Nov. 12, 2008
BERKELEY - Seven highly-ranked student-athletes, all of whom are ranked in the top 50 by at least one scouting service, have signed National Letters of Intent to play basketball at California beginning with the 2009-10 season, Golden Bear head coach Joanne Boyle announced Wednesday.
The combination of the seven incoming players has given Cal the No. 1 ranked recruiting class in the nation, according to Blue Star Basketball Report. Cal's recruiting class is ranked No. 2 by All-Star Girls Report and the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report, with ESPN HoopGurlz ranking the class at No. 3.
Included in the Bears freshman class of 2009-10 are two Bay Area standouts, Sacred Heart Cathedral High's Tierra Rogers and Pinole Valley High's DeNesha Stallworth, who will be joining four Southern California prep stars, Talia Caldwell of Marlborough High in Los Angeles, Layshia Clarendon of Cajon High in San Bernadino, Eliza Pierre of John Muir High in Pasadena, and Gennifer Brandon of Chatsworth High in Sylmar, and one Oregon product, Brenna Heater of Ashland High in Ashland. Of the seven Bear recruits, five are rated in the top ten at their position (as ranked by ESPN HoopGurlz) and all are in the top 15.
"We are extremely excited about this class," said Boyle. "They bring a ton of individual talent and athleticism as well as a great basketball IQ. There is a good balance between posts and guards, but most importantly, I think this group of athletes is a fantastic fit with the chemistry we already have on the team. Their personalities and styles of play are going to mesh really well with what we already have in place."
DeNesha Stallworth a 6-1 forward, has the highest ranking of any of the Cal recruits, rated as the No. 12 prospect in the nation by Blue Star, No. 15 by Collegiate Girls Basketball report, No. 24 by ESPN HoopGurlz and No. 32 by the All-Star Girls Report. Stallworth is ranked as the No. 4 forward prospect by ESPN HoopGurlz. NorCal Prep ranks her as the No. 1 prospect in the class of 2009 and she was a Street & Smith All-American honorable mention. Stallworth averaged 22.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game last season at Pinole Valley High. She also played at the USA Youth Development Festival in Colorado Springs and the Nike Regional Skills Academy.
Coach Boyle on DeNesha Stallworth: "DeNesha is an unbelievably skilled post for her age. She has amazingly skilled footwork and great hands. She has a solid repertoire of post moves, skilled going right or left, and can play facing or with her back to the basket. The best thing about DeNesha is the maturity of her game. She has already shown that she can play at the highest level. She is a great passing post player with an uncanny ability to see things develop on the floor."
Gennifer Brandon a 6-3 forward, is the No. 6 rated forward by ESPN HoopGurlz. Overall, she is ranked as the No. 14 prospect by Blue Star, No. 17 by All-Star Girls Report and No. 30 by ESPN HoopGurlz and is ranked No. 6 by ESPN HoopGurlz at her position. An impressive shot blocker, she had 62 blocks last season for Chatsworth High, including getting seven blocks in a game against Chino Hills.
Coach Boyle on Gennifer Brandon: "Gennifer is an athletic post with tons of potential. She is a great shot blocker who is just really learning the game. She is great in transition, loves the running game and can play outside or inside. I think her size, her length, and her athleticism are really going to bring a lot to our team, as well as her quickness. She will be working with Assistant Coach Jennifer Hoover on learning the basic footwork that is really going to take her game to another level."
Tierra Rogers a 5-11 guard, is a member of San Francisco's Sacred Heart Cathedral High School team that has won back-to-back state championships and whose 33-0 record in 2007-08 has them ranked as the preseason No. 5 team in the nation in the ESPN RISE Fab 50 rankings after finishing last season as the No. 1 high school team in the country. Rogers is ranked No. 20 by ESPN HoopGurlz, No. 28 by Collegiate Girls Basketball Report and No. 35 by All-Star Girls Report, and No. 5 at the wing by ESPN HoopGurlz. Rogers can play both the shooting guard and wing positions. She was named first-team All-City by the San Francisco Examiner last season. She was first-team All-West Catholic Athletic League, as well as being named the MVP of the Nike Northwest Invitational and an All-Star at the GRS Fall Showcase.
