TUCSON, Ariz. (Nov. 8) -- The University of Arizona womens basketball program has inked four players on the first day of the early signing period, announced head coach Joan Bonvicini on Wednesday. Posts Danielle Adefeso and Shawntinice Polk and guards Robin Roberson and Dee Dee Wheeler have all signed National Letters of Intent to join the Wildcats for the 2001-02 season.
A 6-4 post/center out of St. Monica High School in Santa Monica, Calif., Danielle Adefeso was a first team All-CIF selection last year after leading the Mariners to the semifinals in the CIF championship. She averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds per game last season and helped St. Monica to a 22-5 record, the best in school history. A two-time All-Camino Real Conference honoree, Adefeso led St. Monica to back-to-back league titles in 1999 and 2000. She is ranked as the 13th-best post/center in the country and 70th-best player overall by the All-Star Girls Report.
"Danielle has a tremendous up-side," said Bonvicini, who has begun her tenth year at the helm of the Arizona program. "She is a strong, physical player whose presence in the paint is much-needed for our team. She is a very good scorer and rebounder and is very agile for her size."
Also a 6-4 post player from Hanford (Calif.) High School, Shawntinice Polk averaged 24 points and 14 rebounds per game as a junior last year for a Hanford squad that went 32-4 and was ranked No. 8 by USA Today at the end of the season. Hanford is currently ranked anywhere from No. 5 to No. 8 in various publications' preseason polls. Polk herself is ranked as the fourth-best post/center and 17th-best player overall in the nation by All-Star Girls Report. She has also been ranked No. 27 overall by rivals.com and No. 38 by Blue Star Report.
"Shawntinice is a female version of Shaquille O'Neal," said Bonvicini. "She will give us the kind of big post player that we haven't had before. After our loss to Tennessee last year (in the NCAA tournament), my staff and I decided that we needed a big presence under the basket, and Shawntinice will give us that very thing."
A 5-6 point guard from Chicago's Dunbar High School, Dee Dee Wheeler was a first team All-Illinois selection last year after posting 22.4 points, 9.4 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game. She is ranked as the eighth-best point guard in the country and 61st-best player overall by the All-Star Girls Report.
"Dee Dee is an outstanding player," said Bonvicini. "She is very quick, very smart and makes the other players around her better. Shes also a strong defensive presence. It's not only great to get someone of Dee Dee's caliber, it's also good to get back into the Chicago area again."
A 6-0 guard out of Berkeley (Calif.) High School, Robin Roberson registered 18.7 points and nine rebounds per game as a junior last year while leading Berkeley to a runner-up finish in the CIF championship. A first team All-CIF choice, Roberson is ranked as the nation's 37th-best guard/wing and 171st-best player overall by All-Star Girls Report.
"Robin is an excellent three-player who has been well-coached in high school, something that will help ease her transition into college basketball," said Bonvicini. "She can shoot the jumper, she can penetrate, and she can post-up smaller guards. She is a scorer. She has the ability to just go off and take over a game."
Bonvicini added, "This is one of the best recruiting classes we've ever had. I'm very pleased with the type of people and quality of players we've signed. This class is one more step toward our goal of winning Pac-10 and national titles."
"We really like this recruiting class because they are talented players, because they fill a need in this program, and because we like them a lot as people," said associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Denise Dove Ianello, who is in her ninth year at Arizona. "With this class, we have added height, quickness and athleticism to a team that is already very talented. This class brings our program to another level."
Arizona finished the 1999-2000 season with a school-record 25-7 mark overall and tied for second in the Pac-10 with a 13-5 conference record. This season, Wildcats return eight letterwinners, including two starters, from that squad. The Cats play a final exhibition game at home on Sunday, Nov. 12, against Cassovia Bardejov at 2 p.m., then they officially tip off the 2000-2001 season on Saturday, Nov. 18, at 2 p.m. against Brigham Young at home.