San Jose, Calif. - One of the unique aspects of college basketball is that as the season is just getting under way and fans are getting their first look at their favorite team’s roster, teams announce the next crop of players which will propel the program into the future.
On Wednesday, San José State women’s basketball head coach Jamie Craighead announced the signing of five players to National Letters of Intent. The groups, consisting of five high school seniors including one international player will begin competing for the Spartans in the 2016-17 school year.
“After this year and next year we lose just about everyone on the roster, with the exception of (sophomore) MyMy Ladd, (freshman) Andrea Kohlhaas and (junior transfer) Hallie Gennett,” said Craighead. “So, this class and the next one are really important for us.
“We feel really good about the players we have signed this year. We’ve had some of these commitments for a while and are excited to finally get to talk about them. I’m really happy with the way this class came together.
“Give credit to assistant coach Jourdan Willard. We wanted to sign a player in every position and really make this class the one we will build around. She has done a tremendous job as our recruiting coordinator. We are really excited about this group and we are already working hard on next year’s class.”
The five players are Alex Harris (Palo Alto (Calif.) High School), Analyss Benally (Wichita-Heights High School in Park City, Kan.), Anna Thomasdotter (IK EOS club team in Lund, Sweden), Fa-Ko-Fieme’a Hafoka (Lahainaluna High School in Lahaina, Hawai’i), and Taylor Turney (Foothill High School in Henderson, Nev.).
Palo Alto (Calif.) High School (coach Scott Peters)
Santa Clara Valley Athletic League (SCVAL) De Anza Division
2014-15 SCVAL Junior of the Year
2014-15 All-Mercury News & All-Daily News Honorable Mention
2013-14 All-Daily News Honorable Mention
22-5, 12-0 (SCVAL De Anza Division) Regular Season Champions
7.6 rebounds led her team and #2 in the league
8.1 points led her team and #4 in the league
2.3 blocks led her team and the league
1.4 steals second on her team and #5 in the league
5.2 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.1 blocks, 1.4 steals
“Alexis is a local player. As we continue to build our program we want to get more local and northern California players. She is a 6-2 power forward who can defend and block shots. We see her as a replacement for Riana Byrd. What she brings on the defensive end will earn her playing time right away. She has a really long wingspan, is energetic, athletic and mobile. She will go get a lot of rebounds and block a lot of shots. As she matures her offensive game will catch up to what she already has on the other end. We are really excited about her.
(5-9, shooting guard/point guard)
Wichita-Heights High School Falcons (coach Kip Pulliam) in Park City, Kansas
Greater Wichita Athletic League (5A)
2014-15 Wichita Eagle All-City League 2nd team
2014-15 Wichita Eagle All-Class 5A Honorable Mention
2013-14 Wichita Eagle All-City League 2nd Team
2013-14 Wichita Eagle All-Class 5A Honorable Mention
51-for-121 (.420) three-point shooting,
New Mexico, New Mexico State, Wichita State, UMKC, Air Force, Florida A&M.
“Analyss has NBA three-point range. When we saw film of her and then saw her live, it was like watching Steph Curry. She can come off screens and shoot it, pull up in transition and get to the rim. She scores many different ways. Some people can just shoot the ball and she is one of them.
“She, like all freshman shooters, has to adjust to the speed of the game at this level. They have to learn to play faster. Defense is much better at this level, but the fact that we can run her off a stagger screen and she can shoot in transition, which are the toughest things to adjust to at this level, I think her learning curve will be slightly easier than it is for some
“We are really excited about Analyss. She comes from a program that has won a lot of state championship. She is a winner and has great character. “
Plays for club team IK EOS
Played in the Swedish National Championship Game with her U-16 team 2012-13
Played in the Scandinavian Championship Game with her U16 team 2012-13
Captain of her U16 team 2012-13
Represented Sweden in the FIBA U-16 European Championships in 2013
Starter for Sweden’s U17 national team in 2014
Appeared in 4 games for IK EOS in the Swedish Women's League 2013-14
Starter for IK EOS in the Swedish Women's League 2014-15
Competed with the Swedish National U18 Team
“Anna will play in the trail post for us and on the wing. She is long, athletic and flys around. She is everything we want in terms of how she plays, her energy and work ethic. She gets after it. She can score and defend. Obviously playing at that high a level, you learn the game and understand how to play. She is an intelligent player who will fit in right away.
“We play a lot of four around one, so we feel she can play the trail post for us on offense. Her height will allow her to guard a post player on the defensive end. She is fiery and won’t hesitate to get on the ground going after loose balls. We are really excited. She will be able to step in and help us right away.”
(5-9, point guard)
Lahainaluna High School (coach Todd Rickard) in Lahaina, Hawai’I (Maui)
Maui I League (MIL)
2014-15 Honolulu Star-Advertiser All-State
2014-15 Honolulu Star-Advertiser First-Team All-Defense
2014-15 MIL Player of the Year
Team has won 110 straight league games and reached the state championship game in 2014-15.
Hawai’i, Utah Valley, Montana State and Portland
“Fieme’a played point guard in high school, but she won’t be a point for us. She is bigger and a tremendous defender. She is really athletic and bouncy. We see her playing a wing in our offense, the three spot. We are very happy that she has played the point, because those players are heady, but for us we see her playing on the left-side wing where Nyre Harris, who is graduating, plays right now.
“She comes from an outstanding high school program and she is a critical part of their success. One of her teammates is going to Washington State. Although the state of Hawai’i may not be known for producing a large number of top players, the top programs do. She is one of those kids and her high school is one of those programs.”
(5-8, point guard)
Foothill High School (coach Eric Kruger) Henderson, Nev.
I Sunrise-Southeast League
Two-time Las Vegas Sun Preseason Super Seven
2014-15 Las Vegas Review Journal First-Team All-State
2014-15 Co-All-Southeast League MVP
2013-14 Las Vegas Sun Preseason Super Seven
Two-time Team MVP
21-9, 10-0 Southeast League Champions
Led league in assists, third in scoring, seventh in rebounds
Cal State Bakersfield, Portland, Southern Utah and UNLV
“She reminds me a lot of Dezz Ramos, a player that our fans will get to know this year. She is very shifty, a term, we like to use. She can change pace, change direction, has eyes in the back of her head and can definitely score. She thrives in transition and it won’t be hard to get her to go fast, off an opponent’s make or miss. I’m really excited about Taylor’s future in our program. She is a quality kid.
“I feel strongly about all the players we are bringing into our program. They have high character, are team oriented and are all excited about what we are building here at San José State.
This year’s Spartans women’s basketball team opens play on Friday, November 13 hosting the Southern Oregon Raiders. Tip off on Walt McPherson Court is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.