USF women battling for top junior college guard
It looks like Stan Heath will wrap up his 2011-12 recruiting today with the expected signings of guards Blake Nash and Anthony Collins, but USF women's basketball coach Jose Fernandez is still in position to add another impact player for next season.
The Bulls are in strong contention for Inga Orekhova, a 6-foot-2 guard from the Ukraine who played this season at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. The 21-year-old, who will have three years of eligibility at her next school, made an official visit to USF and is also considering Oklahoma, with Louisville and Baylor also pursuing her.
"South Florida is definitely part of it ... she definitely liked her visit, was really intrigued by what they do," said Jim Rowland, her coach at NEO.
USF associate head coach Jeff Osterman has been recruiting Orekhova and has kept the Bulls in competition with bigger programs. Orekhova averaged 19.2 points per game at NEO, along with team highs in assists (72) and steals (80). The 111 3-pointers she hit this season was the most among Division I junior college's top scorers.
"She's an all-around basketball player -- knows the game well," Rowland said. "She's very fundamentally sound. She can shoot it, put it on the floor, and if you look away for a second, she can hit you in the face with a no-look pass. She's so heady, and she moves so well without the basketball."
Despite her size, Orekhova is likely to play shooting guard or small forward, using her size and range to create mismatches on the perimeter. Born in the Ukraine and raised in Austria, she originally signed with Northwestern two years ago but never attended, and was linked to Southern Cal a year ago before enrolling at NEO. ESPN.com rated her as the No. 40 overall recruit nationally in the Class of 2009. The spring signing period opened Wednesday, but Orekhova has no timetable for making her decision.
USF returns most of its 2010-11 team that went 12-19, with Leondra Doomes-Stephens and Porche Grant as the team's only seniors. The Bulls have already signed guards Tamara Taylor (St. Petersburg) and Shalethia Stringfield (Jacksonville), as well as 6-foot-4 junior college center Caitlin Rowe of Australia.