood dream.
“I really had the dream of playing at Casper College when I was growing up and going to their games,” Johnson said. “I thought that would be so fun.”
But as Johnson and her game continued to grow, Casper College soon became an afterthought.
“I got my first letter before my freshman year and I thought that was kind of cool,” Johnson said. “And then more and more [letters] came in and I figured I could go to college and play somewhere.”
That somewhere just happens to be Stanford, which is currently ranked No. 3 in The Associated Press Top 25.
Johnson made an immediate impact at Natrona County, leading the state in rebounding and blocked shots as a freshman. And she continued to improve. Johnson averaged 21 points and 13 rebounds as a sophomore, leading the Fillies to the Class 4A state championship game. Last year Johnson, who often faced double-teams and box-and-one defenses designed to stop her, averaged 17.9 points, 14.8 rebounds and 5.2 blocked shots per game.
Johnson earned back-to-back Wyoming Gatorade Player of the Year awards. 
“I’ve had kids that were driven and worked hard on developing their game, and then toward the end it fades,” Natrona coach Doug Diehl said. “But Kaylee just keeps getting stronger. She has a mental toughness that is like nothing I’ve ever seen.”
The 6-foot-3 Johnson already holds the program records in points, rebounds and blocked shots and enters this season fourth in steals.
Johnson said her original goal of playing at Casper College began to fade when she started playing AAU basketball with traveling teams in Colorado and Montana.
“At first, it was important to me to stay close to home and not venture out too much,” she said. “But as time went on and especially traveling with AAU basketball during the summer, I realized how fun it would be to go somewhere and get out of Casper, Wyoming. After I took the visit to Stanford I realized I didn’t want to be anywhere else.”
In the end, Johnson had narrowed her choices to Stanford, Colorado, Boston College and Arizona State before finally selecting the Cardinal.
Stanford, in addition to being one of the top academic institutions in the nation, has been a consistent model of success in women’s basketball since VanDerveer took over the program prior to the 1985-86 season.
“It’s the best mix of education and a basketball program I could find in the nation,” Johnson said. “I love the campus and everyone is so friendly and so happy to be there there’s no place better to be.”
The Cardinal like to get up and down the floor, a style of play for which Johnson is perfectly suited.
“She has a motor that you can’t coach,” Diehl said. “She outworks everybody on the floor and I knew she could be a Division I player if that’s what she wanted.
“She wants to play at the highest level. She doesn’t just want to be on the team, she wants to be the real thing.”

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Mount Rainier High basketball star Brittany McPhee chooses Stanford

Mount Rainier High School basketball star Brittany McPhee faxes her letter of intent to Stanford on Wednesday morning.
Todd Milles,, November 13, 2013

 — Right on cue, Brittany McPhee showed up in the library at Mount Rainier High School on Wednesday morning holding two important items.
One was a Stanford sweatshirt. The three-time SPSL North girls basketball player of the year was signing her national letter of intent to play for the Cardinal.
The other was a cookie sheet of raspberry scones. Per school tradition, an athlete signing an NCAA Division I scholarship was strongly advised to bring in breakfast goodies before the ceremony could begin.
The night before the biggest basketball moment of her life, McPhee and her father, Bryce, were baking.
"I helped," she said with a big smile.
In the past three seasons, McPhee has helped out Mount Rainier High School in a number of ways – primarily putting the Rams on the map of elite Northwest girls’ basketball programs.
"This has brought a lot of respect to our team, and our program and our school," Mount Rainier girls basketball coach Bob Bolam said. "It definitely hasn’t been me – I’ve just kind of gotten out of the way and let her play."
The non-football early signing period kicked off Wednesday, so this was McPhee's moment. She arrived well before the 7 a.m. signing ceremony.
Also in attendance was McPhee’s family, including her parents and twin sister, Jordan. Bolam and his coaching staff were also there as the star guard sat down at a table and inked her signature on the required paperwork.
From the main office, McPhee faxed her letter of intent to Stanford at 7:31 a.m. That is when she officially became a Cardinal.
"Really excited, I guess," McPhee said. "I slept well."
Stanford was one of a number of universities to contact McPhee, a 6-foot guard/forward, in September 2012. It wasn’t until Cardinal assistant coach Kate Paye showed up at the Class 4A state championships last March when things started to get serious.
“I’ve always wanted to go there since I saw them play when I was little,” McPhee said. “I didn’t know it was a reality until probably the state tournament until they were there watching me play.”
The Cardinal offered a scholarship in late June. And after McPhee finished up summer basketball in July, she sat down to decide among Stanford, Gonzaga and Nebraska as her final three schools.
In August, she gave an oral commitment to play for the Pac-12 Conference powerhouse.
McPhee joins power forward Kaylee Johnson (Natrona County High School in Wyoming) and fellow wing/off guard Taylor Rooks (Gill St. Bernard’s School in New Jersey) in the Cardinal’s class for 2014.
“She is going to one of the two best programs in the nation,” Bolam said. “It will challenge her. That is a good thing.”

