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OJC Press Release ID: 2687

Friday, August 11, 2017

OJC Women’s Basketball 2017 incoming players announced

After being voted the Region IX South Coach of the Year during his first year as head coach of the Otero Junior College Women’s Basketball team, Taylor Shaffer is excited to bring in his first full recruiting class.

The Rattlers return a solid core group of sophomores who all played a major role in the Rattlers 3rd place finish in the competitive Region IX South, and their first round victory in the Region IX tournament. Coming into this season, Shaffer was able to add some more size and talent that he hopes will help push the Rattlers pass the second round of the Region IX tournament. The freshman listed below will be joining returning sophomores Alyssa Lovato, Alba Vera Ponte, Nellie Freeman, Taylor Nittler, and Xavia Wallace.

(Signees listed in order by their first name) Berklee Lerohl, Ogden, Utah Berklee is joining the Rattlers after finishing a very successful career at Fremont High School. A 5’9” guard, Berklee can score in a variety of ways and brings both athleticism and length that will play a key role on both ends of the floor. In her senior season, Berklee averaged 16 ppg, and was honored as an all-star in Utah’s 5A class as well as an Academic All-State member; among many other accomplishments. Berklee also graduated top of her class that consisted of over 600 students. Shaffer added, “We are extremely excited about the versatility that Berklee will bring to the table. Not only is Berklee long and athletic, but she has the offensive skillset to present some real problems for opposing teams. Not only is Berklee a great basketball player, but she is a great kid and student that will be a great piece for our program both on and off the court.”

Grace O’Neill, Boulder Grace comes to Otero by way of Fairview High School, and is the latest in a line of very athletic siblings. Grace grew up in a family that has seen one of her brothers play professional soccer, another brother kick/punt for CU, and a third brother who currently plays D1 soccer at the University of Wisconsin. As a 5’11” forward, Grace averaged 18 points and 8 rebounds during her senior season. She was elected to the CCGS 5A All-Star Game, Colorado’s “The Show” All-Star Game, and was a First Team Academic All-State member. “Grace is an extremely rare talent. It is hard to find a forward that can match Grace’s ability to score the ball, and even harder to find a 5’11” player that is athletic as she is. Grace is an extremely accomplished player on the court, but more importantly she is a great kid who has proven that she can perform in the classroom just as well. Grace fits the mold for what we are trying to build here at Otero,” said Shaffer.

Kaitlyn Roycroft, Laredo, Texas Kaitlyn is a 5’3” guard who is joining Otero after a decorated career at Laredo High School. Kaitlyn grew up playing in the highly competitive 5A classification in Texas, and despite her size has found a way to put up big numbers. During her senior season at Laredo Kait averaged 16 ppg and 5 assists, all while earning district MVP and all-region honors. “The first thing that caught my eye when I saw Kait play, was her tenacity,” explained Shaffer. “She may only be 5’3, but when I saw her play on film she was the toughest girl on the court and was battling girls that were much bigger than her. The other thing that I really liked about Kait is that her leadership was apparent from the tip to the buzzer. She also possesses the type of range that makes her a threat to shoot the ball as soon as she crosses half court. Kait is a girl who is tough, and will help us to continue to build the type of program that performs both in the court and the classroom.”

Kalani Poloa, Colorado Springs Kalani joins Otero after a very successful basketball career at nearby Doherty High School. Kalani started at the point guard position at Doherty for three years, and during this time she was able to stack up a number of impressive awards; during her time at Doherty, Kalani received all-state honors in all three years, and during her senior season she was voted the Colorado Springs 5A player of the year all while leading Doherty to the quarterfinals of the state tournament with 14 points, 3.5 assists, and 3 steals per game. “In my first year as a Head Coach, it was important to me that we won the recruiting battle in our own backyard. In our eyes, Kalani was one of the best players coming out of Colorado Springs, and we made it a priority to sign her,” said Shaffer. “As one of my first signees, Kalani is somebody who has won her entire high school career, and she is one of the few elite players who have been able to score over 1,000 points in her high school career. Kalani is a competitor in every sense of the word, and I look forward to seeing her step into a big role for us this year.”

Laura Prado, Barcelona, Spain Laura is a 6’1” center who will be joining returning center and fellow Spaniard Alba Vera Ponte as our only international players. Laura is the latest in a line of players who have made the trip from Spain to play for Otero (including D1 players Lucia Serrano and Celia Garcia Paunero). She possesses the ability to continue the high level of success that international players have experienced at Otero. During her senior season in the top tier competition in Spain, Laura averaged 9 points per game and led her team to the play-offs. “We were extremely fortunate to land Laura, as she was a big time prospect that was being pursued by multiple teams in our league,” said Shaffer. “It became apparent quickly in her film that Laura was a special prospect. I believe that she possesses the talent to follow in the foot-steps of previous Spaniards Celia and Lucia. There are very few posts out there who have Laura’s level of footwork and are as polished in the post as she is. But what makes Laura special is her ability to step out and stretch the defense with her ability to shoot and handle the ball. With her skill-set and athleticism, we look forward to Laura playing a big role for us this year.”

McClain Walker, Colorado Springs McClain, a 5’6” guard, will be joining us after an accomplished career at The Classical Academy. She was captain of her team her senior season and played a huge role in leading them to a 20-win season. During her senior season, McClain averaged 13 points, 3 assists, and 4 steals, which was good enough to earn her second team MVP award and third All-Conference Award. “We were blessed in our recruitment of McClain, as by the time we started talking to her she had already decided to attend CSU,” said Shaffer. “We were lucky enough to have her change her mind. McClain comes from The Classical Academy where she played for Coach Haist, so we know that she has been well coached and understands the game. McClain is the type of player that does it all and will bring depth to our roster at the guard spot. Most importantly, McClain is a great kid that represents what we want our program to be about on and off the court.”

Molly Ostrowski, Englewood Molly is a 5’9” forward, who played her high school career for Englewood High School where she was a multi-sport athlete. During her senior season at Englewood, Molly did a little bit of everything, and averaged 8 points, 6 rebound, and 2 steals a game. According to Shaffer, “Molly is a great kid, and we are excited to have her joining us for the 17-18 season. After being undersized last year, Coach [Jordan] Bishop and I made it a goal to go out and add some size that would fit our system. Molly does just that. She brings more depth to our already loaded forward spot and will present the option to do some things with our forwards and centers that we weren’t able to do this past year. Molly’s ability to stretch the floor with her shooting mixed with her basketball IQ will be a great asset for us this year.”

Taylor Edwards, Durango Taylor is a 6’ forward joining us from Durango High School where she was a highly recruited two-sport athlete. Taylor played a major role in helping Durango High School advance to one of their best seasons in recent year finishing 2nd in the SWL and earning a 16 seed in the 4A state tournament. During her senior season, Taylor was a dominating force inside for the Demons, averaging 8 points and 5 rebounds. “Taylor was one of our first recruits to commit, and she is somebody who helped us accomplish both of our goals of adding size and recruiting the state of Colorado,” said Shaffer. “Taylor grew up participating in rodeos, and it didn’t take me long to realize why as she was always the toughest and most physical player on the floor when I watched her play. Taylor is another talented big who not only brings size and athleticism, but will present problems with her ability to stretch the floor and shoot and finish inside.”
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