Recruiting on the Division I level never really stops as coaches try to stock their sidelines with the talent to improve or to have players ready to take over for stars who are getting ready to graduate.
Gonzaga women’s basketball coach Kelly Graves said he’s amazed at the talent that comes from the Spokane area and North Idaho.
“Look at all the local players we’ve had: Heather Bowman and Katelan Redmon,” Graves said. “Spokane is a hotbed for recruiting and always has been.”
But in the weird world of recruiting, coaches never really know if the player they sign will develop into another Bowman, or leave town within 24 hours, as Bayli McClard did this fall after signing to play with the Zags out of Hanford, Calif.
“I’ve never talked to her since. I never got to the bottom of why that happened,” Graves said of McClard.
After switching a commitment from Fresno State to Gonzaga, McClard showed up on campus but left immediately and later gave a non-binding oral commitment to play for Fresno State.
She will not be eligible to play until next season.
Graves recruited the 6-foot-1 McClard, who initially committed to play for Fresno State. She then de-committed and asked if Graves still had a scholarship open. He did.
“We flew her up the next week. We spent 48 hours with her trying to get to know her and she signed the next week,” he said.
“Her talent trumped everything. There were some red flags, but we never got to know her that well. Obviously, we or she made a mistake.”
Zag recruits: Here’s the list of players signed to play next year for Gonzaga.
Lexi Bando, a 5-9 guard from Willamette High School in Eugene, Ore.
“We love her,” Graves said. “She’s another Keani (Albanez) but a better handler and a better shooter.”
Jill Barta, a 6-3 forward from Fairfield (Mont.) High School.
“We’re hoping she’s another Kayla Standish. (Barta) has never lost a high school game coming into this year.”
Georgia Stirton, a 5-8 point guard originally from Melbourne, Australia, will play next year for Gonzaga after starring for North Idaho College.
“We will sign a junior college recruit for need only,” Graves said. “We figured we’d need a new point guard next year.”
Area stars revisited
The All-GSL first team, for the winter of 2011-2012, took its talents to the next level. Here are their current teams and statistics.
Kayleigh Valley, a 5-11 freshman forward from Spokane Valley, has played in all nine games for 6-3 Montana. Valley, who was voted the 2013 3A Player of the Year by the Washington State Girls Basketball Coaches Association, is averaging 3.1 points and 2.2 rebounds in only 11.7 minutes a game. Montana plays Eastern Washington Jan. 9 in Missoula and Feb. 8 in Cheney.
Hallie Gennett, a 5-11 freshman forward from Post Falls, has started four of eight games for 7-1 Sacramento State. Gennett, who played at University High before transferring to Post Falls, is averaging 13 points and 2.5 rebounds for the Hornets, who have wins over Saint Mary’s and Oregon. Sacramento State travels to play Eastern Washington at Cheney on Jan. 18.
Aleisha Hathaway, a 5-9 sophomore guard from Spokane, has played in four of nine games for 4-5 Western Washington. Hathaway, who played for Shadle Park, is averaging 1.5 points and 1.0 rebound a game.
Brooke Gallaway, a 5-11 guard from Greenacres, has played in all 11 games, starting one, for the 4-7 Santa Clara Broncos. Gallaway, who played for Central Valley, is averaging 2.4 points and 0.9 rebounds this year for the Broncos, which play Gonzaga at home on Jan. 19. The Broncos then travel to play in Spokane on Jan. 30.
Nakia Arquette, a 6-1 forward from Spokane, is a redshirt freshman who has played in all 10 games, starting one, for the 6-4 Utah Utes. Utah’s record includes an 82-74 double-overtime win Dec. 14 at BYU. In that game, Arquette – who starred at Lewis and Clark – scored four points and grabbed five rebounds. For the season, Arquette is averaging 4.2 points and 2.9 rebounds a game.