Top junior college guard Orekhova signs with USF
Big news for USF women's basketball and coach Jose Fernandez, as the Bulls have won a major recruiting battle, with junior college guard Inga Orekhova choosing USF over offers from national powers Oklahoma and Louisville. Her coach at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, Jim Rowland, said that Orekhova signed with USF on Monday afternoon.
"I picked South Florida because I want to be a big impact player -- I liked the school and the coaches a lot," said Orekhova, 21, who also considered Baylor before choosing the Bulls.
It's the second year in a row that USF has landed a top junior college player -- guard Andrea Smith was the team's leading scorer last year, and the Bulls could get an even bigger impact out of Orekhova, a 6-foot-2 guard who will have three years of eligibility at USF. She averaged a team-high 19.2 points for NEO while also leading the team in assists and steals and hitting 111 3-pointers.
Orekhova, who said her strengths are her "3-pointers and passing," made an official visit to USF's campus and was won over by the Bulls' staff and players. Her path to Tampa is a long one -- born in the Ukraine and raised in Austria from age 2, she finished high school in California and was once headed to Northwestern and Southern California before landing at NEO this past season. She was rated as the No. 40 overall recruit in the nation by ESPN.com in 2009. She'll finish summer classes at her junior college in time to enroll at USF for the fall semester.
Orekhova's signing completes a four-player recruiting class for Fernandez, who signed 6-foot-4 Australian center Caitlin Rowe and guards Tamara Taylor and Shalethia Stringfield in the fall signing period. With Smith recovering from ACL surgery and only two seniors lost from the 2010-11 team, the Bulls will be in strong position to improve on a disappointing 12-19 record this season.