Nov. 15, 2012
STANFORD, Calif. -
Stanford's Setsuko Ishiyama Director of Women's Basketball Tara VanDerveer announced Wednesday the signing of four student-athletes to National Letters of Intent. Enrolling at Stanford and joining the Cardinal in 2013-14 will be forwards Kailee Johnson (Portland, Ore./Central Catholic HS) and Erica McCall (Bakersfield, Calif./Ridgeview HS), wing Karlie Samuelson (Huntington Beach, Calif./Mater Dei HS) and point guard Khaliyah "Lili" Thompson (Mansfield, Texas/Timberview HS).
"Some words that I think really describe this class are versatile, athletic, and competitive," VanDerveer said. "Our players are coming out of high school very skilled, and we will continue to have good team speed. All four are a great fit for Stanford academically, will be a great fit for our team. These are players who have played not only for USA Basketball, but for elite summer basketball programs and great coaches, so the experienced competition they have excelled against will help them acclimate quickly to the college game."
The quartet will join a Cardinal program that has reached five straight Final Fours from 2008-12, and is currently 2-0 to start the 2012-13 campaign. Stanford is currently in Honolulu, where it will open up play at the Jack in the Box Rainbow Wahine Classic Friday against No. 1/1 Baylor at 4:30 p.m. PT. The Cardinal rounds out the draw against host Hawai'i Saturday at 9 p.m. PT and Tennessee-Martin Sunday at 7 p.m. PT.
Johnson and McCall will add additional depth to the Cardinal frontcourt upon arrival during the summer of 2013. Johnson, a 6-3 forward, brings a wide-ranging skill set to The Farm. The Portland, Ore. native utilizes her length and size to make herself a formidable defender and rebounder, and can transition that ability into quickly leading the break into the offensive attack. On the scoring end, Johnson has drawn praise for her ability to effectively work both ends of the post, moving well to score inside or showing the ability to step out and consistently hit her midrange jumper and even from 3-point range.
With Central Catholic High School, Johnson averaged 13.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while making 2.7 steals per game on the defensive end.
"I was so excited when I found out that I had been accepted into Stanford, it was just such a relief that all of my hard work, both in the classroom and on the court, had paid off. This program and team is so great I cannot wait until I get to be a part of it," Johnson said. "Aside from the obvious excellent program and academic opportunities, I really enjoyed the girls on the team and the three other girls that I came on my visit with. I just got along well with my future teammates and that was a big deal to me."
"We're very excited about Kailee coming to Stanford and her great versatility," VanDerveer said. "She can score on the block as well as face-up, and I feel she can also be a great defender for our team."
McCall, also 6-3, has already burnished her credentials against international competition as a two-time gold medalist with the USA Basketball U16 and U17 National Teams. In 2011, McCall was part of the U16 squad that captured gold at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship, qualifying the Americans for the U17 World Championship. The Bakersfield native would earn her spot on the U17 National Team in 2012 for the FIBA U17 World Championship, where she would again help lead the U.S. team to gold.
As a prep, McCall, an excellent athlete and dominant rebounder, is already Ridgeview High's career leader in points (1,876), rebounds (1,391) and blocks (672) entering her senior season in 2012-13. At Ridgeview McCall has thrice been named the Bakersfield Californian All-Area MVP (2010-12) and in 2012 was named to the All-CIF Southern Section Division III First Team and the Cal-Hi Sports All-State Fourth Team after averaging 25.8 points, 16.7 rebounds and 7.1 blocks per game.
McCall's sister, DeWanna Bonner, currently plays in the WNBA for the Phoenix Mercury and enjoyed a standout collegiate career at Auburn.
"Getting in to Stanford was an exciting feeling, especially since there is a small percentage who get in from those that apply. Also with joining the basketball program I felt a sense of pride knowing that I would a part of such great history," McCall noted.
"The key reasons that helped me choose Stanford were the fact that I could get the best of both worlds, great academics and a top basketball program coached by Tara VanDerveer, and it was also close to home. What is a better accomplishment that includes a NCAA championship and a Stanford degree?" she added.
"We like Erica's physical play, she's a rebounder and a very aggressive competitor," noted VanDerveer. "She scores, has 3-point range, and she is extremely competitive and versatile."
Another Southern California product joining the Cardinal brings a familiar name and pedigree to The Farm. Karlie Samuelson joins older sister Bonnie on the squad next season, adding her own deadly long-range accuracy to the Cardinal fold. Samuelson, at 5-11, has gained experience running an offense from the point as well as playing at the shooting guard position, utilizing her shooting capabilities. These skills and abilities helped earned her an invite to the USA Basketball U17 National Team Trials ahead of the FIBA U17 World Championship in 2012.
On the prep level, Samuelson averaged 18 points per game for Edison High School in 2011-12 and was named to the Cal-Hi Sports All-Junior Fifth Team despite missing part of the regular season due to an ankle injury and the entire postseason due to illness. The season prior (2010-11), she helped lead Edison to the CIF Southern Section Division I title, earning league co-MVP honors in the process.
Samuelson transferred to Mater Dei High School early this past summer, where she will play her senior season.
"I am very excited to join the team and I think it will be a lot of fun," Samuelson said. "I am looking forward to being part of the Stanford family and I am happy that my hard work in the classroom has paid off. I chose Stanford because of the high standards for both basketball and academics and also the location of the university."
"I miss playing with my sister Bonnie, and it will be great getting to play with her on the court again," Samuelson added.
"Karlie's strength is her 3-point shooting but she can also play both guard positions and can be another versatile player for us," VanDerveer added.
Thompson, a 5-7 point guard from Mansfield, Texas, bolsters not only the Cardinal backcourt but also its sizable contingent from the Lone Star State. She will join fellow Texans Chiney Ogwumike (Cypress), Alex Green (Dallas), Kiran Lakhian (Plano) and Amber Orrange (Houston) on the roster. Much like her fellow Texans, Thompson, who goes by "Lili" brings plenty of speed, athleticism and moves to the party.
She also brings an ability to beat defenders off the dribble and penetrate the lane, opening up opportunities for teammates on the offensive end. Also highly regarded for her jumping ability and penchant for rebounding against taller competition, Thompson has led Timberview High to the Texas state playoffs in each of the past two seasons after transferring from Punahou High School in Hawaii.
One of the top point guards in Texas, Thompson was named a Sporting News All-America honorable mention after leading the Lady Wolves in scoring, assists and steals. She was also voted unanimously to the Texas Girls' Coaches Association All-State Team as well as to the local all-region and all-district first teams.
"I feel honored to have been accepted into such a prestigious and respected university, and I'm excited to help continue the legacy of great women's basketball at Stanford," Thompson said. "I'm excited about this next phase of my life and I plan to work as hard as possible and enjoy it every step of the way.
"With my passion for education and basketball, I believe Stanford is a great fit for me," she continued. "I chose Stanford because I enjoy being challenged and being part of a successful team. After visiting campus and meeting the coaching staff and my future teammates, I was confident that at Stanford I would be able to grow, both as a person and an athlete, and accomplish many goals."
"We are big fans of Lili's point-guard skills," said VanDerveer. "She is a vocal, heady point guard. She can put the ball on the floor, is a strong player and has an excellent pull-up jump shot."