Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) girls basketball program turns heads with six signing national letters of intent on Wednesday, which could be a record in California for one class, one day and one team in that sport. The JSerra (San Juan Capistrano) baseball program also was amazing with eight D1 signees (plus another going to Yale), including four with UCLA. Go inside for more recruiting/signing updates from the five primary sports we cover on this site.
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Longtime state girls basketball analyst Harold Abend couldn’t think of one and neither could we.
The question was: Has there ever been a girls hoops team in the state that had six D1 college signers at the same time?
“That’s the most I can remember, whether that’s from the north or the south,” Abend said. “Those great Narbonne (Harbor City) teams (in the early 2000s) had all those great players, but they were in different classes.”
The team that celebrated its six signers on Wednesday of this week, which was the first national letter of intent signing day during a 2020-21 school year dominated by the Coronavirus pandemic, was at Archbishop Mitty of San Jose.
The Monarchs, who won the CIF NorCal Open Division title last spring only to have their scheduled state final vs. La Jolla Country Day cancelled a few days later when the pandemic began to take root, only had one senior on that squad. And among those coming back for one more season are the six who put ink to paper this week.
Three of the Mitty girls will all be going to UC Irvine — 6-foot-1 guard Olivia Williams, 6-foot guard Amelia Scharpf and 5-foot-10 guard Hunter Hernandez. The other three are 6-foot forward Katie Springs (UC San Diego), 6-foot guard Marley Langi and 5-foot-10 forward Sydney Bourland.
“They are all very versatile players, which is why they were all recruited,” Abend said. “Sydney Bourland is the one who might have been a surprise to some that she signed, but since her freshman season she’s been working hard and getting better.”
Hernandez was one of the team’s best players as a sophomore when Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year Haley Jones was a senior, but missed almost all of last season coming off of knee surgery. Langi also went down with an injury at the Arizona Tournament of Champions, didn’t play at the West Coast Jamboree and was limited for much of the rest of the season.
We just hope we get to see this group on the court playing for longtime head coach Sue Phillips at Mitty sometime this spring, when the CIF calendar for girls basketball is supposed to get going.
JSERRA BASEBALL’S LATEST POINT OF PRIDE
Coming from a school that began not even 20 years ago, the baseball program at JSerra Catholic of San Juan Capistrano already has much to be thankful for.
There’s the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft in which the Lions had No. 1 overall pick Royce Lewis by the Minnesota Twins. There’s also been Trinity League titles in 2009, 2015, 2016 and 2017, numerous high national and state rankings and a 2019 Boras Classic state crown.
That brings us to this year’s November signing day. Unlike the Mitty girls in hoops, we don’t know about any kind of state standard, but JSerra baseball celebrating eight D1 signers is a remarkably high total.
Head coach Brett Kay and staff have had players sign with UCLA in recent years, but four in one class on one day (which is what just happened) is something else. The four inking with the Bruins were pitcher Luke Jewett, pitcher Gage Jump, pitcher Eric Silva and shortstop Cody Schrier. Silva played last spring before the season was cancelled at Laguna Beach and joined an already loaded pitching group.
The other four Lions who signed on Wednesday were catcher Colin Blanchard (Washington), outfielder Gabe D’Arcy (Arkansas), pitcher Wilson Cunningham (Univ. of Chicago) and multi-purpose Tommy Gulbranson (St. Thomas University).
Also celebrating at JSerra on Wednesday was catcher/second baseman Max Imhoff, who will be headed to Yale. The Ivy League typically doesn’t do letters of intent like the others.
We’re still months away from a possible spring season in 2021 that will end with the first-ever CIF regional championships (NorCal & SoCal), but with that kind of group it won’t be a surprise to see JSerra starting on top of the state and national rankings.
MORE SIGNING DAY SUPERLATIVES
*That pipeline from California high schools to the University of Oklahoma in softball that helped the Sooners win NCAA titles in 2013, 2016 and 2017 is continuing to pump fast and furiously. On Wednesday, the Sooners added catcher/third baseman Sophia Nugent of Los Alamitos (ranked No. 1 last summer in our first-ever Class of 2021 Hot 100 player rankings). They also signed outfielder Hannah Coor from Esperanza of Anaheim. Landing Nugent marks the third straight year that either the top ranked recruit from California or the Ms. Softball Player of the Year has gone with head coach Patty Grasso’s program. Last year, it was top Class of 2020 recruit Tiare Jennings from St. Anthony of Long Beach. The year before it was Ms. Softball honoree Kinzie Hansen of Norco.
*Of course, defending NCAA champion UCLA hasn’t exactly not fared well in recruiting top California softball players, either. On Wednesday, the Bruins’ top recruit was 2019 State Sophomore of the Year Savannah Pola from Godinez of Santa Ana. Savannah led the Grizzlies to a 26-4 record in 2019 and had one of the highest single season hits totals (64) in state history. We didn’t have postseason honors after 2020 since so few games were played. Her older sister, Keana, is playing softball at the University of Nebraska.
*The player who was No. 1 in the most recent boys basketball Class of 21 player rankings as compiled by managing editor Ronnie Flores was Peyton Watson of Long Beach Poly. The extremely athletic wing who seems to get bigger and better every time we see him working out committed to UCLA several months ago and on Wednesday signed with UCLA. Watson is up to 6-foot-9 and was recruited by many other major college powerhouses. The 2018 State Freshman of the Year and the 2020 State Junior of the Year, Malik Thomas from Damien of La Verne (who had a better high school season in 2019-20 than Watson), has long been committed to USC and on Wednesday he signed with the Trojans.
*Football’s initial signing date for the Class of 2021 is not until next month (Dec. 16). The state and nation’s No. 1 ranked recruit, Corona Centennial defensive end Korey Foreman, is still uncommitted. His final seven schools are Clemson, Alabama, USC, Oregon, LSU, Georgia and Howard. Including one of the HBCUs like Howard created quite a bit of excitement when it happened. At one point, Foreman was a Clemson commit, but later de-committed.
*It was a strong day for Stanford’s women’s basketball program as the Cardinal landed perhaps the top three projected senior players in the state. Two of those three, forwards Kiki Iriafen from Harvard-Westlake of Studio City and Brooke Demetre from Mater Dei of Santa Ana, have been Stanford commits for awhile. They also have traded being State Players of the Year as freshmen (Iriafen), sophomores (Demetre) and juniors (Iriafen). Last May, they were joined by the No. 1 ranked junior in Northern California, high-scoring and super-athletic two-time Sacramento Bee Player of the Year Jzaniya Harriel of Antelope. Stanford in women’s hoops can obviously recruit all over the country, so its goal to get these three shows how highly the coaches there think of them.