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Three Sign With Cardinal, November 13, 2013

Setsuko Ishiyama Director of Women’s Basketball Tara VanDerveer announced the signing of Brittany McPhee, Kaylee Johnson and Taylor Rooks to National Letters of Intent Wednesday.

Johnson (Casper, Wyo./Natrona County HS), McPhee (Des Moines, Wash./Mount Rainier HS) and Rooks (Warren, N.J./Gill St. Bernard’s School) will join the Cardinal program ahead of the 2014-15 season.
“This is a very talented, very exciting group of young women that will be coming to Stanford next year,” said VanDerveer. “Brittany, Kaylee and Taylor bring a variety of talents as well as a lot of energy that will fit right into our program. I am very pleased to have them join the Stanford family.”
The trio joins a Stanford team that has captured 13 straight Pac-12 regular-season titles as well as the past seven Pac-12 Tournament crowns. Stanford is currently 1-1 in 2013-14, splitting the season-opening road trip at Boston College and Connecticut. The Cardinal opens its home campaign at Maples Pavilion this weekend, hosting Cal Poly Friday night at 7 p.m. and UC Davis Sunday at 2 p.m.
Johnson, a two-time Wyoming Gatorade Player of the Year (2012-13), is a 6-3 forward who casts an imposing defensive presence on opponents. The Casper, Wyo. native set a career high with 15 blocks in a game against Billings High School in 2012-13, and that year averaged 5.9 blocks per game in addition to 18.0 points, 13.9 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game as Natrona County reached the state 4A semifinals. In 2010-11 Johnson led Class 4A in scoring and rebounding and helped lead her team to the state title game.
“Kaylee is a shot blocker and a very energetic post player,” VanDerveer said. “She has proven that she can score and rebound, but we are very excited about her defensive skill and how that will boost us on that end of the floor.”
Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, McPhee, like Johnson, is a two-time state Gatorade Player of the Year, nabbing Washington’s top honor in 2012 and 2013. McPhee averaged 27.0 points per game last year, helping lead Mount Rainier to its second straight state 4A semifinal appearance.
The six-foot wing also scored in bunches as a sophomore, averaging 22.7 points and 11.0 rebounds as the Rams reached the semifinals of the state 4A tournament.
“Brittany is a scoring machine, and we look forward to having her here at Stanford,” VanDerveer said about McPhee. “She’s hard-nosed, runs the floor well and we’re really excited about the way she plays.”
“The long story [of why I chose Stanford] would be that I saw them when I was in 5th of 6th grade, and that’s when I knew where I wanted to go,” McPhee said Wednesday. “What also drew me to Stanford were the great academics and athletics together, as well as the great atmosphere of excellence. Everyone there is striving to do better.”
Rooks comes to The Farm with a Gatorade Player of the Year award under her belt, having captured New Jersey’s honor following last season. A six-foot wing/off-guard along with McPhee, Rooks averaged 27.4 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.2 steals a game as Gill St. Bernard’s School finished 23-5 and claimed the Somerset County title. Her performance during the season also earned her player of the year honors from the Newark Star-Ledger.
“Taylor is a versatile, strong body that can play the two or the three positions,” noted VanDerveer. “She can rebound and score at a fast pace, and she also brings a solid defensive game into our fold.”
“I feel that Stanford offers me the best of both worlds,” Rooks told “[At Stanford] I’ll be able to compete for a national championship with a program where those achievements are expected, and academically I’m going to one of the best schools not just in the country, but in the world. I knew that Stanford would give me an opportunity to excel as both a student and an athlete.”