Nov. 8, 2006
SPOKANE, Wash. - The Gonzaga University women's basketball program is starting the 2007 season off on a strong note as head coach Kelly Graves has announced the signing of two players to national letters of intent.
Joining the Bulldogs next fall will be Claire Raap, a 5-11 forward from Prosser High School in Prosser, Wash., and 5-8 guard Courtney Vandersloot from Kentwood High School in Kent, Wash.
Raap, a two-time 3A Mid-Valley All-League First Team honoree, averaged 14.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.8 steals and 3.0 assists per game as a junior. Raap also earned All-Region team honors and was voted Most Valuable Player by her team as a junior.
"I just had the feeling that Gonzaga was where I wanted to be," said Raap. "There seemed to be a quaint family atmosphere."
Raap, a three-time Tri-City/Yakima All-Star Game participant, also plays volleyball and is a member of the track and field team at Prosser. She has earned All-League volleyball honors three-straight years and is a two-time state finalist in both the 100 and 200 meters.
"The first thing people say when they see Claire compete is WOW," said Graves. "She is an incredible athlete, one with the rare combination of strength, jumping, running and coordination you just don't see very often. Claire is a hard-worker with an amazing future as a college athlete. She will continue to get better and better and the sky's the limit with her. Claire is also a tremendous young woman with great character and love for life. She's a perfect fit for our program."
Vandersloot is rated the 63rd best prospect in the country by Scout.com and is the top point guard in the state of Washington, as well as one of the Top 15 point guards in the country. A mainstay in the starting rotation for coach Keith Hennig, she helped lead Kentwood to its first State Tournament appearance her junior season by averaging 20.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 4.5 steals per game. Vandersloot was named South Puget Sound League Player of the Year, earned All-South Puget Sound League First Team honors and was an All-Area pick by the Seattle Post Intelligencer and Tacoma News Tribune as a junior.
"I knew right away that Gonzaga was the perfect fit for me," said Vandersloot. "I loved the girls and all the coaches! I am excited to be a Zag."
Vandersloot is also a member of the girl's soccer team at Kentwood and earned South Puget Sound League Player of the Year honors and well as All-South Puget Sound League First Team accolades as a junior. She also plays for the Puget Sound Flight Elite Club Team coached by Terry Graham.
"Courtney is the perfect Zag," said Graves. "She has a high basketball I.Q., loves to compete and is a serious gym rat. A great leader, she is a point guard who can score but also makes others around her better. An amazing three-point shooter, she has an uncanny ability to get into the game and create for herself and others. We are thrilled that someone of Courtney's ability and character is going to be a part of our Gonzaga family."
Gonzaga opens the 2006-07 season on Friday night as it welcomes the University of Utah to the McCarthey Athletic Center for an 8 p.m. tip off. Utah, who finished the 2005-06 season with a 27-7 overall record and a 12-4 record in the Mountain West Conference, was a NCAA participant a season ago falling in the Elite Eight.