Coach Boyle on Tierra Rogers: "Tierra is extremely athletic, very long body. She can defend the one, two, or the three positions. She, along with Layshia and Eliza, will set the defensive tone for our team in this class. Their abilities are going to allow more pressing and running. She is also a great rebounding guard. Offensively Tierra is a slasher and a post-up guard who is going to continue to work on her outside shooting. She wants to become even more of a threat from the outside. She loves big games and thrives in those situations."
Eliza Pierre a 5-7 quick, athletic point guard, is one of the most dominant defensive guards in the country. She averaged 9.2 rebounds, 4.7 steals, 5.5 assists per game, to go with 10.8 points each contest for John Muir High. She also had 58 blocked shots last season, helping to secure her invitation to attend the 2008 Nike Regional Skills Academy. She is ranked No. 22 by ESPN HoopGurlz and No. 61 by Collegiate Girls Basketball Report and is the No. 3 rated point guard by ESPN HoopGurlz.
Coach Boyle on Eliza Pierre: "Eliza is one of the best defensive guards in the country. She has incredible speed and will set the defensive tone for our team. She has an energy and spirit that are so contagious. I truly believe she will be a great leader for our team. She also has a great basketball IQ. She is an incredible open court player and can get to the basket at will. For her size, she is an incredible rebounder. She is working on her shot to be a bigger threat from outside as well. She is truly going to set the tone for us."
Layshia Clarendon, a 5-9 combo guard who plays both the shooting guard and wing-forward positions, has scored 2,160 points in her career at Cajon High. She averaged 23.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 7.4 assists, and 4.6 steals per game in her three seasons. She helped lead her team to their first ever CIF Championship, amassing a 30-4 record. She was the Division 2A co-player of the year, CIF-state junior player of the year and the HS GameTime girls athlete of the year. She is ranked No. 25 by Blue Star, No. 65 by All-Star Girls Report, and No. 67 by ESPN HoopGurlz, and is ranked the No. 15 guard by ESPN HoopGurlz.
Coach Boyle on Layshia Clarnedon: "Layshia is a very athletic guard who wants to play uptempo on both ends of the floor. She loves to run in transition and is a proven scorer. She loves to score in the open court, but is also a great player in a half-court system. A fierce competitor with a great knowledge of the game, she has proven she can play, and especially score, at the highest level. I was also impressed with the amount of work she did on her defense this summer to add depth to her game."
Talia Caldwell a 6-3 forward, is a young low block player with good hands and a lot of potential who averaged 15.0 points per game last season at Marlborough High. She is ranked No. 42 by Blue Star, No. 43 by ESPN HoopGurlz and No. 54 by All-Star Girls Report and the No. 12 rated post by ESPN HoopGurlz. She played on the FBC summer team alongside DeNesha Stallworth. She also received an invitation to attend the Nike Regional Skills Academy in Orange County this summer.
Coach Boyle on Talia Caldwell: "Talia is a very physical player who likes to get up and down as a post. She played this summer with DeNesha [Stallworth], and the two of them built a very effective high-low game together. She likes and really wants to play physical. She is one of the smartest players at her position and uses her knowledge of the game to help everyone on the court. You can see a true joy in her when you watch her play."
Brenna Heater, a 6-3 forward, is the lone player from outside the state of California, hailing from Ashland High in southern Oregon. She averaged 16 points and 9.7 rebounds per game in 2007-08. She excelled in the state tournament, averaging 24.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 4.3 blocks in three games, helping Ashland to a sixth-place finish. She is ranked No. 49 by ESPN HoopGurlz, No. 49 by Collegiate Girls Basketball Report, and No. 59 by All-Star Girls Report.
Coach Boyle on Brenna Heater: "Brenna is the tallest post we have coming in and will give us the best presence in the paint. She is a true low block player, but is very mobile for her size and has proven she can play away from the basket. She is a threat on the block, but also has a nice touch from the outside. She has the desire to play physical and has the desire to be a dominant post in college. Working with Jennifer Hoover will have an immediate impact on her game."
Cal will be losing three players to graduation at the end of the 2008-09 season, forward Shantrell Sneed and All-Americans Devanei Hampton and Ashley Walker. The No. 9 Bears open their season this Friday, Nov. 14 at 1 p.m. when they host Albany at Haas Pavilion.