Wednesday Nov. 11 marked National Signing Day for college basketball, as programs across the country received commitments from a fresh round of high school recruits. This year’s signing day saw LMU basketball bring in a total of five officially committed athletes – two for the women's team and three for the men's team.
“First of all, both of them are just champions,” stated women’s head coach Charity Elliott on her two new signings, Zoe Jenkins and Ava Toone. Furthering her praise, Elliott continued, “Great people, great families, great students, really high standards, high expectations. They both bring international experience."
Both incoming freshmen signed their respective letters of intent this past week, formalizing their commitment to the women’s team in writing. Originally from Australia, Jenkins is a 5’10" shooting guard with a wealth of playing experience from her home country.
Describing Jenkins' characteristics as a player, Coach Elliott commented, “Zoe is a bigger guard – very athletic, very bouncy. She can shoot it, she can go off the dribble and her length is just tremendous. She also brings that 'fast and fit' we are pursuing and looking for, just the kind of players that can get up and go."
Ava Toone is a 6’1" forward coming to the Bluff out of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. A representative of the Japanese national team, Toone will bring more international pedigree to this LMU squad. Adding size in the paint to her team, Toone is also well known for her shooting ability as a forward.
“Ava has also played with the Japanese national team," remarked Coach Elliott on Toone’s experience abroad. “So [she] has had a lot of high level competition. She also comes from IMG Academy down in Florida which is known for high preparation. So she is going to be ready right away. She is tremendously a great shooter as a four player but can also get in there and post up and use her size and her strength.”
While the women’s search for new talent stretched across the globe, the men kept it local, signing a triplet of players from Southern California. The new class of recruits joining the Lions is comprised of three high school players – David Elliot IV, Lamaj Lewis and James Nobles Jr..
Touching upon this class being all local, Coach Stan Johnson described this as an intentional move on the part of the program. “I just think that we have fertile soil here. There’s a lot of good players around us, we’re in a great location," stated Johnson.
Continuing on the importance of local recruiting, Johnson said, “We wanted to really express how important L.A. is, how important our city is and how important California is with our first recruiting class ... There’s a lot of kids here that leave and sometimes go out of state and play. For us, our thing is you don’t need to. We’re a great option.”
Beyond all sharing a common home of Southern California, these three also share similar positions – they are all guards. On the topic of whether this was intentional, the head coach remarked, “Guard play wins in college. You look at any good or great team, they have great guards. Now you have to have great bigs as well. Bigs are much harder to get, especially at our level. We want to take care of our guard level first. Secure that and then find ways to address our need for the big position.”
With Elliot, Lewis and Nobles putting the pen to paper, the men's team has secured three players to fulfill needs in a key area. The Lions will now await the arrival of this new class, who will be preparing for their respective freshman years.