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USF women's basketball goes international

USF's men's basketball team goes to Brazil in August and has signed a player named (Jawanza) Poland, but women's coach Jose Fernandez has taken in the lead in having the most international basketball squad on campus.

The Bulls have signed two talented forwards from Europe, with 6-foot Josette Campbell -- born in London -- and 6-foot-2 Salla Ekstrom of Finland joining the team this fall. Campbell has been in the United States for the past four years, including the last two at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville.

"I really enjoyed my visit -- the players I met were really nice, and the coaches seemed down to earth. I've always wanted to play in the Big East," said Campbell, who chose the Bulls over Clemson and San Diego State and was also recruited by Auburn, Cincinnati, Rutgers and Arizona.

Campbell, 21, averaged 12.3 points and 5.9 rebounds per game last season, and Dan Olson of Girlsbasketballreport.com has her rated as the No. 7 junior college prospect in this year's class. (Another USF signee, guard Andrea Smith, is No. 1 on his list, and her twin sister Andrell, also USF-bound, is No. 11.) Olson rates USF's class as a whole as the No. 19 class in the country.

"Josette is a very versatile player who can play multiple positions," said Bart Walker, who coached her the last two years at Northwest Florida State. "She has a very strong basketball IQ and is a very mature young lady."

Walker said he sees Campbell as a small forward at USF -- she hit 36 percent of her 3-pointers last season -- though she could line up as a power forward and hold her own on both ends.

Campbell had a connection with USF in former Bulls assistant Mike Teasley, who coached her at Notre Dame Academy in Virginia and spent a year on Fernandez's staff before returning to school to finish his degree.

It's harder to find rankings and evaluations on Ekstrom, but she has extensive international experience, having played for Finland's entry in the Under-18 European Championships, coached by her father Lars. Looks like word of her committing to USF has been old news in Finland -- as this story explains,

Ekströmin tuleva opinahjo South Florida pelaa kovatasoisessa Big East -konferenssissa.

Her height is listed as 187-sentinnen, which translates to centimeters, which translates to 6-foot-2, though it's hard to tell what USF will list her at.

So Fernandez has five newcomers -- the Smith twins, Campbell and Ekstrom, and Georgia's Akila McDonald, plus he has a pair of transfers who could wind up starting in Alabama's Daleisha Carn and Indiana's Sasha Bernard (eligible in December). Add in senior Porche Grant, who is expected to return after taking a redshirt last season, and the six returning players, and Fernandez should have ample talent to improve on this season's 15-16 record.

[Last modified: Friday, July 16, 2010 11:24am]

    

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